Last Thursday, VERY early in the morning, Kaci Yoh and Jodi Roman picked me up to head out for our big hike...and I think my longest hike yet. Bear Lake to Grand Lake. Making the trek had been something that the Roman's have talked about before and I had thought "pffff, I don't need to do that," but then recently Kaci brought up the hike. She proposed it as a "girl's hike", and since I have been training for a half marathon, I thought I was fit enough for the task. With everyone's busy schedule, we were only able to round up the three of us, but we were going to do it. This hike sounds intimidating because of the length and we weren't sure what to expect or how the trail markings were going to be. Kaci made a copy of the topo to keep in her pocket, we were sure to have plenty of food, and convinced Jay and Tommy to run shuttle and drop us off a car at the trail head in Grand Lake so we could spend that night and the next morning there.
Partway up Flattop the sun started to rise with the most intense red colors I have ever seen from the sun illuminating parts of the pine trees. By the time we summited Flattop clouds had rolled in, the temps were dropped, every article of clothing in my pack was adorned, and I couldn't feel my hands. A little brisker than we expected. I started charging down the trail so as to get coverage from the trees sooner.
We passed over tranquil streams and vibrant flowers and as we got closer and closer to treeline the temps increased. There was some light sprinkles of rain, but no signs of lightning so we continued hiking with ease. Much better than a sweltering day. The hike went on and so did we, talking about things that girls talk about when guys aren't around. We passed a few people, occasionally took in the view, but our mission was to complete the hike. We were all feeling surprisingly great and didn't think the trail was too hard.
As we got closer to the North Inlet Trailhead on the Grand Lake side we asked a couple how much further. They said about an hour and a half, and I thought, hmm..they were going up hill and didn't look to be in the best shape and set the goal for us to accomplish it in an hour. The girls nodded in agreement at first I think just to humor me, but as I got more and more motivated to actually do this, and started thinking about time, I figured we could accomplish the hike in 8 hours. I started walking faster and told Kaci and Jodi that we could do this and there were no doubts. We were going to do it. As everyone told us there was about 15 minutes left until the trailhead we picked up speed because there was only 10 minutes left on the clock to accomplish the task. We started running on the downhill, and pushing it. With packs and Jodi's knee bothering her we didn't think it was worth an injury, but went hard. As we saw a clearing in the trees ahead we picked up the pace more and started running. 4 minutes to go. We went for a bit and around the corner we saw the road kept on without a visual of parking lot. We slowed to a quick walk so as not to burn out. We went in and out of running, and finally we saw the trail head and went for it. Finishing time.............8 HOURS AND 1 DARN MINUTE!! Grr. I tried to come up with thoughts that maybe we actually didn't start the hike until 5:07am instead of 5:05am, but that was that. Regardless, we felt great, enjoyed the hike and time together, and exceeded our expectations! We continued on to Grand Lake for some beers and margs and pizza and a well earned nap. Good work ladies.
Photos Courtesy of Kaci Yoh!