The Grand Time

Tom's Journal

May 16 2007 - Day 1

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After a 4:30 am wake-up in Granby, Gary and I headed for the Colorado River trailhead at Rocky Mountain National Park in the crisp, 29 degree air.

After packing snowshoes along with other essentials in our backpacks, we set out. We planned to go uphill toward the Continental Divide to the first point where we could step across the infant river which, fittingly, we expected to be at the site of an old mining town called Lulu City.

There were many areas of deep snow on the trail, but we made good time during the four-plus miles to Lulu City. There we found much more water than we anticipated, so we decided to try to make it three more miles to the top of the Continental Divide.

The route we chose-up Little Yellowstone trail to the La Poudre Pass over the Continental Divide-was difficult because of deep snow. It took us an hour longer than we expected, but we made it in fine spirits and, better yet, found a route back to Lulu City that was almost completely free of snow.

Part of the trail took us along the bank of a ditch that was built over a hundred years ago to divert water from the Colorado River watershed over the Continental Divide to cities and farms on the eastern plains. On this trip, what name would such a ditch have? The Grand Ditch.

At the divide, the “river” was only a vast snowfield two to five feet deep. Immediately to the west is Little Yellowstone, aptly named because it is a beautiful impassable gorge hundreds of feet deep. We could hear a series of waterfalls in it but getting close enough to look into it while standing on the deep snow would be too dangerous.

By the time we made it back down to Lulu City, it was early afternoon and, with the warm sunny weather, the snow was getting was much softer than it had been in the morning. So we strapped on the snowshoes and made our way back to the trailhead, where we arrived at just after 4 pm.

Due to a miscommunication our support team thought we had already begun kayaking and they had taken our support vehicle with our kayaks downstream to meet us. Fortunately, some very nice people from New Mexico, Judy and Wes Evans, drove me around the campgrounds of Rocky Mountain National Park until we found our crew.

After 5 pm we got in our kayaks and finally began the boat trip down the river, which was 36 degrees and so narrow (five to twelve feet wide) that many downed trees blocked it, forcing us to cross over or under them, or several times portaging around them.

We saw many Moose and Elk in the marshy open meadow through which the meandering but swift river flows, making only just over three miles before the sun went behind the Neversummer range to our north. The scenery throughout the day was absolutely stunning; the weather, perfect.

Today we dropped over 1,500 feet from the 10,000 foot-plus elevation at the top of the Divide; the fifteen-plus miles on foot along with the kayaking left few us with few muscles that aren’t sore.

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Mile by Mile Photos

May 16 2007 - Day 1
Mile 0 through Mile 10

May 16 2007 - Day 1May 17 2007 - Day 2May 18 2007 - Day 3May 19 2007 - Day 4May 20 2007 - Day 5May 21 2007 - Day 6May 22 2007 - Day 7May 23 2007 - Day 8May 24 2007 - Day 9May 25 2007 - Day 10May 26 2007 - Day 11May 27, 2007 - Day 12May 28, 2007 - Day 13May 29, 2007 - Day 14May 30, 2007 - Day 15May 31, 2007 - Day 16June 1, 2007 - Day 17June 2 - 11, Day 18 - 27June 12, 2007 - Day 28June 13, 2007 - Day 29June 14, 2007 - Day 30June 15, 2007 - Day 31June 16, 2007 - Day 32June 17, 2007 - Day 33June 18, 2007 - Day 34June 19, 2007 - Day 35June 20, 2007 - Day 36June 21, 2007 - Day 37June 22, 2007 - Day 38June 23, 2007 - Day 39June 24, 2007 - Day 40June 25, 2007 - Day 41June 26, 2007 - Day 42June 27, 2007 - Day 43June 28, 2007 - Day 44June 29 2007 - Day 45June 30, 2007 - Day 46July 1 - 13, Day 47 - 58July 15, 2007 - Day 59
The last day; The river’s end