CDT 2021: Day 67, Mile 1455 to Rabbit Ears Pass/Steamboat Springs

Destination unknown

Top O' and Old Timer walking in tall trees

When I'm about to go into a town during a thru-hike, I want to know ahead of time where I'm staying that night. It's not that I feel a need to be structured and have all of my plans set. I never feel that way when planning to camp on the trail. I'm fine with stopping when the time feels right and where the spot seems suitable.

I only want to know where I'm staying when I go into a town. I feel this way because I've stayed in many dumpy motels and hostels on hikes. If I have a choice, I want to stay someplace a little nicer. I guess it's a perk of being older and on a less-limited budget that I can do that.

Of course, I don't often know how I'm getting to a town, but that's different and expected. I can deal with that.

DateSaturday, June 19, 2021
WeatherMostly cloudy, with temperatures from the low-40s to upper-70s
Trail ConditionsMostly downhill or flat with some snow and blowdowns
Today's Miles16.3
Trip Miles928.3

Today looked like it was one of those uneasy go-to-town days without a plan. OldTimer, Top O', and I were heading into Steamboat Springs, and that was all we knew. The rest of the day was up for grabs.

Dawn on the Continental Divide Trail

Because we didn't have a plan in place, we decided to leave camp earlier than usual this morning. We had about 16 miles to walk before reaching Rabbit Ears Pass. That's where we expected we would try to hitch a ride into town.

After we said goodbye to Cot and wished him well on his journey north, the three of us left together at 6:20 a.m. I was determined to depart with them today.

OldTimer and Top O'

We walked mostly downhill for nearly the whole distance. Starting at 10,784 feet in elevation, we only had a couple of modest climbs before ending at 9,500 feet.

A pile of dirty snow

The trail was wet in places, but there wasn't as much snow today as yesterday. The snow that was there was easy to cross.

A pond of stagnant water

We knew plenty of water would be available today. Several ponds and a couple of lakes were near the trail along the way. The first few ponds looked stagnant and unappealing, but as we got farther, the water looked nicer.

We stopped at the first opportunity to get clear water because we didn't have any available near our campsite last night.

A large meadow

The trail mostly remained in pine forests, but there were also a couple of large meadows.

A bear paw print in snow

A large footprint in the snow caught my attention. I had not seen any evidence of bears in this part of Colorado, but this print proved at least one was in the neighborhood.

Stepping over a pile of snow

We still had to cross small patches of snow halfway into our hike. By this time, though, the snow was only found where tall pine trees stood to provide shade.

A ramp made of logs

Farther down the trail, other obstacles replaced the snow. These were downed trees, and it didn't look like anyone was in a rush to clear them.

Instead of cutting out sections of the trees to clear a path, logs were piled on both sides, making a ramp over the downed trees. Mountain bikers made these so they wouldn't have to walk their bikes over the downed trees.

A lake

We stopped for lunch at Base Camp Trailhead and realized while sitting there that today was the start of a weekend. Knowing that Steamboat Springs was a tourist town, we decided it was at least worth a try to make a motel reservation.

We made some calls and checked websites but found no rooms were available. Even the KOA campground had no vacancies.

As a last resort, I tried the Holiday Inn, one of the most expensive hotels in town. A room was available and we were out of options by now, so we grabbed it. That wasn't the best possible luck, but it was luck nonetheless.

Walking with Karen and Susan

Soon, our luck got better. We met two women who were out for a day hike while their husbands were fishing in Dumont Lake near Rabbit Ears Pass. After striking up a conversation with them, we managed to yogi a ride into town.

Karen and Susan

When we arrived at the parking area at the lake, which was near the highway at Rabbit Ears Pass, Karen and Susan's husbands were paddling to the shore. They loaded their boats on a trailer, then we all climbed into their truck. It was a little crowded with the addition of three smelly hikers, but no one complained.

After being dropped off at the Holiday Inn, we were able to shower and do our laundry in a short amount of time.

Gravity and OldTimer on the bus

We decided to put off shopping for our resupply until tomorrow but went into town for dinner.

Though the hotel was on the south end of town, we didn't have far to walk to catch a free bus. When we arrived at the bus stop, however, we remembered masks were required to ride public transportation because of COVID-19. I forgot to bring one. Fortunately, a local man waiting for the bus told me a motel next door gave away free masks.

I dashed to the motel lobby and got a mask. Top O' and OldTimer stalled to board the bus when it arrived, which gave me just enough time to get back before it left.

We figured we would have a long wait to eat dinner, but somehow we managed to get a table right away at The Back Door Grill. And as if a large burger, fries, and a couple of beers weren't filling enough, we stopped for ice cream on the way back to the bus stop.

Although we didn't have a clue what the day would be like before it started, it turned out well. Funny enough, I should have known by now that's the way all town days seem to go. It doesn't matter whether I have made plans or not. The trail provides.

You tell yourself
I have nowhere to go
I don't know what to do
And I don't even know the time of day
I guess it doesn't matter anyway

Life is so strange
Destination unknown
When you don't know
Your destination
And something could change
It's unknown
And then you won't know
Destination unknown


"Nothing to tell now. Let the words be yours, I'm done with mine."ref.