We spent the morning with Charlie and Hannah grabbing coffee and breakfast at the Rise and Shine Bakery. Once they headed back to Berthound Pass to get back on trail, we headed to a coffeeshop to work on writing. Having a balance of fun and work is really healthy for us, and never once have we regretted writing about each day of our journey. The seemingly peaceful, downtime allows our bodies to rest while our minds work.
We were seated at an outside table when a wind picked up. Critter, having been worn out by the constant and brutal wind on the ridge for many miles, kept moving around the porch as if she was playing a game of musical chairs in order to get out of the wind. Garbelly remained in his seat and laughed. Lunch time rolled around, and with Joe, Kate, and Milo still an hour out of Winter Park, we decided to go eat, again. This time we found ourselves in a Chinese restaurant. We quickly made friends with our waiter as we shared our adventures with him each time he came to our table.
It is always such a joy to share our stories with people who know about the world of thru-hiking, but the surprise on the faces of those who are not familiar with this world is by far the greatest. It is amazing, and it is so cool that we are able to share and educate people as we learn and grow along the trail.
After lunch, we headed to a parking lot and waited for the sight of the silver Airstream with yellow accents. Then all of a sudden there she was. In the truck, we saw the excited faces of Critter's dad, Kate, and the wagging tail of Milo. They pulled into the parking lot and jumped out. Milo came running up to Critter letting loose a single bark then ran over to Garbelly with another single bark. We were as excited to see them as they were probably excited to get out of the truck.
When Joe, Critter's dad, found out about her hiking the trail he found an 1974 Airstream, fixed it up, traded in for a truck to pull it through the mountains, then drove out to see us from New York. They had made it, all the way from the shores of Lake Erie to the mountains of Colorado. We threw our packs into Stella, the Airstream, and headed towards Lake Granby.
Being new to RV culture and Colorado during the 4th of July, we failed to make a reservation a year in advance at one of the campgrounds. From our understanding every spot was booked and every campground full, but from all the research we completed trying to find an available spot, we learned about the "walk-ups", our last hope. We pulled up to the office of the Stillwater Campground on Lake Grandby, fingers crossed. The men stayed in the car while the ladies jumped out. Kate and Critter ran up to the campground hosts and asked if by any chance there was a spot of us for two nights. A man in a golf cart drove off to check on the last spot at the entire campground. We waited anxiously. He returned, waved us onward, and took us to an open spot. Success! Not only was it a spot but we had a view of the lake and we were a bit secluded from the bulk of the other RVs at the park. We set up camp and took the Airstream out of travel mode, and we entered relax mode.
The next morning we enjoyed bagels at our site before heading into Grand Lake to take care of our laundry and acquire fishing licenses. While we were at the rather nice laundromat, a local shared with us some insight on where to fish. We loaded up in the truck and headed straight to the Colorado River. Once on the river, we began setting up our rods, for us it was our Tenkara and for Joe and Kate it was two four-piece rods. All of us put on dry flies and started to cast to promising looking runs. The hits came quick, but Joe and Kate had to switch their Smallmouth Bass and Winter Steelhead mindset to one of hungry, Mountain Trout. We tossed dries all day getting tons of hits on top water. Critter's catches increased in size as she went, starting out with some small, but colorful Brookies and ending with a good, healthy Rainbow Trout.
Garbelly played around with small Brookies, even accidentally catapulting one into the grass behind him. Milo was on the fish immediately helping Garbelly locate it and return it to the water. We had spent a better part of the afternoon on the water before we realized we were all hungry. We headed back to the Airstream to nap, shower, and begin preparing different vegetables and fruits to start grilling.
We enjoyed a large dinner and as it got dark walked down to the lake to see if we could spot fireworks. Sure enough, at ten o'clock we could see Grand Lake's firework show in the distance. The show went on and we sat quietly admiring the colors and shapes tucked into the mountains.
Happy 4th, and Happy Trails!
Garbelly & Critter