Continental Divide Trail #29: Gail Meets a Moose; Og Meets Elk

I was out hiking by myself when I happened upon this magnificent bull moose, about seven feet tall, blocking the trail! I backed up respectfully and got behind a tree, as one is supposed to do. Moose can charge at any time, so I waited quietly for quite a while until it plunged into the nearby creek and crossed to the other side.

Meanwhile, Og (aka Porter) came upon an enormous herd of elk above 12,000 feet on Flat Top Mountain, on a steep optional loop of the Continental Divide Trail through Rocky Mountain National Park.  

Here we are at Berthoud Pass. 

Here’s Og taking a break after summiting 13,300-foot James Peak, in the background.

Amber has taken over doing the laundry while Og and I are off hiking together or separately. “My new hobby is cleaning lint that hasn’t been removed from motel dryers since before I was born!” she says.  Our motel in Grand Lake doesn’t have a dryer, though, so she sits on Og’s washed shirt, socks, and pants to keep them from blowing away in the wind.


22 comments on “Continental Divide Trail #29: Gail Meets a Moose; Og Meets Elk

  1. Seeing that wild elk and moose are still extant is somehow reassuring. Wish I had Amber’s help here with my dryer lint, but she inspires me to be more diligent. Thanks for your continued updates, and congratulations on your heroic progress. Best to all of you. Press on.

    • Thank you, Frank, and yes, wild elk and moose are very much extant here, along with marmots, mountain lions, all kinds of wildlife. Amber says hi, and will be happy to give you her tips on dryer lint anytime! Hope all is going well with your magnificent forthcoming book!

  2. I was in Grand Lake last week!!! Bear going through garbage outside my window at 3 a.m. Watched him for awhile. Next morning bear scratches on my car door!!!!
    So, see, I do have a sorta outdoorsy life???? Just forget the motel part and car part and shopping in Grand Lake part, maybe.

    • Oh, Jerrie, that’s wonderful! I wish we could have gotten together in Grand Lake, where did you stay? We’re at the Western Riviera, and the dumpsters are all locked (they give guests a key to the dumpster), but there is what they call “a naughty bear” in the lot next door who makes a huge mess each night of someone else’s unlocked dumpster. Then in the morning, we see his trail of trash and plastic bags into the wooded lot!

  3. Gail! I’m so glad that I still get to write to you. That moose is a beautiful dude. You were mighty close and I’m grateful you were not in his moose nose range. These treks have their own unique moments for you as well.
    If Flat Top mountain is the one near to Estes Park then Jim and I have hiked that one years ago. Good memories of our youth. What a personal experience to be so near to this group. Love to you both, Delrena and Jim

  4. You are now in God’s country. We envy every step you both take. some of my favorite memories are from sitting on top
    of Flattop Mountain and trying to decide if I ever want to descend.

    • Julianne, God’s country indeed! Most CDT thru-hikers skip the optional RMNP loop but Porter didn’t want to miss it. And I salute your climbing skills for getting to the top of Flattop!

  5. I have never seen a moose in the wild and always wanted to but every time I’ve been in moose country they’ve been congregating at a moose convention elsewhere. It must be truly grand to see one like this! And the elk–there is something so inspiring in seeing large gatherings of animals in the wild–it reminds us we are only a small part of the big picture. How much further does Og have to go?

    • Grand indeed, Rosita, I feel lucky both to have seen him up so close, and to have not been charged. Tomorrow Og hikes north from a drop-off on Trail Ridge Road, next through the Medicine Bow Wilderness and on to southern Wyoming. About 200 miles in that direction, then he plans to do the western Collegiate Mountain Range that’s officially part of the CDT, rather than the eastern Collegiates we did when the western had too much snow a few weeks ago. After that, we head south so he can complete his final section of the CDT, from Wolf Creek Pass to Molas Pass, which should be passable by then. I’m looking forward to hiking in partway for each section. Loved your most recent blog post about Helen Frankenthaler!

  6. I have never seen a moose in the wild and I’m envious, Gail. You and Og look very smug in that photo at Berthoud Pass–like a couple of people who have ventured out in nature and have met nature (among other things, in the forms of moose and elk) face-to-face. I wish for you that look on a regular basis.

    I was at Lake Granby from the 14th until the 17th–a stone’s throw away from where you’ve just been. My friend (and apprentice) who owns the cabin I was at lets me come up before her and the rest of the group who meet up there once a year so I have quiet time up there to write. It’s heaven.

  7. WOW! What an adventure you are having! I loved reading about your respect for the magnificent moose! Your patience was well rewarded with his actions to avert the encounter. Thank you for keeping safe dear friend! Your wisdom increases with every encounter you come upon in the wild. I also loved the photo’s that Porter took on the top of Flat top mtn. I especially loved the one of him airing out his tootsies after scaling yet another magnificent peak. I truly am enjoying your posts Gail. I feel like I am trekking along with you two, and I loved seeing the amazing peaks that I would never have witnessed in person. Thanks to Amber for helping with the laundry. I also enjoyed the photo of the lake too. I grew up on Lake Mendota in Madison, WI, so lakes are a favorite of mine. Maybe, when you get back, we can hit the Bldr. rez with my little speed boat! It’s great being out on the water and I think you would get a kick zipping around the water and relaxing in the middle as well. Hope you are getting a glimpse of the Olympics. Great fun and so many interesting stories and achievements. Take care and enjoy your wonderful adventure! Andrea 🙂

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