Shutterbug, North Star, Monkey, Mama Bear, and Wheels

Last weekend we headed up to Rocky Mountain National Park hoping to cross paths with our Pacific Crest Trail friends Mama Bear and Monkey. Their trail names might ring a bell because when she was 9, Monkey became the youngest person to thru hike the PCT. This summer Mama Bear and Monkey are tackling a large section of the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) from the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado to Yellowstone National Park in northern Wyoming. They are updating an engaging, well-written blog as they hike.

We’ve been texting back and forth during their trek trying to figure out a good time and place to meet up. Last Thursday they informed us that they expected to be in Grand Lake, CO on Saturday afternoon. We changed some plans and headed up, up, up to the Continental Divide. Water that falls on one side of the Divide ends up in the Pacific Ocean. Precipitation on the other side flows into the Atlantic.


Poudre Lake, the beginning of the Poudre River
Next to the Continental Divide at Milner Pass is Poudre Lake, the beginning of the Poudre River which flows through Fort Collins

Mama Bear and Monkey were running behind due to lots of blown down trees lying across the trail. We pitched our tent at Timber Creek Campground and had a relaxing night to ourselves. Just before bedtime, we were surprised and excited when a herd of elk decided to cross directly through the campground to reach the river. We were brushing our teeth at the restroom when they started moving, which was good because part of the herd walked right past our tent. Unfortunately our cameras were in the tent, so we couldn’t get any photographs.

Eventually the herd wandered away, but elk continued to bugle periodically throughout the evening. It was an eerily beautiful sound.

Our Tent at Timber Creek Campground

We met up with Mama Bear and Monkey for brunch in the morning, joined by Mama Bear’s husband Jeff (trail name Wheels), and Atlas, another hiker we’d met on the PCT. Their stories were great fun to hear. Monkey reminded us that even navigating downed trees can be fun–just find the bounciest logs and jump from one to another!

After they ran town errands, we went on 2 short hikes. Just as she did on the PCT, Monkey had energy to spare, running, splashing, and climbing whenever she could.

We walked, talked, and enjoyed the scenery.

Headwaters of the Colorado River
Headwaters of the Colorado River

We saw a moose on each of our two hikes!

Mama Bear and Monkey are great fun. It was wonderful to meet Mama Bear’s husband Wheels too. We said farewell with lots of hugs from Monkey. No doubt we’ll cross paths again in the future.

Driving home along Trail Ridge Road we saw another herd of elk. This stately male rested alone, apart from the rest of the herd.


    1. In this case the herd was probably 40 elk or so. Some elk herds can be much larger!

      The trees were down due to a combination of beetles killing the pine trees, and high winds knocking over the dead trees. Cold Colorado winters used to kill off many of the beetles, but the warming climate means their numbers are abnormally high. Beetle-killed trees are a big problem here.

      Glad you are enjoying our posts!


  1. Anna, How fun to meet up with friends from anywhere. The hike that Monkey and Mama Bear are doing starts in the area (San Juan Mountains) where Darcy and Matt live down in Pagosa Springs. If you and Chris ever decide to do that hike let me know and I’ll give you Darcy’s contact. She and Matt have hiked all around that area. We even did a short hike near the Piedra when visiting them in April. Beautiful country out there.


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