“Group 4 now boarding for Delta flight B32 to Denver.” When I woke up 3 hours ago to catch this flight I was still on California time. After a week in New York, neverending honks and humid humdrum, I am on my way back west. My plan is to hike the 450 mile Colorado Trail. My other plan is to take the trail one step at a time not getting caught up in the ‘destination’.
Five years ago I stuck out my thumb for the first time en route to Buena Vista in central Colorado. My goal was to spend two weeks backpacking the Collegiate Peaks loop; a section of the Colorado Trail among the most mountainous and scenic.
Since my first hitchhike ride the nervousness of relying on strangers has been replaced by excitement for meeting interesting people. You have to be somewhat outside the box to pick up a dusty roadside traveler like myself.
My first ever ride was from two women who gave me a sharpie pen and the advice to make a sign dawning my destination, “BUENA VISTA, or as close as possible” Last night I recreated that sign for our trip back to Buena Vista
This time around I have six weeks to hike as much of the Colorado Trail as possible. Due to a record low snowpack and melt, we will be starting our northbound adventure in Durango on June 4th, headed for Denver. This is the earliest plausible snow free start date that has ever been recorded. The San Juans are smiling at us.
Before the trail, we will be spending a weekend at the “Campout For The Cause” music festival. The gathering features a variety of country, folk, and rock music with abundant yoga and workshops. I am excited to be facilitating a conversation dedicated to long distance hiking. My aim is to inspire and prepare people for the trail, sharing the gospel of life in the mountains. The festival is a few miles from the Colorado Trail itself.
The average elevation on the Colorado Trail is 10,000 feet (3,048 meters) the highest point is above 13,000 feet (3,962 meters). Those soaring heights are the home to many pristine alpine environments. With that beauty comes a unique set of challenges, primarily altiduteness in nature (yes I did make that word up).
The physical challenge of acclimating to the altitude coupled with Esther’s fear of heights will provide a dearth of raw experiences. I am excited and anxious for this opportunity to grow together. But ultimately we are making this trip to connect with nature and ourselves not to become fearless warriors.
The other challenge unique to this trail is environmental. The altitude brings midafternoon thunderstorms that are short-lived but terrifying. The primary danger occurs when hikers are isolated on high open passes when these storms roll in. The key is to keep your eyes on the sky and avoid midday high elevation. This is a key I plan on sticking to very closely. I am not anxious to repeat my experience getting stuck in a hailstorm at 11,000 ft. on the Pacific Crest Trail.
After a quick stop at REI for gas canisters, tent stakes, and some other small items we will head to the quaint highway 285 en route to Buena Vista.
If you see us out there please pick us up and as always happy trails,