Award-winning photojournalist Dean Krakel is a freelance journalist who does photography, writing and photo editing assignments. “I never cease to be amazed how empowering hiking is,” she said. Their gratitude was contagious. Welcome to the Trail . Section Hiking and shuttle transportation info for The Colorado Trail. It is mandatory to procure user consent prior to running these cookies on your website. Eat what you want. It features interviews with fellow hikers and trail angels he met along the way. Elizabeth Thomas stands on Sentinel Mountain in Olympic National Park. A bold enough plan that I was experiencing some doubt. More cautious. After that? Go back to your life as though nothing happened. Of course, venturing into the wilderness alone has its risks, but the best evidence we have shows that there's no reason that women should worry more than men about hiking alone. The Trail – The Colorado Trail a continuous, narrow path from Denver to Durango for hiking, horseback, and bicycling. More importantly, will I understand my choice? On days in town, if you’re hungry, eat as much as you want. Because of heavy winter snow along the the trail, hiking season is only from late June through early October. She has walked over 13,000 miles on the long trails, many of them alone. If you’re looking for my planning guide, go here. Research your trail section before you go, paying special attention to the elevation. Many were women. My foot certainly wasn’t getting any better, but it reduced the swelling and numbed the pain. The biggest challenge of thru-hiking is to get on the trail in the first place! This is the widest possible window for hiking. Being alone has its advantages, and I enjoyed it. Fine. Courtney Carter took her outdoor career to new heights, hiking the Colorado Trail in its entirety. Quit. She has walked over 13,000 miles on the long trails, many of them alone. Along the way, responsibility for minimizing impact, caring for the trail, staying safe, and being self-sufficient is also his alone. The Colorado Trail can be a life-changing experience if you let it! You can go where you want when you want. Being lost is taboo in our culture, but it’s probably going to happen on the trail. Thru-hiking is a long, tiring, and dirty affair, that likely suffers from a little too much romanticization. NEAR SALIDA — So there I was, standing at a trailhead along U.S. 50 west of Salida last summer, all ready-set-go for a Colorado Trail adventure. It only takes about a month, in mid-summer. Waterton Canyon to the South Platte River, South Platte Canyon to the Shinglemill Trail, Shinglemill Trail to Lost Creek Wilderness, Horseshoe Gulch to Frisco, CO (Goldhill Trailhead). Solo hiking is the reset button many of us need; it’s a chance to process and explore, as well as an opportunity to internalize knowledge and skills we know but never forced ourselves to depend on. I wouldn’t have to hurt anymore. Sunshine and rainbows and green rolling mountaintops as far as the eye can see. Yeah, it probably wasn’t very good for my health. I started on August 1st in Denver and finished in Durango on September 6th. Dedicating a month of your life to the Trail has its price. I was ready to negotiate the terms of surrender. Colorado Trail Hiking - Imagine going on a hiking and camping vacation on the Colorado Trail with a light daypack, delicious prepared meals, and all the logistics planned! My travel companion had to cancel, so I'm coming alone. The CT doesn’t have to exact a price like other distance trails. But people do it, and there’s even beauty in it. The first thing you have to do is be honest with yourself about why you’re hiking a trail, she says. These cookies will be stored in your browser only with your consent. And to think of all the things I could do back in the “real world,” off of this mountain. That word came up again. Princeton Hot Springs, or think about things that keep you excited for the trail. “That’s what’s going to get you through the hard moments.”. Nobody cares, this is just self-inflicted melodrama. I’m more alert. New Tattered Cover owners defend claims of Black ownership amid national outcry, Platteville mobile home fire leaves one person and pet dead, Denver weather: Snow most of Friday and warmer weekend ahead. 2. We can always come back, we say. Besides, the trail isn’t going anywhere. Maybe you’ve hiked one of the “triple crown” trails. Most of the trail lies above 3,000 m or 10,000 feet. Maybe the phrase “There’s a race of men that won’t fit in…” makes you all misty-eyed. I needed water, but the creek was an additional quarter mile down a steep, rocky trail. CLICK HERE TO TURN ON NOTIFICATIONS. Physical pain is simple enough to bear, but self-pity is something else entirely. It is a long-distance trail stretching for 782 km (486 miles) from Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango. The Trail also covers a wide range of elevations and terrain, offering something for hikers of all skill levels. How much more expensive will Colorado homes become in the next 10 years? I was done. Take a wilderness first aid course. “Not quitting can at some points be challenging.”. I chose to move on a short distance for privacy, but needed to stop first for water. “Nothing bad is going to happen. This category only includes cookies that ensures basic functionalities and security features of the website. After my water was filled, I just sat there. I reminded myself of all the hikes I’d completed in the past. Fail. Why have models of Colorado’s coronavirus trajectory been off? They suggested for me to share their camp – it’s getting dark. I gave myself permission to quit or turn back at any time but not now, not at the beginning. Sometimes, though, I had to … The most important reason for never hiking solo is that it’s just not safe. Try to be OK with it. And you’re far better off hiking alone than hiking with someone you’re incompatible with.”. Don’t set up camp and go to sleep without eating — you need food to rebuild your body. Necessary cookies are absolutely essential for the website to function properly. I’d just see where I ended up. These are all good things, but there’s a downside: There’s no one to commiserate with about aches and pains, no one to consult the map with, or share a difficult passage, or speculate about the weather. Section (segment) hiking is a great way to see the trail and being able to do the trail a weekend, week or more at a time. There’s nothing to prove! That makes it so easy, doesn’t it? The mental game is huge when you’re in the woods. Yet the majority of the Colorado trail hikers I met last summer were solo. Last July, when I was back at that coffee shop in Salida, I finished my coffee and drove back to the trailhead. Hiking The Colorado Trail alone — the mental game. I’d taken three weeks off of work to do this. A lot of schoolteachers and students are out there. Elizabeth Thomas shared this list of important points for those hiking in a group or solo. The next morning I’m introduced to Starbucks Via (I’d never brought coffee on the trail before). When hiking by yourself, there are many factors to take into consideration, as mentioned in the above sections. That’s mighty big, wild country out there pardner, I was thinking. The plan was to hike the Colorado Trail, a 500-mile path through the Rockies that links Denver with Durango. 11 Reasons Why Hiking Alone Is Not A Good Idea Hiking alone is just not safe. The nearest bail-out point was a town called Salida. I can always come back. He is based in Conifer, Colo. Post was not sent - check your email addresses! The main mental issues for women are safety concerns. While we love hiking in the rain, it poses additional hazards that are best to avoid when you first start hiking alone. And that’s the question I get most often about the trail: Do you think I’ll be OK doing it alone? If that’s the case (you sorry soul), then leaving the trail before walking every step of it is a cardinal sin. Solo Hiking Safety Tips. No one to laugh or joke or share the beauty and joy with. On his hiking adventures, author Tim Voors has ranged numerous countries and continents. Photo: thedurangoteam.com. I loaded the pack, put it on, adjusted it and took the first step. Pay attention to the many little mental games: eating before you’re hungry, putting on a jacket before you’re cold, making camp before your knee swells as big as a cantaloupe. Through their comments and narrator Richard Riley, the film muses on the qualities of the trail that draw hikers, seemingly inexorably, to traverse the mountains each hiking season. One of the reasons is often to do something. Hence the season for the Co Out of these, the cookies that are categorized as necessary are stored on your browser as they are essential for the working of basic functionalities of the website. More in tune with what’s going on around me and inside of me. Colorado Trail The Colorado Trail. 7. But even if you’re healthy and strong, walking long trails is still a head game. Walking alone on the Colorado Trail can be pure bliss. Thomas holds the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail — 2,186 miles in 80.5 days. But opting out of some of these cookies may affect your browsing experience. Nobody died, nothing’s forcing me off the trail. The next town forward, Creede, was a long 75 miles ahead. 4. Along the way, hikers pass through many wilderness areas and towns while spending a lot of time hiking the continental divide. While there are indeed more destinations to consider, we have narrowed down the best hiking trips in Colorado to what we deem to be the top six that you are going to want to try out, which include: Mount Elbert. . A lot to take on alone. These cookies do not store any personal information. Most bad things come in cars.” Also, hitching into towns is probably the most dangerous thing women do on long hikes. And you’re far better off hiking alone than hiking with someone you’re incompatible with.” Thomas holds the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail — 2,186 miles in 80.5 days. This was the place to decide. This site feeds you cookies, is peppered with affiliate links, and has dangerous recipes for going outdoors. These thru-hiking champions have each backpacked hundreds of miles solo. Alone, the ante is upped considerably. Don’t think: I’m walking all the way to Durango. I’d been fighting the physical pain just fine. I could hardly walk on my left foot. At last I made it to the next creek to camp for the night, only to find that a pair of middle-aged ladies got there first. Thomas has walked thousands of miles solo and calls hiking long trails "more of a mental game than a physical game.". I ran a highlighter across the trail and my stomach flopped. Maroon Bells. 5. Yet trivial reasons somehow coalesce into an indomitable fire of motivation. I would do things one step at a time, I decided, one day at a time. “How exhilarating it is to do the seemingly impossible on nothing but my own two feet.”. This is excerpted from The Great Alone: Walking the Pacific Crest Trail, published by gestalten. Or not. Horvat filmed the documentary during his 2019 Colorado Trail thru-hike. 6. I’m no stranger to doing things alone. Sorry, your blog cannot share posts by email. My foot hurts. Day hikers will be able to access 28 segments of the Colorado Trail, each with check-in points. This is my trail journal. 80 miles was a long way to go. It crosses eight mountain ranges, … See Krakel’s photos from the trail last year at dpo.st/coloradotrail2014. For more about Thomas go to: www.eathomas.com, 1. Every time the ball of my foot touched an uneven surface, a stabbing pain shot all the way up to my knee. This planning guide covers when to go, which direction, navigation, dangers, section highlights, elevation, wildlife, terrain difficulty, how long it takes and more. So before you head out, it’s always a good idea to check the weather report. After completing an AT thru-hike in 2013, I decided it was time to start hiking again this summer and began my trek of the Colorado Trail on July 23rd. I begrudgingly replied. For the rest of the trip, I relied heavily on Ibuprofen. This is more a small amount of inspiration to pursue a connection with what motivates you and to take opportunities when they arise. Nutrition is a big deal mentally. Colorado is a hiker's paradise, and the Colorado Trail will let you enjoy all its beauty to the fullest. So I did what any other bold, adventurous hiker would do — I drove to Salida and had another cup of coffee. It usually takes thru-hikers 4-6 weeks to complete but it can be completed in sections over several years. Will anyone understand my choice to end this self-inflicted torture? Thomas holds the women’s unsupported speed record on the Appalachian Trail — 2,186 miles in 80.5 days. Another difficult hiking trail in the state of Colorado, the Missouri Lakes Trail is the very best way to experience this beautiful area. We also use third-party cookies that help us analyze and understand how you use this website. I can always come back. The scenery is impressive, even more so when you consider that this trail is only a 7-mile out and back day hike. The 500-mile Colorado Trail is one of the nation's premier long-distance hiking trail and runs from Denver to Durango. Snowpack can be a problem through late June, and winter storms are mor… You shouldn’t camp near roads — always try and be a mile or two away from a road. If you’re looking for my planning guide, go here. Elizabeth Thomas, on the Colorado Trail. Dedicating a month of your life to the Trail has its price. For the past three weeks, Sophia had been hiking the 485-mile trail from Denver to Durango alone and completely unsupported, meaning she carried everything she needed on her back. I couldn’t take the pain any longer. Point-to-point hikers often shuttle a vehicle ahead to their destination point to avoid having to retrace their steps. Thinking about doing this one for yourself? It’s the first rule of the woods — never go alone. “You have to be really smart about how you hitch,” she said. The Colorado Trail is divided into 33 segments (including the five that make up the Collegiate West alternative route) and each is accessible at the beginning and ending trailheads as well as at other points along the way. Map out all the things that can go wrong and think about what you would do in that situation. They were beaming in positive vibes, so happy to be on the trail for just a few days. The trail is maintained by the Colorado Trail Foundation which organizes groups of volunteers to work on the trail. Any cookies that may not be particularly necessary for the website to function and is used specifically to collect user personal data via analytics, ads, other embedded contents are termed as non-necessary cookies. This is the latest in a biweekly series on his preparation for the big hike. Four Pass Loop. This is my trail journal. A simple enough plan. I finished the trail in 37 days, taking three “zero days.”, Day 1 – Waterton Canyon to the South Platte River – Segment 1 Day 2 – South Platte Canyon to the Shinglemill Trail – Segment 2 Day 3 – Shinglemill Trail to Lost Creek Wilderness– Segment 3 – 4 Day 4 – Lost Creek Wilderness to Kenosha Pass – Segment 4 – 5 Day 5 – Kenosha Pass to Horseshoe Gulch – Segment 6 Day 6 – Horseshoe Gulch to Frisco, CO (Goldhill Trailhead) – Segment 6 Day 7 – Zero Mile Day in Frisco, CO Day 8 – Frisco Peaks Trail to the Ten Mile Range – Segment 7 Day 9 – Tenmile Range to Kokomo Pass – Segment 8 Day 10 – Elk Ridge to Leadville – Segment 8 Day 11 – Tennessee Pass to Rock Creek – Segment 9, 10 Day 12 – Mount Massive – Segment 10 Day 13 – Mount Elbert – Segment 11 Day 14 – Twin Lakes and Hope Pass – Segment 11 and CDT Day 15 – Missouri Mountain – Off the CT Day 16 – Elkhead Pass to Three Elk Creek – Off CT and Segment 12 Day 17 – Three Elk Creek to Buena Vista – Segment 12, 13 Day 18 – Buena Vista to Princeton Hot Springs – Segment 13 Day 19 – Princeton Hot Springs to Squaw Creek – Segment 14 Day 20 – Squaw Creek to Salida – Segment 14 Day 21 – Rest Day in Salida Day 22 – Rest Day in Salida Day 23 – Monarch Pass to Marshall Pass – Segment 15 Day 24 – Marshall Pass to Tank Seven Creek – Segment 16 Day 25 – Tank Seven Creek to Lujan Creek – Segment 17 Day 26 – Lujan Creek to Cochetopa Creek – Segment 18 – 19 Day 27 – Cochetopa Creek to San Luis Pass – Segment 20 Day 28 – San Luis Pass to Creede Day 29 – Creede to Jarosa Mesa – Segment 21 Day 30 – Jarosa Mesa to Lost Trail Creek – Segment 22 Day 31 – Lost Trail Creek to the Pole Creek Trail – Segment 23 Day 32 – Pole Creek Trail to Molas Pass – Segment 24 Day 33 – Silverton to Rolling Mountain – Segment 25 Day 34 – Rolling Mountain to Blackhawk Pass – Segment 25-26 Day 35 – Blackhawk Pass to the Indian Trail Ridge – Segment 27 Day 36 – Indian Trail Ridge to Junction Creek – Segment 28 Day 37 – The Road Home – Epilogue, Copyright © 2020 Down The Trail - All Rights Reserved - legal statements - contact. The plan was to hike a 160-mile loop of the Collegiate East and the brand new Collegiate West trail. You also have the option to opt-out of these cookies. “When I first start out, that’s always in the back of my mind for awhile and then night after night it slowly fades away,” Thomas said. Something was going on inside it, and every step was painful. I wanted to quit. Distance on each Colorado trail. Soon you’ll be itching to get back on the trail. For 485 miles between Denver and Durango, the Colorado Trail (CT) winds over rocky, 13,000-foot peaks and passes, through wildflower-filled meadows, in and out of dusty mining towns, and past snow-clad vistas as it draws a line through Colorado’s Rocky Mountains. I didn’t want to go farther anyway. Finishing it tends to be marginally easier… if you came out for the right reasons (And good luck figuring out what those are). Sections over several years to leave the trail, a stabbing pain shot all the things I could do in! 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