Perhaps my favorite part of living in Colorado is the proximity of the mountains and all the opportunities they offer for incredible hiking. For years I’ve wanted to attempt hiking the Colorado Trail, a nearly 500-mile backpacking trail that stretches from Denver to Durango. And for most of those years it’s been simply a dream, until N decided that he wanted to do the same thing.
We first started planning a couple of years ago. After assembling some gear we embarked on our first small backpacking trips and smaller training hikes. They didn’t always go as planned, but we had fun and we learned. Last summer we decided to attempt tackling the Colorado Trail, and again things didn’t go quite as planned. A bear got into our food bags the first night, our packs were overpacked and heavy, my knees ached horrible, and so ultimately we changed our plans from a continuous thru hike along the entire trail to tackling it section by section.
The 485-mile trail is divided up into 28 segments, ranging in length from 11.4 to over 30 miles each. By the end of the summer we had only tackled two segments. After our two days of misadventures on segment 1 we felt we had learned enough to attempt something more ambitious. So on our second expedition of the summer we tackled segment 6, an intense 32.7 mile trail that climbs over the continental divide before descending to the Breckenridge area.
It was challenging, to say the least, gaining around 5,000 feet of elevation in just over 30 miles, but it was also an incredible experience. Sitting atop the Continental Divide eating donuts for breakfast, finding an enormous beetle when we stopped by a stream to fill our bottles, simply enjoying the beauty of the Rockies, and spending time together.
Although we didn’t cover anywhere near as much of the trail in 2018 as we has initially hoped, it hasn’t stopped us from looking forward to more backpacking expeditions in 2019. Indeed N mentions it frequently, if not daily. Mountains and hiking feature prominently into his art, as in a recent collage he made of our time on the trail, and he works out several times a week to strengthen himself for our next expedition. He takes it seriously, because there’s not a whole lot that’s more important to him than exploring the mountains. And when it means that much to him, I’m going to do everything I can to help him pursue his dreams.
So when backpacking season rolls around this summer we’re going to be back on the trail. We’re both looking forward to it.