Sunday, December 8, 2013

Colorado Trail Adventure - Day 1

  • July 3, 2013
  • Start - 5:55am
  • End - 5:37pm
  • Distance - 30 mi.
  • Segments - 4+5
  • Lunch Break - 20 min.
Wow! What a day. What a hard day it was. A reality check for sure. Aside from running on a treadmill, I have never in my life seen miles go by so slowly. I hiked for over 11 hours with a short break for lunch –  only covering 30 miles!?! And I was moving at a very consistent pace all day. I guess trail running does spoil me with speed.

This morning I celebrated surviving my first night in a tent all by myself. I wished it would be uneventful, but I had to pee really bad - at 12:45am. I dreaded to get out of my tent and enter the scary blackness that awaited on the other side of the canvas wall. But there was no way I could wait three more hours, so out I went. There was no bear or mountain lion waiting for me outside.  Nothing happened - except me experiencing relief! I climbed back in my sleeping bag and drifted off again once my heart stopped racing. I woke up again at 4:15am and thought I could pack up the tent in the early morning light. Ha! Not in the forest! No, I was back outside doing all that in the deep darkness by headlamp. All went well and it afforded me an early start before 6:00am.        

The first of many goofy pictures at signs along the way.

I loved the first few hours.  Aspen groves and cool temps - forest hiking at its best.

After a few miles of aspen forest came the long, and I mean really long, stretch up Lost Park & Creek. It went on forever! And it started getting hot. My new nerdy hat was perfect for keeping the sun off my neck and I just cruised while eating Mentos and energy bars. I could not believe how long it took me to hike the 16 miles of Segment 4.

The beginning on Long Gulch.

It's called Long Gulch for a reason.  7 miles of this.

While this hat looks incredibly dorky, it was probably my favorite piece of gear for this trip.

I was definitely nervous for the 15 more miles of segment 5. It was similar in challenge, but with the added bonus of my shoulders and legs killing me. What was I thinking that 30 miles with a 50 lb. pack would be easy! I had a great lunch on a rocky outcropping with a sweet view! Only about 20 min though. Gotta keep moving. At some point around Rock Creek, I got a little bored and started singing quite loud. I had seen my first person of the day, a forest service dude in one of those mint green trucks about 20 min earlier. No other hikers or bikers though. So I tried to sing “Rainbow Connection” just like the Whiffenpoofs. There's some seriously high notes, so I just sang louder in attempt to hit them.

No more than 30 seconds after finishing, I climbed a little hill and came around a corner to find a lady at a campsite! AND she heard me loud and clear! We chatted a bit. She and her dog were going from Seg. 3 to Durango. It was 2:00pm and she had already called it a day. I moved on slightly embarrassed.

First glimpse of South Park and the Continental Divide.

Getting tired.  This was at mile 25.5 for the day with 6 more to go.

Storms are brewing.

I was walking with a valley on my left and trees on my right. Then the trees ended revealing a valley on the other side of them. I looked and saw a huge black cow in the grasses. But wait, it wasn't a cow, but a bear! It was enormous. It didn't see me, so I snapped pictures as it headed for the trees. Then it stopped and looked up at me. Not interested, it entered the trees and was gone. Elated! My first encounter! That new energy & adrenaline carried me for awhile. So did the threatening storms all around me. Thankfully, they all passed behind me.

The HIGHLIGHT of the entire trip! 

That ain't no cow!

The stare down.

Big fella decides I'm not all that interesting.

And like that, my friend was gone.

Many afternoon storms pass behind me.

Approaching Kenosha Pass.  It can't come soon enough.

After what felt like an eternity, I made it to Kenosha Pass. I crossed 285 in search of water at the campground. I had to walk the entire loop to find it at the back. While I filled up, I turned on my phone – no service! What? I walked all the way back to 285 and got 1 bar of roaming to appear. I typed a text to Tanya and I think it sent. I hope!  Powered it back off as part of this trip is about detoxing from all electronics.  Now with water and totally dead legs, I vowed to take the very first campsite I could find. A tenth of a mile down the trail I found just what I needed. With dark clouds all around, I setup camp and hunkered down for rain. Good thing! Just as a I finished preparing my very tasty Mountain House chicken teriyaki bag of deliciousness, the heavens let loose. Not too bad, but it called for dinner in the tent. I’m totally wiped. I’m going to adjust my plan for conquering distance because I can’t keep doing 30 mile days. It takes way too long! I’m thinking 25 at the very most is better. No major thoughts on anything today, but my senses are exploding with what I'm seeing and feeling.  It is simply amazing to me what I notice going at a slower pace.  The details found in nature are mind-blowing.

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