Sunday, December 8, 2013

Colorado Trail Adventure - The Night Before...

During the summer of 2012, I read the book "Becoming Odyssa"  which chronicled Jennifer Pharr Davis' first thru hike of the Appalachian Trail.  I was enthralled with the idea of spending months out on a trail.  Her stories captivated me and I'm not going to lie that the desire to try it wasn't planted.  She admitted though that most people that attempt something like this are recent college grads or retirees.  Who else has the time to take months away from a life of typical commitments and live on the trail?  

One thought I've been struck with of late is that time is going by fast.  Really fast.  I'm realizing the easy way to go is to keep putting things off.  I do it all the time.  For some reason, I couldn't get the thought out of my noggin that the time was now to step out of my comfort zone and head out on a solo backpacking trip.  The AT was not in the cards, but the almost 500 mile trail cutting through the heart of Colorado started about 20 minutes from my front door!

For the next few months, I talked with my wife and we agreed that taking five days for me to head out on a CT adventure was doable.  Game on.  July 3-7 was on the calendar.  How many miles could I cover in that amount of time?  Could I get from Littleton to Leadville?  155 miles in five days with a heavy pack?  I bought the CT guide and planned away.  I knew next to nothing about multi-days hikes.  For Christmas, I asked for and received some much needed backpacking gear.  Things were lining up.

As the summer approached, wildfires broke out in the Front Range.  It was an easy decision to skip the first couple of segments and start at segment four.  It cut off about 40 miles, but that was fine by me as they are not the segments most people enjoy.  Now I could set Twin Lakes as my final destination.  On the evening of July 2, my family drove me to the Wellington Lake area and the start of segment four.  The plan was for me to camp near the trailhead so I could get an early start the next day.

The remaining posts in this series will come straight from my journal.  It was the only form of entertainment I brought with me.  I took 30-45 minutes each night to write about the details my day.  It's not anything to get excited about and I won't have any publishers come knocking on my door.  You'll also get sick and tired of me wanking about mosquitos.  But it does capture the essence of the adventure as it unfolded.  Enjoy.

  • July 2, 2013
  • Start - 6:23pm
  • End - 6:55pm
  • Distance - 1.5 mi.

After an incredibly stressful day at work, I had to break free for this trip. Sure I left some IT issues unresolved, but I needed to know when to let go. I walked out at 4:58pm and found my amazing family waiting in the truck outside. I so wanted to shift mental gears as Tanya kept asking if I was excited. Yes, I was, but the weight of the day would not release. Heavy traffic on 285 and a phone call from a physician – and my mind was not thinking about the Colorado Trail. Finally we made our way into Conifer and soon we were rolling through the Wendy’s drive through. Not what Tanya wanted, but it would keep us on the road as I saw dark and stormy clouds building around us. We pulled off in Bailey and hit the Wellington Lake Road and I was pleased to find the dirt road in decent shape (no washboard!). The forest swallowed us up as we drove over eight miles south. The trailhead appeared and it was showtime! A quick change of clothes and then pictures & video interview. Tanya & Megan were very excited while Zoe nursed her upset tummy in the car.

Boy, I was going to miss this little lady!

Thunder rolled all around us. Hugs and kisses and I was off down the trail to find my campsite. It is surely a surreal moment when you walk away from you family and know you won’t see them for five days. What would happen between now and then?

 I passed a sweet camping spot about .4 miles in, but I really wanted to hike for at least 30+ minutes, so I kept going. The trail climbed quite a bit over the first mile. I checked out another site, but continued on. About 1.5 miles in, I came to an opening and saw a great site 100’ off the trail.

Just above the campsite is a sweet view – which I’m enjoying right now. The skies cleared to blue, the sunset against the mountain was perfect. After setting up camp, I explored a bit and now sit. I’m amazed by the silence. I hear noise – flies, bees, birds, airplanes. But it feels so silent, so peaceful.  This is exactly what I need.  Everything around me is enjoying the cool evening.

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