This is a link to my current Adventure: 2018 Colorado Trail
I made it to Highway 9 by 3pm and five minutes later the free Summit Stage bus took me to Frisco. Who do I run into as soon as I get off the bus? Longtime friends Jeanne and Sean with their son Max! The timing was also good because the skies cut loose shortly after I arrived.
Tomorrow the plan is to do the next section as a day hike from Copper back to Frisco (opposite direction) with Nora and her dogs. Then on Sunday I will take the free bus to Copper and continue where I left off.
One odd part to my morning was finding my trekking poles scattered about the campsite (they had been stashed next to my tent). Looks like a deer found them and decided to gnaw off the straps and the foam grips (salty?). The straps are fairly important for how I use the poles. Luckily, I’ll be arriving in Frisco tomorrow and I have an extra pair stashed in my garage.
Even with 26 miles on the day I had time to hitch 5mi down the highway to the nothing town of Jefferson to get some fries and a milkshake. Can’t believe I forgot to take a pic!
The Colorado Trail starts at an elevation of ~5400’. Last nights campsite was at 7800’. Tonight’s campsite is just under 11,000’ at the edge of a 6 mile long meadow.
Although water sources were sparse today, there were just enough to make things comfortable. For the most part temps were comfortable with a nice breeze (the higher elevations helped too). Best of all, no afternoon thunder storms.
It’s pretty easy getting to the start of the trail from Denver. The light rail leaves from Union Station and takes about 30mins to Littleton. I was also able to convince my friend Katy (trail angel extraordinaire) to pick me up and drop me off at the trailhead 10mi away at 5:30am!
Then there was the exposed burn section during the heat of the day. A little later some clouds rolled in and cooled things off with some sprinkles. The clouds looked angrier with lightning to the South.
One of the big benefits to living in Colorado is the great access to incredible training hikes… especially at altitude!
Moose in the Gore Range:
Coming soon (as in tomorrow!), the Colorado Trail a ~500 route that goes from just outside Denver, Colorado across the state to Durango. No permits are necessary and there are many places along the way to resupply, typically every 3-5 days.
There is a fairly short window of time to hike the whole trail as snow often presents a serious challenge well into June and some years well into July. Delay too long, and come September early season snowstorms are not uncommon.
The biggest challenges for a hike like this are: the altitude (30% less oxygen at the high points ), afternoon electrical storms with monsoon rains and hail (especially above tree line), wildfire closures (currently the last 70 miles are closed…just reopened!), and figuring out how to get home (not much public transportation and hard to nail down my timing 3 weeks out)
Cell service is spotty, especially the last half of the route, so don’t despair if there are not daily blog posts coming your way.
This a much delayed post that I’ve been meaning to do since I finished last September, and it’s everyone’s favorite topic …GEAR!
With the PCT Class of 2018 getting ready to hit the trail soon I figured I should finally return the favor of all my predecessors who posted their gear lists and pics.
I’m not going to get into the weight of every single item but generally, my base weight varied from 10.5lbs (in desert) to ~14.5lbs (in Sierras).
The majority of the hike I would say I was at ~11lbs. Once you add in food and water for a typical 4-5 day segment I was typically leaving town with about 22lbs (usually 1-liter of water, sometimes 2L, occasionally 3+L).
A couple comments on this gear…
-My trail runners were comfortable enough that I had very little need/desire for camp shoes. I was also spending very little time “in camp” so even less of a need.
– I started in the desert with the Arcteryx running pants seen here as well as my rain skirt. There were a lot of cool mornings in May when I wore pants and only twice did I see any precipitation when I used rain skirt. I don’t like hiking in pants unless it’s really cold. When I got to the Sierras I swapped both of these for my rain pants.
-When I flipped back to the Sierras in Sept I had my 15degree sleeping bag liner sent because temps were getting colder, my sleeping bag wasn’t quite as warm after 100+ days and my body wasn’t too efficient at keeping warm (skin and bones).
This is the Grivel ice-axe/trekking pole (extendable) I used in the snowy stretches. Very similar to the Black Diamond Whippet, but this one allows the business end to retract into the handle when not needed. Luckily, I never had to self arrest but I liked that it was always in my hand… I saw a lot of dedicated ice axes living on the back of people’s packs
I’m planning to do some gear specific write ups so let me know if there any particular items you’d like to hear about sooner than later.
The Full List…amazing how much stuff fits in a tiny pack!
Shoes: Altra Olympus
Socks: Darn Tough (crew-no cushion)
Compression Calf Sleeves: Zensah
T-shirt: 32 degree cool (Costco)
Shorts: North Face Running
Running hat -quick dry
Sunglasses -orange lens
Pants: Arcteryx (full zip running),
swapped to rain pants after desert
Trek poles: Fizan
Packed Gear (~1400)
Backpack: osprey exos 38
Tent: Zpacks Altalplex (hike pole- 58-60″ / 150cm)
(8-stakes: titanium/carbon: hooks, Vs)
Pole Extender for tent
Sleep Pad: Neo Air 3/4 (homemade inflator)
Sit Pad: Zrest (cut from full size)
Sleep Bag: EE Convert (20 degree, 20oz)
Sea to summit 15deg liner for Sierra
Pillow: Sea to Summit (2 oz)
Polycryo Pack liner (homemade w/inflator hardware)
Zpack Food Bag
Umbrella: Chrome Dome (attachment to pack)
Trowel: Deuce of spades
Bear Can: BV500 (Sierra)
Grivel Ice-axe/ trek pole (Sierra)
Micro Spikes (Sierra)
Packed clothes (~500)
Hiking sleeves: Smart Wool
Leggings: 32degrees (4oz)
Down jacket: Montbell ultralight sweater (5oz)
Long sleeve: OR Hoodie (4.5oz)
2nd hike socks: Darn Tough
Sleep socks: Possum down
Rain Skirt (changed to rain pants after desert)
Rain pants: Berghaus paclite full zip (or skirt)
Rain jacket : Berghaus VaporLight Hyper (3oz)
Glove: convertible fleece mit
Waterproof Mit: Borah (used 3x)
Ski Hat (Sierras)
Cooling towel (great in desert and NorCal)
Filter: Sawyer Squeeze
Water bottles: 1L-Sawyer, 1L-Smart Bottle, 2L Sawyer
Dipping cup nests on smart bottle
8oz protein shake container
Hydration tube w/bottle adapter
Spoon, knife: lexan
Micro Pocket blade (serrated)
Utility Razor blade
Head lamp: Mini Petzel
Luminaide solar light
Lighter/matches, Fire starter
Repair Tape (Tenacious)
Velcro for gaiters
Hot Hands Handwarmers
-Head net (in resupply)
Lithium Batteries: headlamp
Guthook App download
SanDisk Clip MP3 w/FM tuner (8gb)
Charge cord/plug (3amp)
Power Bank: Anker 10,000ma+ cord
-Bug Deet (100%-resupply)
Nail clippers (Nail File)
Tooth brush/ paste
Ear plugs on cord
Cortisone hand cream (allergy)
Advil / Naproxen/Imodium/Ambien/Allergy meds
I woke up a before my alarm, a combination of excitement to be finishing the final day of the PCT and the fact that my mattress was mostly deflated, so I might as well just get up.
This final section of trail is really spectacular. Today would be the third time I’d hike through Rae Lakes and over Glenn Pass (previously on the JMT as well as a 4-day loop through Kings Canyon). I took a lot of photos since the scenery (and the lighting) were so spectacular and figured I might as well send this blog off with a bang.
Technically, I completed the PCT at this junction (where I’d hike over to Kearsarge Pass and down to Onion Valley, then hitch into town) but this wouldn’t have been a very exciting place to celebrate with pictures 🙂
It was kind of odd waking up this morning (9/21/17) knowing I wouldn’t be hiking 25-30 miles today, or anytime soon. I will let things settle down for a day or two and be back with some final thoughts.
Today was a classic Sierra hiking day. The trail followed a creek (Evolution Creek) upstream for many miles (16) passing alpine lakes on a series of benches. Then finally topping out on a high mountain pass… Muir Pass in this case.
Just Bob! We met back in Tehachapi. Bob is 66 and crushes miles..i hope I’m in that kind of shape in 20+ years!
This trail must have passed half a dozen or more major alpine lakes today.
There was still some small snowfields to cross.
The famous Monster Rock of the JMT. I was glad I could point out the landmark to this 10 year old Australian boy and his family who are hiking the whole JMT.
I was glad to find an unoccupied campsite around 6:45 because there are quite a few JMT hikers out here. It’s getting fairly dark by 7:15 now.