Day 0. Friends in Colorado

Day 0
Rob took me to the airport and the flight was ordinary and smooth. Took a train from Denver to Golden, CO where Nathan, Twinkle Toes and Guthrie live. From the train station I walked to a nearby parking garage where Nathan had left his car with the keys hidden near it for me to take back I his house and to the store since he won’t be off work for another 5 hours or so. He’s putting me up for tonight and is taking me to the trailhead tomorrow morning. I drive to the store to get a few last minute items like a lighter, knife and deet. Then I went to check out a hiking trail in Mount Galbraith Park that Twinkle said I should check out. I walked around marveling at the familiar faces of western desert plant life that I had seen in the Arizona and Pacific Crest Trails. I thought about how this morning I woke up in my bed in West Virginia and am now, just hours later, walking around in a desert canyon in Colorado. After about 10 minutes of looking at sego lilies and prickly pear cacti a thunderstorm rolled in and I rolled out.   

I fell asleep at Nathan’s for a while until he and his girlfriend got home. We caught up on what we had been up to since we last hung out and had a Coors which is brewed about 3 blocks from his house. We coordinated with Twinkle toes and he picked us up to go to some fellow thru hikers house for dinner. Aroo, Cactus, and some of their friends are starting a thru hike of the Colorado Trail the day after I start so they were having a going away party of sorts. Many other thru hikers were there as well including Bigfoot who I crossed paths with several times on my Pacific Crest Trail hike in 2014. We drank beer, played corn hole and talked of our trail friends for a few hours until it was getting late.

We met up with Guthrie back at Nathan’s house and chatted with him about his job working on the Continental Divide Trail and improving sections. It’s good to see old friends. We all plan on seeing each other again soon at Twinkle Toes wedding in 10 days! Tomorrow morning the walking begins! I’m feeling super excited. 

Colorado Trail Thru Hike Gear List

It’s almost time for my next thru hike and I’m getting so antsy and excited I have to post something, so I’ll do a rundown of my gear list for this trail. The Colorado Trail is a 485 mile long trail from Denver to Durango, CO and has an average elevation of over 10,000 feet. This makes the trail unique among the long trails in America in that it is almost always in high mountains where environmental conditions change quickly and thunderstorms roll in like clockwork in the afternoon. The temperatures on this trail will obviously be much colder than a lower elevation hike. Even though it will be July for most of my trip, freezing temps can still occur and chilling wind and rain are always a threat. The high elevations also means there is less oxygen to breathe and I’ll need to adapt in the first few days to this difference. I also only have 21 days to hike it so I need to have a light load and walk at a fast pace to get to Durango in time get back to Denver and fly home!

Much of the gear I’m using is the same as my Arizona Trail thru hike and some of the gear is the same as my Pacific Crest Trail thru, but I also like to try out new gear to see how I like it and if it can become part of my backpacking staples. Some of the new items I’m using include a down quilt, a new air mattress, and a chrome dome umbrella.
Here is my gear list. I’ll go into detail about some items below.

Backpack and Water Treatment and Storage:
Gossamer Gear Gorilla Ultralight Backpack 28 oz
Sawyer squeeze mini 1.7 oz
2 1 liter smart water bottles 4 oz
Subtotal 33.7 oz

Sleep system
Six Moon Designs Wild Oasis tarp tent with insect netting 13 oz
6 Aluminum tent stakes 3 oz
Gossamer gear airbeam air mattress 10 oz
Gossamer Gear 1/8 inch thin lite foam pad 2.5 oz
Polycryo ground sheet 1.6 oz
Enlightened Equipment Enigma 20 degree down quilt 19.4 oz

Subtotal 49.5 oz

Clothing in Backpack
Undershirt 7.2 oz
Long johns 6.9 oz
Go lite down jacket 7.5 oz
Spare socks 3 oz

Subtotal 24.6 oz

Miscellaneous Items
Head light with batteries 2.8 oz
Sunglasses .7 oz
Small bic lighter .4 oz
Mosquito head net .7 oz
Toothbrush and toothpaste 1 oz
Emergency Poncho .5 0z
Swing Liteflex Silver Trekking Umbrella 8 oz

Subtotal 14.1 oz 

Chargers 2 oz
Anker battery 15000 mwh 11 oz
Canon PowerShot SX50 HS Camera, Raynox DCR 250 Macro lens, case, battery and charger 30 oz

Subtotal 43 oz

Total Base Weight
164.9 oz or 10.3 lbs

Pack with all the gear laid out!

It all comfortably fits in the pack with plenty of room to spare for food.

This time around I decided to switch to using a down quilt after I have seen many of my friends use them and be very happy with their performance. It weighs significantly less and is much more compressible than my 15 degree sleeping bag I used on the Arizona Trail.

I’ve also swapped out a rain jacket for an umbrella mostly to see if it will really work. I have back up poncho in case it turns out to be a miserable failure. Why an umbrella? Well it weighs in at just under 8 oz, so it weighs less than my current rain jacket and does the same job. It also has many other benefits such as protection from the sun, being able to use a smartphone or camera in the rain, and being dry while at the same time ventilated, meaning not sweating to death while hiking in the rain as you would in a rain jacket.

I’m also moving back to an inflatable air mattress after using a z lite foam pad on the Arizona Trail. I found it to be much less comfortable and it did eventually get smashed down and lose some insulating power. I also will be around a lot less cacti and other spiny plants which pose a threat to the air mattress. I plan on using a plastic groundsheet when the ground is moist in concert with the 1/8 inch foam pad and gossamer gear air beam to keep warm in any condition.

I’m also once again hiking in Brooks Cascadia trail runners. This time its the model 11. We will see if they can live up to their 8 predecessor after the 10s fell apart in days.