Hiking the Colorado Trail – Again | Average Hiker

Colorado Trail on the way to Koko Pass

Why I left The Trail Last Year

Hiking the Colorado Trail was cut short in Leadville, CO last year. As my blood pressure soared to 200, I became convinced I needed to go get my heart checked out. I think turning 50 had me a little paranoid. The clinic in Leadville also convinced me to go home – since I was 50.

So, I came home and learned I had an incredibly healthy heart. As a matter of fact, my Cardiologist’s exact quote was “I wish I had that EKG.”

Next Sunday I head back to Denver. Instead of starting where I left off in Leadville, I’m going to start from the terminus in Denver again. I want to hike the whole trail.

Traveling to the Colorado Trail

My modes of transportation to the Colorado Trail will be plane and automobile. I have my mask, my hand sanitizer, and I’m as prepared as I can be.

TSA has taken my hiking poles in the past, so I’ll check my backpack and poles, and carry on a small stuff sack. I’ll box up the backpack and poles.

After the flight, I’ll be dependent on Uber. Fortunately, the Waterton Canyon trailhead is just south of Denver near Littleton, so I can easily catch a ride.

Two Goals in Denver

I have 2 goals for Denver…

Acclimate – Last year I came charging out of the gate. This year I’m laying up a day in Denver. I’ll arrive Sunday night and start hiking Tuesday morning, allowing myself Monday to adjust to the altitude.

I’ll also take a zero in my first town (Frisco), but after that I don’t have anymore zero days planned. “Planned” being the operative word.

Find Fuel – Apparently fuel canisters are a hot commodity in Denver. Either everyone is suddenly backpacking, or the preppers are stocking up! Probably a little of both.

There is constant chatter on the hiking forums about the inability to find fuel canisters in Denver and the surrounding areas. I’m going to try and place an order with REI before I leave on Sunday and pick it up on Monday.

Packed and Ready to Go

My resupply boxes are packed and ready to go. I have two additional boxes for my fuel canisters. I never send my fuel and resupply boxes together. The only time my USPS boxes have EVER gotten lost was when they also had my fuel canisters in them.

I’m not saying there is a correlation or anything.

I prefer resupply boxes for a few reasons.

  • When I get to town I want to relax. Grocery shopping is not relaxing for me – ever.
  • Small towns don’t have a lot of variety. I can keep my hikes lighter and healthier by sending my own food.
  • Fuel canisters are sometimes hard to find, so when I cook I mail them to myself.

Some Reasons You Might Not Want Resupply Boxes

Resupply boxes aren’t for everyone. There are a few reasons you might choose to shop along the way.

  • Your desires for different foods will change on long distance hikes. If you have not done a couple of hikes, buy as you go so you don’t end up throwing away a lot of food you don’t want. It took me YEARS to eat trail mix after the AT.
  • Expense – Cut out the cost of shipping. I have often found that the food I ship is less expensive than what I find in small stores, so it is a wash.
  • Spend Your Money in the Towns – I spend plenty in the towns (motels, restaurants, etc.). Groceries are a small amount, but it is still good to support the towns we travel through whenever we can.

Quilt or Sleeping Bag

Quilt or Sleeping Bag is always a dilemma for me, and the Colorado Trail has me second guessing my decision. I’ve changed my mind at least 3 times.

I hate being cold, and everything I’ve read describe this year as cold at the higher elevations of the Colorado Trail. It was 38 degrees on a brisk Leadville morning last week. Damn…

In my world, that is WINTER!

I’ve decided though that I’m going to bite the bullet and take my Katabatic Flex 22 Quilt. I also have my Feathered Friend EOS Jacket, so I’ll sleep in that if needed.

My Feathered Friends 10 Degree Lark Sleeping Bag will of course be packed in a priority box and ready to ship if I wimp out.

Colorado Trail Hike – Final Thoughts

I’m ready to get back out into the Wilderness. I will be taking my time and hope to finish the trail in about 30 days. The Colorado Trail is mile for mile considered to be one of the most beautiful trails in this country.

While hiking the CDT I hiked a large portion of the Colorado Trail. It was a beautiful hike, and I’m looking forward to finishing up the rest of the Colorado Trail.

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Ellie Thomas

I've hiked thousands of miles and still love the unknown of the journeys. Trails hiked include the AT, PCT, CDT, CT, AZT, NET, BMT White Mountains, and numerous blue-blazed trails around the country.