Earlier this year, my husband Dale, and I were hanging out in the front room, watching television and talking about the upcoming summer. We usually plan a few weekend trips and a couple of overnight hikes. He came up with the brilliant idea of going on a major backpacking trip this summer. By major, I mean, packing up everything you own to keep yourself alive for 5-6 days in the unforgiving Colorado wilderness, strapping it to your back and wandering down a trail to parts unknown.
A couple of summers ago, we backpacked three segments (42 miles) of the 28 segment, 500+ mile, Colorado Trail.
One life goal of mine has been to complete Colorado’s premier trail ~ not as a thru-hiker, but as a segment hiker. Many hikers complete the trail as thru-hikers in about a month to a month and a half. I have no desire to pound out the heavy mileage day after day, with my head down, my earbuds blasting trail music, not interacting with anyone for fear of being thrown off schedule. For me, work gets in the way of completing more than a few segments at a time. Plus, I really don’t think my body or my mind could handle more than six days on a trail at any given time.
When Dale brought up the CT hike, I jumped on it like a rat on a Cheeto! First of all, we have something fun to look forward to this summer and second, we get to plan for more segments on Colorado’s premier trail.
Which, in turn, means, we get to drag out all our CT books that are gathering dust so we can figure out which segments we are going to tackle.
Mileage is very important. We live hours from the trailheads and need to factor in our traveling time to and from the TH. Then we need to figure out who gets to drop us off and pick us up 5-6 days later.
**More highway travel time equals less time on the trail.
Note to self: Need to put in for vacation time… a lot of it….
Next, we plan how long we can be on the trail. One doesn’t just throw some gear in a pack and head down a trail. Many things need to be taken into consideration.
Given the terrain, how many miles per day can we hike? Where are the water sources? Where are the best campsites? Will there be a lot of exposure? Will we be susceptible to thunderstorms? Snow? What are the weather patterns looking like? When will the largest elevation gains and losses occur? Given the amount of snowpack, which month should we go? So many questions to be answered. Our guidebooks and maps will help to answer some of the questions. Our experience and intuition will help with the rest.
I get to plan the menu for each day and then start dehydrating food. I’ll pack our meals neatly into gallon size baggies with the order in which we eat it. Menu preparation takes a long time, but is very rewarding ~ our survival depends on it.
Lastly, I get to go through our hiking box and start separating out all our gear. That’s my favorite part. When I open the lid of our hiking box I swear I hear angels singing. I love to go through our gear, touching every piece like it’s the holy grail. We have gear for all types of weather ~ it’s Colorado. The weather patterns change every five minutes!