In order to successfully hike the Colorado Trail one segment at a time, I need to start training. True, this project is probably 2 years away but a slow build is the best way to avoid injury. I also need to re-learn the limitations of my body, which is becoming more susceptible to injury every year. Today I began establishing an initial baseline. These are the first batch of stats I will refer to in the future for planning purposes.
For reference, the Trail will require minimally 12-16 miles of hiking / 3,000 ft of elevation gain, with the longer segments being 25-32 miles of hiking / 5,000+ ft of gain. Today’s hike was in Boulder (avg. elevation ~6,000 ft) but the Trail will vary between 5,500-13,300 ft with an average elevation of 10,300 ft.
Summary stats from today: 5.6 miles / 1,090 ft of elevation gain / Total hike time 2 hrs, 10 min / Avg pace 24 min/mile
The route was a loop starting at the South Mesa Trailhead.
I hiked with Quinn’s 11-month old puppy Cricket. I think it was the longest hike of her life so far. Poor puppy is exhausted this afternoon, but she had fun.
Conditions were muddy at lower elevations and snow/ice at higher elevations especially in the shade. Temps were in the low 30’s at 8am. Unfortunately my boots were not as broken in as I thought and I felt my heels chaffing after only 2.5 miles. I thought I had brought some band-aids or moleskin, but there was nothing in my pack. Those tiny items could have saved a lot of discomfort.
I’ve said it before: if you own the right gear or the right tool, but you can’t find it at the moment you need it, you may as well not have it at all. Moleskin or band-aids in my closet at home does me absolutely no good on the trail, and that’s a learning for future hikes. In the meantime, this week I’ll be suffering through a mean blister on both heels.
Nonetheless, Cricket and I had blue skies, warm-ish temps and no wind on this January day. Today’s hike was about 1/3 of the shortest legs of the Colorado Trail. I think my off-the-couch current level of fitness is nowhere close to where it needs to be to tackle this project, but I’m not in terrible shape and it will be fun adding mileage. I will especially enjoy going out to trails that start at higher elevations – probably a lot of exploring the Indian Peaks Wilderness over the coming months and years; something I’ve long wanted to make time for. Assuming I don’t injure my body, this will be a very fun undertaking.
Key learning today:
- Cricket is a good trail companion.
- Bring more treats / snacks for both of us.
- Identify a dedicated backpack specifically for this project, and keep band-aids or moleskin in there permanently.