One of my many hiking goals is to complete the Colorado Trail. I’ve made a slow start of it, but have some ambitious plans for the summer. Taking off work a month or more is not a financial possibility so I’m planning to tackle it section by section as time allows. I’m also planning nearby side trips to do a few 14ers and visit other interesting places I find along the way. I started with Section 2 to get my “feet wet.” It’s the nearest section to my house and is familiar territory. I started this section way back in November, with a 12 mile out-and-back hike from the Platte River to Raleigh Peak Road. Then, I got insanely busy with work and other trips and didn’t make it back to the trail until yesterday. To complete the trail, I started from the Little Scraggy Trailhead side and hiked to my previous turn around point on Raleigh Peak Road.
The Colorado Trail Guidebook (available at the Colorado Trail Foundation), describes this section as “brutally hot” and they are not kidding! Large portions of the trail meander through the Buffalo Creek Fire burn area and there is little shade and no water. Even though I hiked it in the cooler months of November and May, it was still uncomfortably warm. I would not recommend doing this section in the heat of Summer unless you enjoy being miserably hot.
Overall, it’s not too strenuous, mostly gently rolling hills, though the beginning near the Platte River has a short switchback climb that’s not too fun. There are some interesting sights along the way including and old abandoned quartz mine. The vistas are pretty wide open in the burn area and you can see Mount Rosalie to the north and Pikes Peak to the south.
Somewhere along the line I must have delete pictures I took in November, but here’s few from yesterday along the trail.
I’m planning to do some of the low elevation segments before the full force of summer heat is upon us. Stay tuned!
It’s Friday which means most of us are waiting for our work day to end so that we can head out for the weekend. In that light here are some pretty pictures to make 5pm come a little faster. It’s a Friday Photo Frenzy! This week’s Frenzy is from a trip to Isla Mujers, Mexico that Marybeth took last year. Hasta luego, mi amigos.
I have heard that you don’t need to invest a lot of money into gear to start hiking. At least I think I have heard that, but then again REI is a thing that exists, so I am not sure that is the truth. In any event, it is a fact that you don’t need much to head out to your local open space park for a short hike. However, if you are planning a longer hike you will want to bring more than a hat and a water bottle.
Below is a picture of my backpack and its contents. It should be obvious that I don’t subscribe to the ultralight movement. I like to think that the heavier the pack, the better your butt looks after hauling it up hill. What do I carry? I always have the ten essentials with me, but I also like to have some additional “luxury” items like the InReach and umbrella. Read on for my take on outdoor essentials.
What is in the bag from left to right:
- Knife – one of the ten essentials. Mine is really big, I could buy a smaller one, but the “old timer” always impresses the boys so I keep carrying it.
- Potty Bag – Hey we all have to go, it pays to be prepared. Bag includes: trowel, toilet paper, hand sanitizer and extra bag to pack out trash.
- Snack Stuff Sack – Food is one of the ten essentials. Also hiking is really just an excuse to eat all the M&M’s out of the trail mix. P.S. When on a hike together you probably shouldn’t offer me any of your trail mix, I will eat the chocolate and hand you back a sad bag of peanuts and raisins.
- Hat, gloves and buff – Weather changes on a dime in Colorado, bring extra layers.
- InReach Satellite Communicator – The InReach allows you to send messages to loved ones and allows them to track your progress on-line. It also includes an SOS function that alerts search and rescue in the event of an emergency.
- Sunscreen and Lip Balm – Sun protection is one of the ten essentials, also sunburn sucks.
- Emergency Tarp with pre-tied paracord – This tarp can be used to build an emergency shelter in the event of an unplanned night out in the woods. It can also be used to build a shelter to wait out a storm, create a wind block or sunshade.
- Emergency Bivy Sack – The bivy sack, combined with a well built emergency shelter will make an unplanned night out less horrible.
- Umbrella – The umbrella is a luxury item, but it is nice to have on a rainy day or to provide some shade on desert hikes.
- Whistle – One of the ten essentials and useful for alerting rescuers or your hiking partners to your location.
- Flagging Tape – Very useful in an emergency situation. If you need to send hiking partners out to get help, the flagging tape can be used to mark the trail for search and rescue.
- Map and Map Case – Paper doesn’t require batteries, always take a physical map with you.
- Compass – Just like a map, a compass doesn’t need batteries. Learn to use one and never be in a bad situation if your GPS dies.
- Sawyer Water Filter System – On longer hikes, with good water sources, it is nice to be able to carry less water (water is really heavy) and filter more when needed.
- Headlamp – One of the ten essentials. If you end up out after dark, it is good to have illumination.
- Fire Starter (cotton balls in vaseline) – cheap and easy fire starter.
- Storm Matches in water proof case – These matches stand up to wind and rain.
- Field Notebook and pen – Sometimes you need to take notes.
- Flint and Steel – Because starting a fire with a flint and steel makes one feel like a badass.
- Esbit Solid Fuel Tablets – These work great for starting a fire.
- Sam Splint – Lightweight, moldable splint for medical emergencies.
- First Aid Kit – Ok, you don’t need one this big. I took a wilderness first aid class and promptly freaked out about all the terrible things that could happen on a hike, thereby causing me to buy a ridiculous first aid kit.
- Soft Shell Pants – Insulating layers are one of the ten essentials.
- Soft Shell Gore-Tex Jacket – Insulating layers are one of the ten essentials.
- Down Sweater – Packs up small and weighs nothing. It is great to have when hiking in the variable weather conditions of the mountains.
- Water Bottle with holder – self explanatory.
- Keffiyeh style scarf – This has multiple uses, primarily I use it as a handkerchief, but it can be used as a sunshade, a sling for an injured arm, a towel, etc. Also it looks way cooler than a regular bandana so it has that going for it.
- Pack – Gregory Jade 30 liters. I have had this pack for about 6 years. It has held up to some pretty good abuse and is comfortable for long days on the trail.
Not pictured: Hiking Poles, Peak Designs quick clip for DSLR camera on chest strap of pack, small foam seating pad, cell phone, extra battery with charging cord and my cat. Just kidding, the cat doesn’t come hiking with me (yet!).
Written by: Marybeth
My happy place lies in the heart of the Red Desert. It’s a seemingly barren wasteland that stretches across south-central Wyoming. The largest geologic feature is Great Divide Basin, the only place where the continental divide splits in two and the scant amount of water that lands in the basin evaporates before ever finding its way to a river. It’s a lonely place, largely inaccessible by vehicle. Millions of people whiz by it on the freeway, never dreaming of the wonders hidden behind the sagebrush. It’s a place for wandering (trails are almost non-existant) and for being alone, truly alone. There isn’t a speck of civilization for 50 miles. Once the yips and howls of the coyotes die down for the night, it is utterly silent. It’s a place to recharge your soul.
Stay tuned for the ongoing outdoor adventures of two daring sisters!