Colorado Trail: Segments 1-6 Waterton Canyon to Breckenridge

Welp, in true Runway fashion, I am about 5 months late in posting my blogs of my Colorado trail thru hike. Processing a long trail can be a truly LONG process for me.

So here we go again:

It’s Mid-June…

Early morning hikes with the dog brings me immense joy, as I feel nostalgia for the smell of morning dew. I feel the sunshine hit my skin and catch my breath as I walk uphill. It’s all happening again.

That moment just before you get on trail again is the best feeling in the entire world. My Colorado Trail thru hike was quickly approaching, as weeks seemed to pass faster than I could keep up with. Preparation for my hike, however, was slower. The summer work grind took over and I only had a few short weeks to tighten up loose ends and finish prepping for my amazing adventure. I felt like I had just started planning when all of a sudden I was packing resupply boxes and on my way to Colorado with my favorite hiking bud, the infamous Mountain Berry. Leaving my boyfriend and dog was a challenging transition this year, and while I was excited for this hike, I couldn’t help but wish they could be there with me.

It’s July 1st…

A beautiful day to start a hike. The sun was shining and I was feeling excited and hopeful for the month ahead of me. Mountain Berry and I  took our photo at the Waterton Canyon sign and began our trek. Happy to have an easy 5-6 miles of flat to start the hike we eased our legs in and took in the beauty of the Canyon.

The roaring River flushing through as groups of runners, hikers, and bikers made their way in each direction. The first day on trail felt like a blur; a mixture of all different types of emotions. We hiked 16.5 miles that day and made it through the first segment. We set up camp by the river and got to chat with a few of the other hikers before heading to bed.

The next few days we adjusted to the altitude and the terrain. Coming from the east coast, it took a bit longer to adjust to the higher altitudes and the dry heat. I felt stronger than I did starting the long Trail last year and I knew I was capable of a trek like this. And yet it felt a lot more difficult leaving home this year. It didn’t feel like I was escaping, but rather leaving the people I loved behind. The adjustment period on this trail was much longer and more strenuous than I thought it would be, but I pushed through that first week on trail (only stopping to cry every few hours or so LOL).

A ‘Deer-y’ Situation

Excited to get into town, we went to bed happy and full and ready for the day ahead of us. Unbeknownst to me, I seemed to have picked up a friend in the middle of the night. I woke up to an animal poking at my feet with its head, almost like a dog would do for attention. In complete terror, I froze, not knowing what kind of animal it was and what it was looking to do.

I pulled my legs away from the foot of my tent and hoped it would go away. But it didn’t. The animal liked my tent so much it curled up at the foot of my tent and proceeded to sleep the rest of the night there. I was horrified and couldn’t catch a wink more of sleep. I’ve never encountered something like this before and I was up for hours trying not to disturb it.

I sent a horrified ZOLEO message to Mountain Berry and one to my boyfriend that essentially read pure panic, not knowing if the animal was a bear or mountain lion. The animal finally scurried off once the sun started to come up and I walked out of my tent in the morning to my stake pulled out of the foot of my tent, and to my dismay, deer tracks all around me.  A DEER?? A fucking deer? At least a mountain lion or baby cub could have given me a bit more street cred. But alas, a little baby deer had made itself at home on my tent.

Anyways, my trail family had a nice laugh about it in the morning when I told them what had happened. At first I don’t think they believed me, but the fear in my eyes and lack of sleep had them thinking it couldn’t be made up. I was happy to get into Breck and sleep.

And there we were. Officially 104 miles into trail and made it to Breckenridge! We were happy to have a shower, a day off, and a big burger.

Key Takeways from Segments 1-6:

  • Buy the Colorado Trail Guidebook – it is SO much better than the maps – FarOut was a bit fussy on this trail for us so it was helpful to have the small packable guidebook
  • Stop in Bailey and get a Hot Dog from Coney Island. You won’t regret it.
  • Pack less than you think you need for these segments (at your own discretion) – we had WAY too much food and were pushing bigger miles than we originally had thought coming from the East Coast
  • Account for thunder storms in long stretches of open plains
  • Don’t complain about easy, flat miles – trust me it gets harder
  • Take advantage of all the water crossings in these early sections – there will be times you are wishing for them later on in the trail
  • Account for elevation change if you are not from here – it hits you quickly, even with training
  • Stay at the Bunkhouse in Breckenridge and say hi to Mitch for me -he is the absolute best host for hikers!
  • Make friends and stay in touch – you might see them later down the trail or you might not

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Comments 2

  • Anonymous : Jan 6th

    It’s Waterton, not Watertown.

  • Anonymous's Mom : Jan 8th

    Well done on the hike! Thanks for sharing. We are looking for a nice 3-5 day thru hike ourselves and your route is inspirational. Keep up the good work.


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