Colorado Trail: Segments 1-8

WOW! What a fun week it’s been. I met some incredible humans on trail, and have found myself a wonderful little tramily. It took me just over five days to hike from the Waterton Canyon trailhead all the way to Breckenridge. I discovered that although I originally felt extremely passionate about being a “thru-hiking purist,” I decided to say screw that and have truly embraced the motto of “hike your own hike.”

Day 1/Seg 1

On day one I started off with a bang and decided to truck it the entire 16.8 miles down to segment 2, South Platte River trailhead. This day was honestly rather eventful. After the seven-mile road walk, the terrain became decently steep as it climbed and descended through the trees. The water source at Bear Creek was dry, and I didn’t feel like bushwhacking it to the stagnant pool that Guthook claimed to have a lil off trail. I ate lunch after doing some serious climbing and took a 30-minute nap on some flat and shady rocks.  Once I reached the high point at mile 13.1, I was running low on water so I immediately made the plan to hike down to the South Platte River and refill as well as find somewhere to camp. While at the high point, I found a rogue cell phone. Luckily I picked it up and was able to make a call to the owner’s brother. He said that his sister was hiking toward Waterton Canyon and that she must have accidentally left it. Luckily, while I was chatting with him, a NOBO biker came up, and I was able to pass the phone off for safe return. The descent was somewhat steep, and I was definitely a bit sore on the way down. I found a great spot to camp next to a man named Brian, and ended up spending the following days hiking and camping with him.

Day 2/Segs 2-3

It had rained a bit on the night of day one so my tent was somewhat wet when I put everything away the next morning. Brain had packed up and left before I woke up so I spent another day hiking solo while listening to podcasts and the audiobook, Born to Run. Segment two is by far my least favorite so far. This segment is extremely dry, exposed, and kinda hellacious. Although there was a small, lush pine grove, this segment mostly traverses through a burn scar from a fire in 1996. I hiked to mile 26.6 and walked over to the North Fork Fire Station to refill water and have lunch on their little shady bench. I continued on thorough about half of Segment 3, and made day two another 16-miler. I hiked until I found Brian again, and we camped by a small stream near mile 33.4. Segment three was incredibly beautiful. This area showed off some large rock towers containing perfectly stacked boulders, and the trail was lush, soft and windy. This segment definitely seemed like a mountain bikers dream. Night two was kinda rough. My squeeze bag broke, and it rained pretty hard all night. Voles were scurrying underneath the rain fly and up and over the roof my tent, though I am still unsure if this actually happened or it was my mind was just playing tricks on me.

Day 3/Segs 3-4

I was in low spirits at the beginning of day three. Brian and I hiked together while leapfrogging for most of the day. We both accidentally took a wrong turn while entering segment 4 and ended up hiking about a mile out of the way. When entering the Lost Creek Wilderness, be sure you to go right toward the marked CT trailhead after crossing the road. This seems to be a somewhat common mistake because a hiker who is now in my group accidentally took this slight misdirection too. Day three turned around when I checked my attitude and remembered that my soggy tent would dry out. This day ended up being super significant because it was the day that I met Izzy and Lil Engine! Also, WOW LOST CREEK WILDERNESS IS BEAUTIFUL! I trekked on through the day and made dinner at the Brookside McCurdy Trail junction. This is where I said goodbye to Brian as I ended up trucking it up to mile 55.1. This made day three a 22-miler for me. I found my homie Izzy and we camped at the top of a saddle after hiking through a beautiful square-shaped valley full of cow pies, willow bushes, and a continuous winding stream. Day three really turned around as the sun set and the full moon rose over the front range. Although it was a bit cold up at 10,900 feet, the moon was incredible, and I slept well to the sound of owls hooting through the night.

Day 4/Segs 5-6

As you descend out of Lost Creek Wilderness and toward the Valley of the Sun, the trail becomes somewhat exposed. I hiked with Izzy through most of the morning, but ended up slowing down to take a break at some point in the day. I had lunch at Rock Creek, did some journaling, and ended up expelling a demon as I puked a bit after eating too fast. Honestly, I wasn’t too upset about this because I drank some water and felt great afterward. I was originally planning on staying the night at Kenosha Pass, but I decided to truck it along to see if I could catch up with Izzy and Lil Engine. I hiked on and met a man named Dave and a dude named Stash throughout this day. Dave and I took a nice rest at the top of Kenosha Pass and enjoyed some snacks and chats. I met Stash just after this toward the beginning of segment 6. I’m not entirely sure which exact mile marker I stopped at, but day four ended up being around 26 miles. Izzy, Lil Engine, and I cowboy camped under the stars in a small flat spot while Stash set up just on the other side of some trees. Midnight, I had to pee and couldn’t find my headlamp so I ventured across the trail to let it out. When I got back to camp, I accidentally grabbed Lil Engine’s hair thinking it was my sleeping bag.. Hahahaha. Whoops. I woke up our entire camp while apologizing profusely. Luckily the boys all thought it was hilarious and are still giving me crap about it.

Day 5/Seg 6

Summiting Georgia Pass and having breakfast at around 12,000 feet was amazing and a great start to day five. The views of 14er Quandary Peak couldn’t be beat. We ended up losing Stash early in the morning, but Izzy, Lil Engine, and I had a great day of hiking together! Entering ski resort territory brought incredible views along with a lot of climbing and descending. We bathed and ate lunch on a bridge by a stream, and I accidentally threw my hat at oncoming mountain bikers and yelled “Ahoy” while doing so. Luckily, these people were also accepting of my loud self and the weirdness that comes along with it. The three of us crushed another 22-mile day together, and took a break while chatting with some flip-floppers on an incredible bench on a switchback with our first real views of Breck. This is where we met another member of our tramily, Garden Center! Our new group of four trekked down to a flat camp site about four miles outside of town.

Day 6/Seg 7 (Alternate Route)

The four of us took the bus over to the Blue Moose and smashed our first real food since starting the trail. The hiker hunger and coffee cravings were real. We said our goodbyes as we thought that this would be the end of our fun lil group. Izzy and I ventured over to City Market for some snacks and then walked to the Rec Center to attempt to take a shower. Unfortunately due to COVID, we were unable to do so, so we washed our clothes and took some sink baths in the public restrooms near the skate park. After making phone calls to our loved ones, snacking under the shady pavilion, and refilling with fresh water, Izzy had a genius idea… What if we take an alternate route using the gondola at the ski resort to shave off some miles and a few thousand feet of elevation gain from the climb? Well, that’s exactly what we did. It was a blast! We took the gondola up to the resort and I was able to schmooze the ticket office into letting us take the Colorado chairlift up toward Peak 8. OUR FIRST TRAIL MAGIC! We told them what our plans were and the resort staff was totally on board. From here, we hiked some of the Horseshoe Loop into “Hiking Trail” and took that up until it ended somewhere between Peaks 6 and 7. There we started climbing and doing some off-trail adventuring to get us up and over the Divide. Yes, we shaved off some miles, but we also blazed our own trail and created a fun and awesome alternate route. We saw pika, marmot, and even a pine marten! The terrain was STEEP. It required us to cross a few streams, loose scree patches, do some traversing, create our own switchbacks, and even bushwhack through a dense willow/pine grove. We were on edge the whole time because we saw like four piles of moose poo and knew we had nowhere to hide in the event of an encounter. Izzy and I made it up and over the Divide and immediately met back up with the CT/CDT. Just off trail, we hung out for hours under a shady lone pine tree and waited for Garden Center. We weren’t expecting Lil Engine to show back up, as he was planning on staying in a hostel, but we were stoked and pleasantly surprised to see him chugging along down toward us late afternoon. The crew has been reunited! We all camped at the end of segment 7 in a low/flat spot near a stream just across from Copper East Lot.

Day 7/Seg 8

The boys continued on today and sent me their camping location via Garmin inReach. I am going to meet them at segment 9 tomorrow near Cooper Ski Area. I decided to skip segment 8 and take a zero day with my husband at a hotel in Silverthorne. Heck, I live here and I can always go back and do segment 8. I’ve skied Copper Mountain plenty and was not looking forward to the climb anyway. I was able to pickup some emergency bivys for me, Izzy, and Lil Engine at REI. It’s getting cold at night! I ate some more delicious town food, organized my resupply, and did some foot surgery on my sad toes and blisters. I had a great day with my love and my doggo, and I am ready to meet up with my tramily again bright and early in the morning. Colorado is expecting some snow so we’re all going to chug along and get a hotel together before the weather gets bad. This group of dudes has made me so happy as a solo female hiker. They’re kind, chill, and we all get along great. They respect me and I feel safe with them. It’s a win/win for me.

Finding Nemo

Brian called me Nemo on night two due to my tent, and it honestly just stuck! I am totally a lil Nemo, and this adventure has truly been a quest to find myself. I was worried that I wouldn’t be given a good trail name, but hey, this couldn’t be more perfect. I can’t freaking wait to just keep positively swimming down the trail! Happy trails ya’ll. I’ll update ya again soon.

Side note: The only reason I am a bit sad that we took an alternate route is because Lil Engine and Garden Center got to meet Jeff “Legend” Garmire on his FKT attempt on the climb out of Breck. Izzy and I were certain that Legend would have passed us already, but we were clearly mistaken. HEY LEGEND, I know you’re on the home stretch and ABOUT TO CRUSH THIS FKT. Congrats dude. I am sad I didn’t get to see you in all of your Tiger King glory!

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