Day 1- The Rocky Road to Denver
The alarm went off at 5 am, but we were already awake with the first day jitters even though our bags were packed and ready to go. “Did I pack the right gear?” “Did I remember the nail clippers?” How hot will it be in Denver today?” “What if…”
In case you didn’t know, this part of Colorado has a free bus system. It is nice and clean and runs on time and did I mention free? There are buses that run around Breckenridge literally called ‘My Free Ride.” We could have taken this one down to town- but what’s a 10 minute walk when you are about to hike 9 miles?
The next set of buses (still clean and free) run between the local towns. This is the bus that picks hikers up from the trail head and delivers them to hostels and supermarkets. Our goal was the 6:45 am bus- the first one out of town.
Bus 2 (and 3 and 4)
I knew making bus two to Denver would be tight- but I thought we had a chance. The first bus to Denver leaves Frisco at 7:10 am. I anxiously watched the bus app while ON the bus to track our progress. At 7:10 we were literally blocks away. I briefly considered yelling “Let me off the bus!” and sprinting to the bus station. And then I remembered my ability to run. Or more like my non-ability to run.
So we missed the first ride to Denver. On the bright side it gave me time to go to Walmart (and get more coffee!). Last night the phone clip on my tripod broke. A mini tripod it totally worth the weight to me. I want not just pictures of the view but the view and hikers. I had to buy the EXACT SAME tripod I bought at home to get an new phone clip. If you ever wonder how hikers end up with multiples of stuff – this is how.
I have been Insta stalking all the the hikers that started on the first and one of them said that they had asked past hikers what they would change. The answer was take more time and take more pictures with people. This helps me feel better about our plan to take it slow to Breckenridge. It also lets me know that the tripod really is that important.
While we waited the 2 hours for the next bus to Denver, John and I ate mini pies and chatted with fellow hikers. I thought it was pretty neat there were 4 other hikers hanging out with us until it turned out we were all at the WRONG bus station. Side note: if you find yourself in Frisco trying to get to Denver- the Bustang (yep- that’s it’s real name) stop is at the entrance NOT at the structure in the middle that looks like a bus stop. Because we had to hustle across the parking lot when the bus showed up we were at the back of a very long line. Bus number 3 was full.
I love to plan as an enneagram 1. I have a spreadsheet for the Colorado Trail with all the tabs and pages both printed and saved for offline. But the one lesson the trail teaches over and over again is that your perfect plan will immediately be ruined the moment you set on trail. Or in this case just try to get to the trail.
The six of us hikers were able to get a ride on Pegasus (again it’s real name) on a day I didn’t even think it ran. Finally bus number 4 had us heading in the right direction.
The only hitch- no overhead storage.
From downtown Denver we took an Uber to the trailhead. It just seemed faster and simpler then the light rail and a shuttle. Our very nice driver had us there by 12:30.
I’ll be honest this first section is not my favorite. Yes it’s flat and a very gradual uphill, but the road is hard under the feet and it is hot. I spent the first mile fighting my umbrella and melting in the 90 degree full sun heat. We stopped at every single picnic area for me to throw down my pack for that first mile. There *may* have been tears.
Thankfully, a thunderstorm passed overhead while we were (again) stopped under shelter at mile 2. The temperature rapidly dropped and the rest of the hike up to Lenny’s Rest was much more enjoyable.
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