From Maine to Colorado – Thoughts Before Heading West
It’s a familiar feeling. The preparation stage. Logistics, excitement, nerves, butterflies, gear finalization, planning, etc.. Soon enough, I’ll be on my way to start a thru-hike of the Colorado Trail! The closer my departure date gets, the more time I spend thinking about the trail and using my spare time to prepare and finalize the details. In 2019, I thru-hiked the Appalachian Trail, and although this is my second thru, the nervous feelings still remain.
Why the Colorado Trail?
Back in 2018, as a junior in high school, I became obsessed with Colorado, so much that I wanted to go to college there. My parents and I took a trip out to the state, toured some schools, visited Rocky Mountain National Park, and did some sightseeing!
Long story short, while on the AT, I decided I wanted to stay local for school to save money, so I promised myself I would visit the state at another time. My obsession with Colorado never went away though, and about a year after my AT thru-hike, I was craving another one. Unfortunately, because I didn’t work full time while in college, I couldn’t afford to be in the mountains for six months again, so I started searching for a shorter adventure.
That’s when I came across the CT, and the decision was nearly set in stone the second I started reading about it. 480 miles through some of the most beautiful, breathtaking mountains from Denver to Durango! Excited was an understatement for how I felt when it was time to start planning and purchasing gear.
Easier to Prepare for?
In comparison to the AT, this hike has been, for the most part, considerably easier to plan for, mainly because of the shorter length, and the fact that I’m confident in my hiking skills. I know what to expect trail-life-wise, for example: my hiking pace, my typical aches and pains, how to care for myself, my morning camp routine, and the foods I like to eat throughout the day. You wouldn’t think those things are very difficult to figure out about yourself, but when you’re thru-hiking, it takes a while to dial in your new routine and decide what works best for you out in the mountains. You go through a lot of change compared to normal everyday life, and everyone’s preferences and styles of hiking are different.
Or Harder to Prepare for? (Nerves!)
Don’t get me wrong, even though it has felt easier to prepare for this trail, there are still a few things that I’m quite nervous about.
One of the biggest thoughts running through my mind right now is elevation and how it could affect the way I feel out there. I grew up and live in Maine, somewhat close to the ocean. I suppose you could call me a sea-level girl. I’ve done lots of hiking in the western Maine mountains as well as in the White Mountains of New Hampshire, but even those don’t compare to the heights of the Rockies and other western ranges. Denver, Colorado is just about the same height as Katahdin, the tallest peak in Maine. It’s crazy to me that I’ll be starting this hike at 5,000+ ft and only going higher and higher, which I’m absolutely psyched about – but it also makes me a bit nervous.
Solo Traveling at 20
Another thing that I’ve had nerves about is the fact that I’ll be traveling alone and will be across the country. Sure, I was fine on the AT, but there was always that slight sense of security because my family could drive to get me at any time. They even came to visit me in Virginia and Pennsylvania! Being an 18-year-old solo female though, was definitely nerve-wracking at first. Although I’m 20 now, that feeling is still there.
I’ve also never traveled by plane alone, nor navigated airports and city transportation. I have a lot of mixed feelings about it all, because I’m both extremely excited and quite nervous, but I think it’s normal to feel those nerves. I did before the AT as well. Being dropped off in Georgia was frightening, but the excitement eventually overpowered, and I felt fine after a couple of days, which I assume will be the case in Colorado too. I know I’ll be just fine, and I can’t wait to have that experience, because I’m going to want to travel a lot more in the future, and I know I’ll be alone for some of that too.
T-Minus Two Weeks
The time has flown by! I’ll be leaving on July 6th! I’m almost at a loss for words to describe how excited I am for this hike. I’m not exactly sure what to expect, I just know it’s going to be completely different from New England. I’ve dreamt of hiking out west for a few years now, and I can’t wait to finally experience it. I’m a little bit sad that it’s only going to take about a month to hike, because I know I’m going to love it out there, so one of my goals is to really focus on being in the moment and to enjoy every minute! I’ll be journaling like I did on the AT, and hopefully uploading some entries here to The Trek 🙂 Thanks for taking the time to read and following along!
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