How a Warm-Blooded Southerner Preps for the Colorado Trail

Date: November 2014
Location: Grayson Highlands, VA
Temps: below freezing
Snow fall: more than I’d ever seen in my life (somewhat facetious)

We were two days away from the end of our 1700-mile ME-Marriage adventure. We were four days away from our wedding, and I was three days away from trying on my wedding dress options for the first time. In short, there was something of a time crunch when the skies opened up and dumped a foot of snow on the Grayson Highlands as we trudged into Wise Shelter. We wisely decided to zero at Wise (something I don’t recommend- shelter zeros are boring and far less appetizing than town zeros), and we not-so-wisely decided to bushwhack our way out of the Highlands and hitch down to Damascus, the end of our journey. The bushwhack yielded waist-deep drifts, crawling on our hands and knees and one sighting of a 10-point buck (the only good thing to come out of the whole snowy ordeal). All of this is to say, I vowed then and there (in the Elk Garden parking lot) to never go winter camping again.

Maybe the 10-pointer wasn't the only good thing to come of the whole, snowy ordeal. Who can say no to an adorable snowfrog?!

Maybe the 10-pointer wasn’t the only good thing. Who can say no to an adorable snowfrog?!

We moved to Colorado a month later. Not just Colorado, but Crested Butte, Colorado, a quaint village in the middle of the Rockies about 9,000′ above sea level. Turns out 9,000′ above sea level is equivalent to the arctic circle when it comes to snowfall and the length of winter. Also turns out, you can’t live here and not winter camp. Sleeping in your own bed sometimes feels like winter camping. It’s that cold.

Better be prepared for some cold weather out here!

Better be prepared for some cold weather out here!

We’ve been in Colorado a little over a year now saving up to hike another long distance trail. Our initial plan was to tackle the PCT, but funding and timing hasn’t allowed for such a grand endeavor. Also, we live in Colorado, home of the Colorado Trail. The implications were obvious, and we succumbed to the obvious in no time. Thus, in less than two years, I’ve denounced winter camping as the devil and begun planning a thru-hike quite possibly consisting thoroughly of winter camping. Let’s face it, in Colorado there is always the chance you’ll be winter camping!

The Plan: Colorado Trail September 2016
The Cost: hopefully below $2000
The Gear: Hand-me-downs from our AT hike

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Comments 1

  • Sonny : Mar 5th

    I have questions that are more functional in nature with regard to hiking with your dog on the AT. Its been difficult to find anyone to answer….. I hope you don’t mind….

    I will be going in 2019 with my 110 lb. golden-doodle. I have noticed in my research that there is some challenging climbing. My pup is athletic and healthy but can be stubborn at times if she lacks the confidence in some situations. She is too big for me to carry. My questions are :

    Is the climbing doable for dogs on the AT, or does it just looks difficult on the Vlogs ???

    If they are to difficult for her, are there bypasses or walk arounds ???

    Thank you very much for your time


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