Learning to Walk

Colorado Trail: Denver to Lost Creek


And so it begins!

This section was so difficult and so fulfilling. I didn’t know what I was in for, and this first 57 miles just about made me give up. But in the end, it was all worth it. Here’s a recap of the first part of the trail.

Day 1: Waterton to the burn scar

The first day, I was filled with anxiety and anticipation. Echoes of doubts and fears I had leading up to the trail bounced around in my head. What if I can’t do this? What if it’s not for me? What if it turns out I’m all alone? My worries slowly dissipated as my feet pounded out the first miles on Waterton Canyon road.  The Canyon is wonderful, filled with the sounds of the foaming, roaring river. The road was long and flat (the easiest hiking on the entire trail, probably). “I can do this,” I thought. Little did I know there was a surprisingly steep climb coming up. It seemed to take an eternity, but once at the top I took in the valley through which I’d hiked. Already the manmade spires of Denver were disappearing into the distance.

Looking forward from the segment 1 high point towards the burn scar.

After a long siesta at the bottom of the first valley, my original planned stopping point, I decided to push myself further into the dry burn scar of segment 2. It was a mistake. I loaded myself up with five oh-so-heavy liters of water, another mistake given the climb out of the valley.

Transitioning into the dry dry Segment 2

By the time I got to camp, I was in altitude shock and couldn’t force myself to eat or drink. After some electrolytes from kind section hikers and a halting night’s sleep, I woke the next morning mostly recovered.

The following days

After the first day the trail became less and less governed by time. As I transitioned into this lifestyle, the hours and days blended together into a solid stream of experience. The next morning, I began hiking with an awesome group of section hikers, and would continue on with them for several days.

The burn scar gives me very desert-y vibes

The burn scar of segment 2 had an austere and harsh beauty, but segment 3 nearly put me to sleep with rows and rows of pine trees. That boredom was quickly gone once I entered the Lost Creek Wilderness Area.

Wilderness Areas are special places set aside by Congress to have no signs of human development. Wildernesses are remote and secluded, and I loved the quiet and untouched feel of the area. The land was covered with aspen forest, and the creeks sang their way down the rocky mountainside.

The trail climbed up high and then dropped into a beautiful, very long valley (appropriately named “Long Gulch”). It was here that I first left the trail (but that story will have to wait for another time). This valley was the first time I had the feeling “this is why I do this”. It was gorgeous.


Looking forward

While the first miles seemed to drag by, I was already halfway to Breckenridge. All too soon, I’d be there. Stay tuned for a recap to Breck soon!

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