Why Hike 500 Miles?
Heyo!! I’m JT, and I’m going to be hiking the Colorado Trail this summer. I’m really excited to be hiking and to share in this awesome thru-hiking community. The Trek is where I’ve always gone for inspiration, and so I’m so fired up to put my own content out there now. I hope some of this may prove useful to future thru-hikers!
Some About Me & My Life
As long as I can remember, I’ve been fascinated by the outdoors. Much of that love came from trees, but it has grown to include nature and the natural world as a whole (I love the outdoors so much I’m studying Environmental Science in college starting this fall). The outdoors has become a space of healing and growth for me as I’ve grown into my teen years, and as I have grown older I have made more and more attempts to get out on the long trails in my state. Sometime near the start of high school, one of my awesome friends introduced me to Backpacker Radio. I’m so lucky that she did, because that podcast sparked my interest in thru-hiking, which has set me on that path that I’m still following today!
Some things about me:
- I love to hike (duh…), but also rock climb, boulder, swim, kayak, explore cross-country (map/compass), trail/road run, mountain/road bike, and paddleboard. Anything outside, really.
- I love getting coffee with friends at Midnight Oil, having deep conversations, going on youth group service trips (sometimes across the nation), and taking long walks on our local paths and trails. I have some really awesome friends who put up with me in the day to day 🙂
- I work at an awesome locally owned restaurant, Burrito Day, and have really enjoyed my time there. Thanks Brandon and Kari, for being such awesome people!
- Some of my favorite “adventuring” places here in Arkansas are:
- And here’s some pictures of people I love:
So What About the Trail?
For those unfamiliar, the Colorado Trail is 500 miles of footpath through the high mountains between Denver and Durango. It’s incredibly beautiful– the Colorado Trail Foundation proudly calls the trail “mile for mile the most beautiful trail in America”, and I don’t doubt it.
The breadth and variety of responses I’ve gotten from people when they hear about my trail dreams has been disorienting. Some people are excited, some jealous, some anxious, some confused, or and some even frustrated. Most have had at least a few big questions or concerns, and with several I’ve had months-long conversations about thru-hiking. Their initial anxiety is understandable. The trail includes difficult climbs, deep water crossings, high snow risks, the threat of bears and mountain lions, food-marauding marmots (no, seriously), high-elevation thunderstorms, rapid temperature swings, thin air, lightning, hail… the list could go on and on. Objectively looking at the risks, I should not be doing this trail.
So why am I still dead set on hiking?
For as long as I can remember, I’ve always had an adventurous streak. To me, this feels like a good progression for me, a healthy stepping out into the unknown. As I graduate from high school and step into more adultish responsibilities, I think that it’s only fitting to accompany that with a time of self discovery on my own. Ultimately, this hike isn’t a vacation– it’s a time I’m setting aside for myself to learn more about myself and about the world.
And about the risks? Well, in truth, the worst danger I face along the way on this trip isn’t the hiking itself, it isn’t bears, it isn’t even storms. The biggest danger is the travel to the trailhead, a level of risk we all take for granted every single day. Additionally, I find a lot of solace in the trail community as a resource I can lean on in trouble. Ultimately though, there is no activity without risk, because the world is inherently a dangerous place. I don’t want fear to keep me from doing important and beautiful things, and so I won’t let it get in the way of this hike.
You’ll have to wait for a future gear and logistics post where I’ll describe the nitty gritty of hiking 500 miles across Colorado. But suffice it to say for right now, it’s complicated and deserves a post of its own.
That’s all for now!
I’m so excited to step into this wild and beautiful experience in a few weeks, and I’m so stoked you’ve decided to come along with me through these words. ‘Till next time!
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