Friday, May 25, 2018 — Miles 0.0–8.7 (8.7 miles for the day)
I wake at 4:30, eyes bright and mind racing about the day ahead. I think about how comfortable our bed is, how cool the morning is. I’m filled with anticipation as I rouse Isaac for our first day, and then it’s hurry scurry around the house; gathering last minute things, feeding the cat, making our bed. Then we’re in the car, and we’re off!
That’s right, we’re headed to downtown Denver for work. We have a boring day of office drudgery standing between us and the trail. We park and head to our respective skyscrapers: he on the 35th floor and me on the 29th. I skip the stairs and take the elevator. Plenty of time for climbing things later.
Then it’s a quick day of finishing up loose ends. Meetings and presentations and deliverables and emails and expense reports. Finally it’s time to trade out my heels for hiking shoes, and we’re back in the car, headed for the trail. By 2 pm, we’re at Waterton Canyon, the trailhead for Segment 1.
We lock the car and strap on our packs, and now we’re truly off! The first 6 miles of the trail follow a wide gravel utility road to the Strontia Springs Dam. We wind our way gradually upward in the baking hot sun as bikers continually pass us by. We’re the only ones out here with overnight gear and we get a few stares.
At the dam, we run into a true hiker, Ken, who is one of the “ultralight” varieties. He gives us friendly advice on gear and the trail ahead. We eat a snack and move on, but not before noticing a pack (flock? gaggle?) of big horn sheep perched on the canyon walls.
The road turns into single track trail, and we climb up, up, up the mountainside. Now it feels like we’re really doing it: the trail is beautiful, alive with the colors of wild flowers and spots of sun shining through the dense forest. We summit our first big climb and admire the views. Already this portion of the trail is more lovely than we’d been led to believe.
We head down through the forest for a mile and make camp at the side of a mountain creek. Then it’s camp time, and we set up the tent, filter water, and make plans for tomorrow. We also discover that I accidentally brought the empty fuel canister, not the full one. Oops! Isaac says, “no matter”, and we enjoy our cold soaked mashed potatoes while listening to the sounds of nature. I’m thankful to be here, to be off grid in creation, to savor this special experience.