Part 2, Day 1 — Things Left Undone

Saturday, June 27 — Miles 267.2-282.1 (14.9 miles for the day)

It’s been just under two years since Isaac and I attempted our Colorado Trail thru-hike. Looking back on that experience, I can still see that ending our trip early was the right decision for us. That said, the idea of “things left undone” has tugged at me a bit. Thanks to COVID-19 (and an inability to do much travel this summer), our schedule is a bit clearer, and it feels like the right time to spend two weeks in the woods to finish out the remaining 220 miles.

So this morning we find ourselves being shuttled to the trail at the generosity of our trusty chauffeur (thanks dad!). We’re starting at Segment 16, mile marker 267.2. The drive takes us over three hours and includes a stop at the Coyote Coffee Den in Penrose for a tasty start to our day.

Between the good coffee, excellent conversation, and beautiful drive, it seems we’re at the trailhead in no time at all. And then it’s hugs to dad and a parting prayer and we’re off down the road around 10am.

The weather is sunny, the grade is easy, and the views are lovely. It’s definitely feeling like a good day to hike. We’ve already done the first 12 miles of this segment two years ago. At the time we were stuck in an insane thunder storm and we were hike-running our way through these hills to avoid lightening. Definitely one of our scarier moments out here.

Today, however, the day is perfect and we enjoy the trail as it meanders along an exposed ridge. Our pace is slow as we get used to the altitude and the feel of backpacking, but we’re easing into the rhythm.

We encounter only a handful of people out here: a smattering of mountain bikers and two CT thru-hikers headed north from Durango, the latter of which involved a pleasant conversation.

At 12 miles in, we reach a stream where we fill all our water vessels to the brim. We have three miles left to go, and we’ll be dry-camping on Sargent’s Mesa tonight. Those last three miles prove to be a bit of a morale-killer—all uphill with no breaks. Isaac and I are both feeling it, and I have to admit I’m bummed that my muscles and joints are already hurting so much. It’s only day one!

We reach camp by 5:30 and are swift to set up our tent and throw the gear inside before a storm moves in. It looks darker then it proves to be, though, and it only rains briefly before we’re able to emerge and make dinner.

Now we’re tucked inside, with Isaac writing haikus and reading his bible while I record our day. It feels good to be out here, but also a bit overwhelming. I’m worried about the prospect of bad weather and sore muscles and cold temperatures and insufficient food supply… but I guess that’s all part of hiking. We’ll figure it out. And in the meantime, we’re thankful for the journey.

Isaacs daily haiku:

COVID is a stew.

The days keep seeping together.

But not a good stew.

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