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Embarking on the Colorado Trail!

Travel day: (the original day zero)

Leaving Austin today was tough. Luckily I had a lot of errands to run, which kept me a little distracted and in the present moment. I finalized last minute items for my 13-day section hike of the Colorado Trail. I ran to the post office to mail my resupply boxes, made my repair kit, wrapped Duct Tape around my poles and water bottle, finalized my first aid kit, and took pictures of the Colorado Trail Data Book pages for this section.

My cat (Orange Kitty) was protesting my packing majorly and his whining tugged at my heart as I felt sadness leaving him behind. It feels strange to plan something for just me. So many people solo hike and I’m grateful to get a chance to see what it feels like to be 100% self sufficient, but that excitement doesn’t come without sadness as well.

I wont be completely on my own as I’ve found a partner in crime to hike with. I’m meeting up with “Red Stripe” at the Waterton Canyon trail head (the northern terminus of the Colorado Trail in south Denver). I hiked with her in Maine as she was finishing her NoBo thru hike on the AT last August and I was reaching my half way point - almost 1 year ago now. She was the only other 30-something woman I met on trail, and I found so much comfort in knowing another woman in a similar life phase as me. We connected easily and hiked well together, and she’s just a kind and fun human. I am so looking forward to her companionship and friendship. It’s also nice to hike with someone who has completed the AT as we have that shared experience and we come with similar skill sets.

Red Stripe and I chatted and we were planning on starting our hike at 3:00 pm tomorrow, but after looking at the weather we decided to post pone our start until the next morning. The high temps were 100-102 from 3:00-7:00 pm. We would have killed ourselves in horrendous heat on Day 1. The forecast looked slightly better the next day (high of 88 degrees - which is still intensely hot in the sun), but doable.

I went to the climbing gym with Jamie and John and then hung out with the Halls for dinner. It felt good to have the extra day to finish up last minute items.

Day Zero: Denver (the day before the start of the CT).

I woke up and went to REI. I bought iodine tablets for treating water as a back up in case something happens to my Sawyer filter (which now that I have the back up all will be well with my filter). I also got a wind screen for my stove and some extra sunscreen.

I then met Robbie for lunch at Watercourse Foods - a really delicious 100% vegan restaurant in Denver.

Then we went back to his and Shelley’s house and I looked at all my gear and did a final shakedown of my pack. I decided to forego the umbrella and rain pants. I figured the weather patterns in the mountain mostly consist of short lived thunderstorms in the afternoon, and then the air is so dry that things will likely dry quickly. On the AT we had full days of rain back to back and it was so cold that the umbrella really kept my core warm and dry. I’m hoping the weather is more sunny and dry and the missing rain gear won’t be a regret. I also decided to leave behind the “brain” for my pack (the detachable part on top with convenient compartments). Leaving this part of my pack is a small weight saver and I don’t need the additional room.

I then practiced learning different knots and how to properly stow my paracord. I then needed to practice hanging my food. While I knew how to hang my food, I never did it on the AT. That was something Jamie always took care of while I cooked dinner. I’m super glad I practiced because I got my food stuck twice and learned some lessons on what not to do. I am a little afraid of my rope getting stuck in a tree, because that did happen to Jamie sometimes, but luckily this time I’m using an Ursack (which is a canvas like material that is supposedly puncture proof so a bear or other critter can’t access its contents) plus an odor proof liner bag (Opsack). So worst case scenario I can tie my bag to the trunk of a tree and it should be ok. Red Stripe and I decided to go this route because a lot of the trail is above tree line, so finding a proper tree to hang out food from will be a challenge anyway.

Robbie and I went bouldering in the afternoon to get a little exercise and I may have tweaked or pulled something in my left shoulder. The bouldering routes were very challenging at this particular gym, so I was definitely climbing right at the edge of my ability. I hope my shoulder calms down and doesn’t continue to be inflamed by carrying a 25 lb pack, but I’ll just take it day by day.

Tomorrow is a super early start to try and beat the heat and make up some of our lost miles from not starting today. I will take a Lyft to meet Red Stripe at 4:45 am and we will hopefully be hiking by 6:00 am.

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