Crew Queen notes from first 90 miles of the CT with Robbie
Day 1 of Crewing Robbie’s Colorado Trail run: 41 miles
After about 3 hours of sleep and a late night of packing the van and staging things to get packed (some of which were forgotten), we were up and at it around 4:30 am. We met the film crew and the rest of my family in the parking lot at Wateron Canyon. We took a few pictures and a group of us ran with Robbie for a few miles as he started his 485 mile mountain run from Denver to Durango.
It is incredible how vivid my memories are of each place I’m revisiting along the CT. From the start, to the South Platte River crossing to the fire station - all the waypoints brought back very vivid memories and feelings. I remember soaking my feet in the South Platte river on day one with Red Stripe (my hiking partner) as we thru hiked the CT in 21 days back in 2019. I remember we ate dinner at the fire station and were excited about there being both a spigot AND a bench! I remember exactly where we set up our tents about a mile down trail from the volunteer fire station. It all just came flooding back. It is amazing how memory is stored when on trail. I don’t know if it’s the pace of life or the fact that there aren’t the millions of distractions that are inherent in the modern world day to day living that allow for memory to be so acute regarding the experiences I had out there. Maybe when your internal clock is truly in sync with the nature’s clock our mental and emotional functions run more smoothly.
After Robbie’s start, half the group dispersed but the film crew and @scrappy were with me the rest of the day. Shelley helped get me acquainted with where everything belongs in the van. Man, she has such an acute attention to the detail. Everything has a place and their new van cabinets were designed and built with so much thought and care. Luckily most of the bins are labeled which makes finding things easier, but many times it is still a game of Tetris to take out all the boxes or bins just to find the one bin you need and then reverse them back in to their spots.
Shelley and I spent some time with Guthook and google maps plotting waypoints, checkpoints and possible ending points for each day. The map making with only 1-2 bars of LTE service on a phone is NOT easy, and quite labor intensive. We then rushed to get to the trailhead to meet Robbie for the end of the day thinking we for sure were going to arrive after him. A comedy of errors ensued in which we kept losing our map due to no cell service or taking wrong turns. We suddenly got hungry and pulled over for some bananas and then I had a VERY oily almond butter mini fiasco. We finally arrived and no one was there. The film crew must’ve hiked out to film Robbie and about 2 minutes after parking we saw Robbie running down the trail towards us! We were shocked we beat him, but played it off nonchalantly.
Robbie finished his first day just before 4:00 pm so we had tons of daylight to hang out and figure out some logistics. After chilling and chatting we decided to spend some time figuring out the rooftop tent (which was where I was supposed to sleep for the trip). Between three of us climbing on the roof and the ladder denting the van all over the place and the tent really not cooperating and requiring WAY too much effort and time we decided to call it off and I would just set up my backpacking tent behind the van.
I went to get my pack and realized my tent poles were missing! They were attached externally and must’ve gotten lost somehow in one of the airports! Luckily, there was a third tent we had packed for backup and it was quite the pain to set up as well. Not to mention, it is so hot out and the tent ONLY works with the rainfly attached. There is a ver tiny window, but otherwise it is a very warm double tent with no breeze, but it got the job done.
We met so many thru hikers starting their journey. Many of them looked like it was their first time thru hiking and many with seemingly heavy packs. We met a section hiker at the end of the day who was ready to call it quits. We encouraged him to keep going as the hitch out didn’t seem very promising. I also told him a piece of advice I had heard prior to getting on the Appalachian Trail: hike at least 100 miles or 5 consecutive days before calling it quits. You never know when that second wind will kick in. He said thanks for the advice and pressed on another 2.5 miles to camp.
After Shelley and the film crew left for the evening, Robbie and I retired to be horizontal at like 6:45 pm. There was still so much daylight but luckily we were cashed and sleep deprived and wanted to hopefully sleep a lot to get an early start for a long day ahead of us.
The flies and mosquitos were relentless at camp. Just the sound of them hovering outside of my tent caused me to wear ear plugs.
The comedy of errors didn’t end with calling it an early night and trying to catch up on some sleep deficits. I accidentally spilled my water bottle INSIDE my tent! How that has never happened to me prior is a complete mystery, but I covered it up with a blanket and dealt with the wet sheet the next morning. Wet wipe shower in the tiny tent I can’t sit up in was tricky but I managed and am appreciative to be a little cleaner.
Day 2 of Crewing Robbie’s Colorado Trail run: 50 miles (91 miles total)
My alarm went off at 5:00 am. I slept pretty well and was at least horizontal and relaxed for 10 hours. The temperature cooled off quite a bit throughout the night so I found myself putting more and more layers on and chasing warmth throughout the night. The moon was bright and almost full.
I saw Robbie off at 5:45 am and wouldn’t see him again until the 31 mile spot at Kenosha Pass. This allowed me to run many morning errands. I drove back to the outskirts of the Denver area to a Walmart and bought a tent for this CT run mission and some fruit and snacks and a few miscellaneous forgotten items.
I then stopped again to refill the empty gallons of water, get some new ice for the cooler, and drain the cooler. I called Big Agnes and explained my missing tent pole situation and they were so helpful and nice and were able to get me a used pair from their warehouse. Hallelujah! This was clutch because the tent itself is sold out EVERYWHERE (REI online, in store, Big Agnes etc).
I also contacted our friend Lelis who is the owner of the hostel in Leadville and an accomplished ultra-runner. Even though the entire house is booked he was able to find beds and showers for us above the garage for the end of day 3. Hallelujah!
When I got to Kenosha Pass I figured I was a little early so I decided to run out to find Robbie and run him back in. I ran out 5 very gorgeous miles through aspen groves, wide open views and passes, pine forest woods. It had a little taste of everything. When Robbie and I got back to the van I fed him avocado bagel and watermelon, refilled his Skratch and he was on his way. The smoke from nearby wildfires had blown in and we could smell the fire and feel it in our lungs (along with being at 10,000 ft!).
I drove a long and bumpy dirt road to get to the next aid stop which was 12 miles up to Georgia Pass. When I got to an intersection in the road with a large flat area for the van I pulled over and hiked the rest of the way to the trailhead. The road turned into a very rutted out narrow path that was not passable for the van and I. I brought Skratch, a banana, and a headlamp for Robbie, met him at the intersection and ran back to the van.
I was skeptical about the next section. There was a small area that only google maps seemed to recognize as a “road.” Apple Maps and Guthook both directed me back down the mountain and around to Breckenridge to get to the other side of the mountains (1 hr 30 min drive) versus the tempting Google map route which showed the roads connecting over the pass. The dirt “road” literally dead-ended into a person’s tent. There was no passage so I needed to reverse out and take a long detour. Luckily I had warned Robbie this might be possible and he might beat me to our meeting spot because of this, but we didn’t really have a way to communicate this.
The mishaps started rolling in. First it was the MASSIVE detour (which also involved getting more gas), then something was wrong with the speakers and only part of the music was playing (turns out the Bluetooth cord just needed some jiggling), then I had to illegally park in Breckenridge to pick up our vegan pizza from Piante (a plant based Neapolitan-style pizzeria that was AAAAAMMMAAAAAZING)! I rushed to meet Robbie because I was SURE he was going to beat me since he mostly had a downhill stretch when Guthook stopped showing my location in relation to the CT and I wasn’t confident in Google maps. I arrived at the CT trailhead finally and tried to do a multi-point turn in the dirt road because I needed to park the van back 0.2 mi where a few other cars were camping and all of a sudden the van was STUCK. Like really stuck.
No cell service and no Robbie… I wrote him a note on a paper towel saying I went to get help and as I was leaving I heard “uh oh!” As Robbie rolled in. We worked at it for a little while before Robbie said I should go down the road and ask for help. He said look for a pick up truck to pull the van out. I ran down the road 0.2 mi and there were exactly two vehicles. One was a pickup and another was an old van. The man with the pick up truck and his 4 year old were so nice and helpful and came to the rescue and we were able to successfully use straps to pull the van out! We turned it around and got back to camp around 10:15 pm SO relieved. Trail magic at its finest. The perfect vehicle and the perfect person to help us out.
I was so glad we didn’t have to make dinner and all we had to do was eat pizza and call it a night. I set up the new Walmart tent in the dark. It was easy to set up and very straight forward and sturdy seeming. I went to bed and it began raining some… luckily I put the rain fly on! 11:15 pm bed time and Robbie is waking up at 4:15 am tomorrow as we head into Breckinridge, Copper Mountain and end the day in Leadville.