Well I just got back from spending a week in Colorado, and I couldn’t be more relaxed, tired, sore and proud… all at once. Living in Texas almost all of my life, which means living just barely above sea level, I feel like I am in decent physical shape. That is until I go and climb in some mountains! The Colorado Trail is challenging in many ways, and it varies through each segment with different types of challenges along the way. In our combined goal to complete the entire Colorado Trail, this year was the second year that all of my siblings plus my sister-in-law were able to hike it together. That alone is an accomplishment if you look at the list of complications in the last 12 months leading up to this hike. One person had some debilitating back issues, another had a massive lower abdomen surgery, and another was diagnosed with cancer/fought cancer/beat cancer… all within the last year!
In an effort to try and catch up on my overall completion, I decided to hike Segment 1 this year by myself to mark off one of the early sections that I was not able to do with my siblings. And what I learned is that no matter how strong you feel physically, you have to be strong mentally as well. My mind is pretty strong, but what I didn’t anticipate was the
mental weakness along the 16.8 mile hike becoming a factor. Segment 1 is 16.8 miles from the official beginning of the Colorado Trail, and the first 13 miles of that is steadily, and sometimes very steep, uphill. Being from Texas, you just can’t train fro that amount of climbing for that many hours. Which is where the mental strength comes in. It took some time to battle through the solitude and painful struggle of maintaining my pace so that I could meet my ride at the end of the trail on time. I quickly learned, I would much rather backpack these segments with some company! Add to that the fear of bears in the immediate area (marked by signs stating there was an aggressive bear in the area recently), the lack of food because I made a mistake packing for the day, and the early onset of blisters on my feet… and you have a rough day of solo backpacking! But I made it, I kept my pace for the segment, and I got some great pictures along the way.
The real challenge this year came a day later, when I hit the trail with my family. We set out to complete Segment 6 of the Colorado Trail. This segment is 32.7 miles, and our plan was to take 3 days to complete it. This segment had a total of 5200 feet of climbing, and it
floated up and down between 10,000-12,000 feet for all three days. Difficult to say the least. But we made it as a team. We had to push hard through some tough sections when we all wanted to quit and rest. So another year down and we are able to mark another segment off the list, and all with no injuries (aside from blisters). We had some good time together as a family, and got plenty of great pictures of the area! Here are some of my favorite shots from Segment 1 and Segment 6. Enjoy!