Since my adventurous sister retired young and left Texas to live in the mountains , I’ve been extremely blessed by her generous willingness to invite me along on many exciting excursions. Two years ago we hiked a segment of the Colorado Trail for the first time. On that trip we also climbed “almost” to the summit of Mt. Massive which is part of segment 10, and I gained a little experience with hiking with a heavy pack and sleeping on a mountain. This was a great opportunity to overcome some fears of the great big outdoors. Along the way we made some new friends and we’ve stayed in touch since then, so this year we all decided to hike together again! The plans came together so easily, the various possible obstacles were cleared , and we had such a great time that I feel sure the trip was a God thing, a blessing for sure .
Flying during the Coronavirus outbreak was a little strange with a half empty airport and airplane but I had no problems .
My sister picked me up at the Colorado Springs airport on Monday. She had been traveling around Utah and Colorado for a couple of months in her new Geopro camper. Once I got to Colorado, I knew that this trip was actually going to happen and I was so excited.
We spent the night at the Cheyenne mountain state park which is next to the site of NORAD. The next morning I got in a short, but fun and scenic hike/jog on the trails there .
After packing up, we left her camper at a friend’s house since we would not need it for a few days, grabbed some to-go salads from Trader Joes and then drove the hundred miles to Twin Lakes where we would camp that night . Luckily we found a good site and set up our tents and ducked into them before it started raining. Afternoon and evening showers would be the pattern for the next few days. We got with re-acquainted with our friends and their daughter and tiny dog after they met up with us there. They were traveling in their cool customized camper van which they slept in that night.
The next morning we packed up and had to drive to the end of Segment 14 where we dropped off the van , then drove back to the beginning of the segment where we left my sister’s vehicle and hoped it would be okay for the next three days. It was.
After taking many photos , we headed out for day one of the hike! Our goal was around 7 miles for the first day. I was secretly a little nervous about my ability to 1)carry the pack without pain or my back giving out and 2)handle the climbs and any scary sections. But as we began the trail looked really nice.
The first part of the trail included a pretty difficult climb and lots of gasping for air along the way. We took our time and made it to the “top” and took a break .
After a few more ups and downs we came to a flatter section that lasts for awhile . We stopped for lunch and to rest .
Shortly after we started hiking again the rain moved in which is common during July in Colorado. We put on our ponchos and kept going. I silently prayed that it wouldn’t lightning or rain too hard and it didn’t . Along the way I was trying to find the best posture to carry my pack. I eventually learned that I needed to stick my butt out a little more because I tend to tuck it in. By the third day I was much more comfortable.
After a couple more hours we came to the area near a stream where we had planned to refill our water and camp for the night and looked around for a good flat area for our tents . Shortly after setting up camp in the wind and rain , the rain cleared and we decided to go hike a nearby trail called Browns Creek Falls. That trail lead us to some great camping areas, flowers , streams and a beautiful waterfall. We didn’t take our big packs so the hike was much easier . We also passed some horseback riders along the way. Do not skip this trail! If we had known about it we would have camped out there. The trail continues further , but we just did an out and back . This trail is also accessible from off the main Colorado Trail. The post-rain temperature was cool and comfortable, thus the jackets. I even wore gloves at times during the trip.
After returning to camp, refilling our water from the stream and cooking and eating our rehydrated dinner Backpackers Pantry Chana Masala, we were all pretty worn out and retired to our tents . I didn’t sleep that well because it was very windy and rained more during the night and I was a little nervous about trees or branches falling on us or bears coming into camp. All was well ,though ,and the next morning was a beautiful day.
The next day we decided to go a little further because we felt good and our friends’ daughter was doing a great job hiking . Thanks to the Colorado Trail guidebook and Guthook trail app we knew where the water sources were and potential camping sites, as well as the elevation changes. We made it 9 miles pretty easily and pitched our tents near an actual Forest service campground (Monarch Park) which was nice because we could use their toilets. Super nice park and friendly hosts. One problem I had on this trip trouble going to the bathroom outside, namely pooping. It eventually sorted itself out when I remembered and found my magnesium tablets in my pack . I highly recommend them to stay regular when eating a low fiber camp food diet. The area was very beautiful and our camp site was within earshot of a running creek, actually the Arkansas river. It rained again that night but not as much, and I got a little more sleep . Along the trail we came to a trail that actually caused me a little fear even though it wasn’t super narrow. I don’t like when I can see the drop off on the edge of a trail, but with prayer and self talk , I made it. Hiking wouldn’t be as fun without some challenges! There were interesting sights and beautiful views everywhere such as the old cabin below. The trail itself is amazingly well maintained by thousands of volunteers and feels like you’re in a park most of the time.
Day three: We knew we didn’t have very far to go to finish the hike so we took our time eating breakfast and packing up camp. The day was just starting and I was already starting to anticipate the end of the hike and feeling a little sad. I really enjoyed every moment of the 5 miles we hiked that day. I think we all did. We were all very chatty and seemed to be taking our time. We stopped for a snack a few times and then climbed the last hill before the final descent to the parking lot where the van waited patiently for us.
The hike was over but we still had one night of camping left so we found a nearby KOA campground and even though the guy said it was full, he changed his mind and gave us a site. We were all very excited to take hot showers and eat a good meal on a picnic table. My sister and I went into town and bought rotisserie chickens, watermelon and Michelob Ultra to celebrate our last night together with our friends. It was a happy feast! One more night in the tent and then we packed up early the next morning and headed to the airport. I’m always sad to leave, but it was such a great trip, the sadness is worth it. I don’t think this blog does it justice and I can’t believe I waited so long to write it, almost two whole weeks, but it was just too fresh on my mind and I didn’t feel like sharing yet. I hope you enjoyed the photos as much as I enjoyed taking them. If you ever get the chance to hike a part or all of the Colorado Trail, do it! It’s a beautiful, glorious hike.
Garmin elevation tracks. Around 4000 feet up and down. Day one, two , three.