Two years ago my adventurous sister hiked a segment of the Colorado Trail for the first time. On that trip we climbed “almost” to the summit of Mt. Massive which is part of segment 10. I gained a little experience with hiking with a heavy pack and sleeping on a mountain. This was a great opportunity to battle my fears of bears and mountain lions. Along the way we made some new friends , so this year we decided to hike together! 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 my trip went smoothly . 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 right 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 arrived. 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 left alone for the next three days. It was.
After taking many photos , we headed out for day one of the hike with our friends and their little dog. 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 between that and the altitude, we were gasping for air . 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 of the trail where we stopped to rest and eat lunch .
Shortly after we started hiking again the rain started 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 than usual. 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 which turned out to be a real gem. 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 extend our miles 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 was 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 it when I can see the drop off on the edge of a trail, but with prayer and self talk , I got through the scary section. 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 host 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 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.
Thanks so much for sharing your adventure! The photos are fabulous. 🙌🌲🌲🐎💝
Oh my God PK, I’m so jelly right now! That looks like such a great adventure, which is something I need right now. But those are some gorgeous pics of your trip!
I hope you can go one day soon ! I’m jelly because a runner I follow is now running the entire Colorado trail! Courtney Duwalter.
Great write up.
So enjoyed reading this! I used to do a lot of backpacking and I can relate to some of the things you said. Colorado is especially gorgeous isn’t it?
I love Colorado! ❤
Wow what a great hike! I like it when you can do it at a nice pace. Hubby tends to hit the trail with the mindset of conquer it as fast as possible. I like to take my time. He always thinks we will run out of time. We always get there an back in half the time he thinks LOL Your trip is the right way to do it. Very refreshing to read that you have some of the same thoughts when out there that I do. I always felt I was the only one hehe 🙂 Thanks for sharing it all with us PK.
Lol! Being rushed can take some of the fun out it. I do have a desire to go back to this trail and run it in one day, without a pack. It’s only 21 miles so I should be able to do it. But I’m glad I got to do it slowly! It was really nice. Thanks for reading!