This Open Road

A season walking southbound on the Appalachian Trail

The Colorado Trail: Week One

I’m finally catching up on the last of my post-Laramie, pre-Tokyo adventures.

(I stalled out a bit on posting from Japan as my camera quit working during my first week. I recently bought a new Canon and am excited to document the next three months of my life here, following this post.)


Just a few days after returning from the Americana Road Trip, I sorted my gear, packed my backpack and headed to the northern terminus of the Colorado Trail.

I had a month left before I was to fly to Tokyo and couldn’t think of a better way to spend the late summer days than to hike through the Colorado mountains. I’ve done the CT twice before (1991 with friends, 2000 solo) so I knew what to expect and was thrilled to begin this trek. The trail winds 480 miles from the foothills west of Denver, over several ranges and passes, along rivers, and through open land to the southern Colorado mountain town of Durango.

It was my intention to do the whole trail in three and a half weeks, but soon I realized that was too ambitious. I’ve hiked many consecutive 20+ mile days on other backpacking trips on much more difficult terrain and thought I’d be able to do that on the CT. But I didn’t have the time to acclimate to the higher mileage. I had recently run the Morgan Valley Marathon and was still recovering from that. I was also registered to run another marathon a week into this trip, which I did, but was very fatigued for the next week. I also needed more time to regroup before going to Tokyo, so I let go of having to do a thru-hike, and hiked just over halfway and will finish the second half another time.

On August 9, my folks drove me to the trailhead at Waterton Canyon, we took pictures, and I began my journey into the woods. My dad walked the first few miles with me before turning back.





The first six miles of the CT follow a dirt road through Waterton Canyon.

The first six miles of the CT follow a dirt road through Waterton Canyon.

Bighorn Sheep are common here.

Bighorn Sheep are common here.


After leaving the road, the trail enters the trees and begins a gradual ascent.


I didn’t have to wait too long before I was rewarded with an amazing meal and a visit from a good friend! Chris met me at the end of my first day with steak, salad, dessert and a fun night of conversation and car camping. Thank you, Chris!

Trail magic!

Trail magic!



I couldn’t get too used to this as this was only Day 1 and I had a long way to go in a short amount of time. The next morning we packed up and Chris and her pooch, Mia, walked a few miles with me.



For the next week, I enjoyed nicely graded trails, beautiful skies, and the gradual climb to the Colorado high country.









Going over Georgia Pass, heading toward Breckenridge…


The Colorado Trail and the Continental Divide Trail are the same trail for about 100 miles.


Share the trail. Racers competing in the Breck Epic.

Share the trail. Racers competing in the Breck Epic.

Descending into Breck.

Slash piles left from the Pine Beetle infestation.

Spent a night in Breck at The Bivouac, a new hostel in town.

Spent a night in Breck at The Bivouac, a new hostel in town.


The next day, I hiked over Ten Mile Range and into Copper Mountain where I met my folks at Highway 91.


Looking back down the trail.


Marmot posing.

Marmot posing.

Heading down the other side.

Heading down the other side.

Copper Mountain and beyond.

Copper Mountain and beyond.


Two days later I ran the Revel Rockies Marathon and returned to hike for another week.

End of Week One.

End of Week One. Wheeler Flats Trailhead.

Week Two, to be continued…


2 responses to “The Colorado Trail: Week One

  1. Chris Ann November 5, 2014 at 1:08 pm

    I would love a downloadable photo of the marmot. It is a great picture. Love your cuz

    Sent from my iPad


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