Before I began the Colorado Trail, I had registered for the Revel Rockies Marathon. I would have to take a couple days from the trail to do the run, but I was excited for challenge. It was the last chance I’d have this year to run a Boston qualifier and I felt that I was in peak condition after training for the Morgan Valley Marathon, which I ran three weeks earlier, and backpacking for the previous week.
After meeting me at Wheeler Flats, near Copper Mountain at the end of my first week on the CT, my folks and I stayed in their RV at a nearby campground which was close to the location of the race. I enjoyed a rest day and the anticipation of another long run.
The route began at 10,000 feet and ended 26.2 miles later where the canyon opened up near Morrison, at Bandimere Speedway. It was beautiful, following a winding, forested, two-lane road, through tiny mountain towns and neighborhoods as the sun rose over the eastern horizon. I struggled in the final few miles, as the elevation dropped and the heat intensified. The final mile, which funneled runners across a busy intersection and onto a gravel parking lot, was not the most inspiring end to a long race, but at least it was over. Although I ran 18 minutes faster than the last marathon, I still couldn’t break the 4-hour mark (4:04:09) and missed my chance at qualifying for 2015. As in my other races, my parents and Chris were at the halfway point and at the finish to cheer me on. Knowing they would be there was such a boost and gave me something to look forward to when my energy began to drop.
The run was painful, but I felt pretty good considering the physical demands I had put on myself in the last two months. After training for a half marathon and two full marathons and backpacking 118 miles of mountainous terrain in one week, my endurance was at its peak. Still, after returning to the RV post-race, I kept myself curled up in a fatiguied ball for hours, not able to find an ounce of leftover energy to shower. My mom kept bringing me snacks and rubbing my poor feet and legs, working the lactic acid out of my system. Eventually, I was able to get cleaned up and begin a bit of recovery. The thought of putting my pack on the next day was not appealing.
But I did it, and in slow, tenuous steps I resumed my hike.
First night back on the CT. Six miles beyond Copper Mountain.
Below Searle Pass. Janet’s Cabin is part of the 10th Mtn Division Hut System. For more info check out huts.org.
I hiked through those mountains on the horizon. Searle Pass.
Barracks at Camp Hale.
This was a training area for the 10th Mtn Division soldiers during WW II. They trained in climbing, skiing and high altitude survival. Some of the veterans went on to establish some of the major ski resorts in Colorado after the war.
Just a swing on the trail.
The magic was gone when I got here, but I loved the intention!
Side trail to the highest peak in Colorado, Mt. Elbert (14,440 ft.). Several of the 14ers can be accessed via the CT.
Coming into Twin Lakes. CO.
Hiker hangout at the Twin Lakes store.
It was a long, uphill, seven-mile slog in the rain and fog.
Beautiful chaos. Lightning strike area, most likely.
Buena Vista valley.
One of the many streams the CT crosses.
After reaching Highway 50, my trip for this season had come to an end. I hitched a ride into Salida and stayed at a hostel in town for two nights.
I ended my trip after 253 miles and a final 27-mile day.
I slowly made my way home by a series of buses. I was in deep need of rest and had two weeks to recuperate and prep for my return to Japan. It was a good time to leave the trail for this season.
During this hike, I saw people every day. There were other hikers – day hikers and thru-hikers. There were mountain bikers, and I shared the trail with riders from two different races. I usually camped alone and I was never afraid. I love the trail. I love the woods. I am at home there and know how to thrive. To walk in the wilderness is one of my greatest pleasures. I love the feel of the pack on my back and watching the sun cross the sky as I move through the day.
For now, I’ve put my backpacking gear away. I’m in another wonderful place, but as far from the deep woods as one can get, that is, Tokyo, the most populated city in the world (37,126,000). These dramatic changes in surroundings are not hard for me. I transition easily from one to the other, appreciating each for the curiosity and wonder they inspire.
I’ll continue to post about life in Japan for the remaining two and a half months that I’m here. And then… anything is possible!