Colorado Trail Part 3
LightHeart Gear owner Judy Gross is currently thruhiking the Colorado Trail, sleeping in her LightHeart tents and seeing some fantastic views! Here's the third part of her personal account of life on the trail:
Monday, August 22nd, 2016:
Dirt bike hell. The intent was to hike 7 days from Monarch Pass to Lake City. We got about half way and hitched back to Salida to re-assess. First, Krewzer (one of the 2 hikers I'm with) found out he is needed back home and had to get off the trail. He turned around to hike the 26 miles back to Monarch Pass where he planned to hitch back to Salida and take a bus to Denver. When Sparky (the other of the 2 hikers I’m with) and I got to highway 114 (20 miles south) we also decided to hitch back to Salida and got here before Krewzer did. The reason we came back to town is basically fatigue. It has been so blazing hot out, we are just having a really hard time hiking. Water in this section is 12 to 14 miles apart, so you have to carry a lot (which of course is very heavy). My appetite is almost nonexistent, so I'm trying to force myself to eat and not doing a great job of it which I'm sure also contributes to my trouble hiking. I've never felt so lack luster on a hike before! The outline of a plan we have developed is to rent a car and slack pack most of the rest of the trail, but as I lost my driver’s licenses when I got to Denver, this is going to be trouble. I'm getting a new license sent to me in Lake City, but that won't get here till later this week, so it looks like we will have to hike on to Lake City for another 3 1/2 days. Our packs have been reassessed and paired down a little. I'm now at 24 lbs with food and 1/2 of the water to get us to Lake City. A good portion of this section is fairly easy, but the last 15 miles or so is not!
Another major reason for our decision is like the title says, ‘Dirt Bike Hell’. The trail for the past 50 miles is all dirt bike roads. They are not fit for hikers to walk on. People in Colorado always say how they love their "multi use trails", but I highly doubt a single one of them have ever WALKED on them! The mountain bikes, dirt bikes and horseback riders must love those trails, but for hikers they are eroded, washed out, full of ball buster/head buster/ankle buster rocks that go straight downhill. It really is a most nasty piece of work. I know from having talked to people in the Colorado Trail Foundation that moving the trail off the roads are their highest priority, and what they've done with the Collegiate West is wonderful. I also know there is a lot of politics involved in this stuff, but seriously, hikers should not be on dirt bike trails. I will never ever hike on a 'multi use 'trail again and I don’t believe they should permit foot traffic on these roads.
Aside from that, the trail has been rather blah these last 50 miles. The only spectacular views were from Sargent Mesa. When climbing the field to the trail head there the view from behind is spectacular. The trail actually took us right to the summit of 2 small mountains along the way. This is unusual as most of the time you bypass the summit. Our last night on the trail treated us to a 2.5 hour thunder and lightning storm that dropped a lot of hail and rain. Sparky managed to collect 2ℓ of rain water off his tent! I've seen a lot of ptarmigan and deer, but no other wild life lately.
Our hitch back to Salida was not too difficult. We were picked up first by a local young lady who had to drive by us and turn around to come back as she said she was going too fast to pull on and stop! Then we caught a second ride by hikers on the CT. ‘Kickapoo’ and her husband are from Fort Collins and were just biking a couple of sections. They had to go home last night and will be back on the trail in a few days. But, it turned out Kickapoo is camping with a LightHeart Solo tent! At the hostel, there are also a couple of ladies bikepacking the Great Divide Trail, and when they overheard me talking to another hiker about LightHeart Gear they mentioned that they had checked out the website numerous times as it kept coming up in their search for bikepacking tents! M&M and Pootz are also here. Sparky and I are trying to get a ride back to the trail this afternoon.
To be continued .....