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Begins: Jul 9, 2010
Date: Sun, Aug 8th, 2010
Start: 4.5 miles from Durango, just past horrible water
Daily Distance: 5
Trip Distance: 517.0
Entry Visits: 696
Journal Visits: 14,595
Guestbook Views: 560
Guestbook Entrys: 2
Colorado Trail Map
To close out the trip it rained a solid 5 hours overnight, but never horribly hard. I slept poorly with a mix of a side slanted site and anticipation of my last day.
I was hiking by 6:15 and the easy 4.5 downhill miles went quick. A few early Sunday runners were on their way up and I hit the Southern Terminus of the Colorado Trail at 7:35. There was nothing more than an information sign. Of course it's not about the end, but something to signify the trail would be nice!
It was a 3.5 mile walk to town and it was pretty early to get a ride so I started to walk. Once my phone battery died I figured I could try to hitch and the first car to come by gave me a ride to town. Durango is rather large and spread out, but has a good free trolley that trolls back and forth main street. I walked to the north end of town where the non-name brand motels were and inquired at several until I found the right combination of price, room ready now and non-smoking. I found a good one, showered, did laundry and cleaned out my gear for the last time.
Colorado Trail Summary:
Overall I liked the trail, but my expectations were pretty high and it did disappoint in some respects. I figured this is the Rocky Mountains and the trail is only 500 miles so it should be 99% spectacular. This was probably unrealistic.
Primarily the first half of the trail and especially from Breckenridge to Salida were somewhat mundane. There is this cool statistic which says that the average elevation of the trail is above 10,000' which sounds amazing until you realize that treeline is 11,500' or higher. The trail was mostly below treeline and in the forest for the first half of the trail. The trail would do these massive climbs up, barely break treeline if at all, and then right back down. It was grueling and not that scenic. Forest is nice, but it was too much. I don't really know why they can't have a higher route. Plus this area was the most developed. Even when in Wilderness you could always see the valley with houses, etc. It was also surprisingly hot, but that was probably just timing.
The second half of the trail and especially from about 50 miles before Spring Creek Pass until 20 miles before the end was amazing. Top notch hiking that is some of the best in the country. In contrast to the above, this part of the trail was barely ever below treeline. It was incredible.
-The towns on the CT are awesome (if you don't mind paying for lodging). They are all tourist towns with great food, lodging and lots and lots of tourists. I enjoyed the towns more than any other trail.
-Because most hikers hike south/west bound I didn't really meet too many thru-hikers. Maybe 30 in total. Lots of first time thru-hikers.
-There were more Colorado natives thru-hiking than I would have expected. Many were resupplied by their family and friends along the way.
-There weren't many lakes which was surprising.
-Colorado is super civilized even way up high. It's pretty easy for a jeep to get anywhere which can be annoying at times. Past logging and especially mining is evidenced everywhere.
-The trail was much more physically demanding than I expected. I probably did 4,000' of elevation per day on average. That's a lot for every day and probably the highest average of any trail I've hiked. However, there is no rush so you can go as fast or slow as you want unlike longer trails.
- The trail was exceptionally well marked and maintained and I never was lost or off the trail.
-Cow shit is really f-ing annoying.
-Late July and August apparently is monsoon season. I did not know that beforehand, but certainly do now.
Overall I'm glad I hiked the Colorado Trail. It finished so awesome it makes you forget some of the more mundane miles.
The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile long-distance trail running from the mouth of Waterton Canyon southwest of Denver to Durango in Colorado, United States. Its highest point is 13,271-foot above sea level, and most of the trail is above 10,000-foot. Learn more: www.coloradotrail.org