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Mark "SlowBro" Hurd
Begins: Jul 1, 2016
Date: Mon, Aug 15th, 2016
Trip Distance: 481.6
Entry Visits: 751
Journal Visits: 54,319
Guestbook Views: 627
Guestbook Entrys: 11
The journey is over and all of the separate parts are held together by the slender thread that was my thru-hike. Like a string of random beads, each segment has a quality that is unique, yet together they form the whole adventure.
Waterton Canyon out of Denver with Twister was a road walk, people, bikes, big horn sheep, a bear, a climb, lightning, rain, and stealth camping near the Platte. The next day was a soggy walk through a burn, gun fire, and the Fire Station. And so it went. Each day different and yet the same -meeting new people, seeing new sights, and embracing the challenges of the trail.
A thru-hike is a job. If you want to finish you have to take it seriously, but not too seriously. I had to get up and hike every day for 8 to 9 hours. I had to pay attention to the weather. I had to pay attention to my feet. I had to pay attention to my calorie intake. Every evening I would review the trail ahead for elevation gain, exposure, and water sources. The terrain dictated the speed and on many days the vegetation dictated where I could camp. Timing was important to avoid lightning, for hitching, and even for finding a campsite.
And through it all I found incredible views and the wild flowers were, as another hiker, Thomas, put it, "practically a religious experience." I saw lakes, waterfalls, sunrises, sunsets, vast meadows, and verdant forests that would take your breath away. Snow capped mountains and deep valleys, bear, moose, and deer, steam trains, and magnificent awe inspiring storms. And, as I have mentioned previously, all the people that populated this experience. It was all there.
Yet with all the wonderful aspects there were also serious problems with the Colorado Trail. The mix of motorized vehicles with foot, bike, and horse traffic on single track trails is misguided. I have no trouble with this on jeep roads, but motorcycles on foot trails is unsafe and degrades the tread at at an accelerated rate.
The countless acres of beetle killed dead forests was astounding, depressing, and dangerous. Hundreds of thousands of standing dead trees waiting to fall or become a conflagration is a serious concern for hikers. And the tree death by beetle will not be diminishing any time soon. Already I could spot the dead and dying trees among the healthy in "unaffected" forests. It won't be long, maybe 3-4 years, and they will be ghost forests, too.
Still, with all its faults, it is a worthy trail. There is adventure to be had, obstacles to be overcome, people to meet, and personal growth to be earned over nearly 500 miles of trail in the high country of Colorado. If you are considering the trek, it won't be easy, nor will it be comfortable. And it definitely won't always be pretty, but it will challenge you and it will change you. I'm glad I did it. So thanks to all of you for following along and Happy Trails!
SlowBro's Colorado Trail Journey
"I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days." -Daniel Boone
"The Journey IS The Reward" -SlowBro
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