September 7, 2015

This post is for those planning a hike on the Colorado Trail.  I don’t like to keep track of statistics for the sake of competitive comparisons with other hikers but I do think it is helpful for someone planning their own hike.  Everyone has a different goal when pursuing a long distance hike.  Our goal was to finish the hike and every part of the planning was to help our chances of making it all the way.  Lightweight but adequate gear and minimizing luxury items were a couple of the strategies we used to ensure a successful hike.  I also tried to add a few resupply stops to keep our packs light, especially in the north half of the trail.  Town stops are a double edge sword because it breaks up the trip into smaller segments but town stops can also suck the will to hike out of you, especially if the weather is not perfect.

My backpack base weight (less food, water, and fuel) was around 15 pounds until we switched shelters at Leadville.  Then my base weight was about 15 1/2 pounds.  Changing shelters lowered Holli’s pack weight from 13 to 12 pounds.  She may have added some weight back by including a set of “town clothes” in Breckenridge.  On the longer resupply sections I would carry all the food and give the lighter tent to Holli for a few days.  As we ate the food, I would then take the tent back to lighten her load.  I carried little more than 28 pounds and maybe 30 if the water bottles were filled.  I tried to carry a quart of water or less between water sources but a few days between Salida and Creede it was necessary to carry more.

We had planned two rest days or “zero days”.  Breckenridge was our first planned stop but we rested for two days due to a fever and headache I was fighting on our day off.  Creede was the other stop.  I considered pushing on without a rest in Creede but thunderstorms were passing over the mountains that day so we may not have covered many miles anyway.  I am not willing to risk hiking above tree line when lightning is a possibility.  I like to cover miles but sometimes you walk faster when you are not dead.  Some hikers continue in those conditions but there is no equipment or skill that can protect you.  If you are outside, you are vulnerable in an electrical storm.  Hiking above tree line makes you the tallest object.

Our total miles were 410 by trail.  We had a few extra miles walking to Twin Lakes, taking a wrong turn in segment 14, and walking off trail to get to Creede.  We were on the trail for 29 days and walked for 26 days.  It likely would have been 33 and 30 had we continued on to Durango.  Our average day was 15.8 miles or 14.1 miles if you include the three rest days.  Our longest day was about 23 miles but we did several days in a row near 20 miles per day.

Here is a daily log of our hike:

August 7 – 16.8 miles

August 8 – 11.5 miles

August 9 – 13.2 miles

August 10 – 16.6 miles

August 11 – 18.1 miles

August 12 – 15.2 miles

August 13 – 13.0 miles

August 14 – 12.8 miles

August 15 – Breckenridge

August 16 – Breckenridge

August 17 – 8 miles

August 18 – 17.4 miles (Leadville)

August 19 – 14.8 miles

August 20 – 19 miles (Twin Lakes)

August 21 – 21.4 miles

August 22 – 18.7 miles

August 23 – 13.7 miles (Mt. Princeton)

August 24 – 12.5 miles

August 25 – 10.4 miles (Salida)

August 26 – 14.3 miles

August 27 – 21.9 miles (plus 1/2 mile to Baldy Lake)

August 28 – 22.5 miles (plus 1/2 mile from Baldy Lake)

August 29 – 19.8 miles

August 30 – 11.4 miles (plus 1 mile to Forest Road 503)

August 31 – Creede

September 1 – 17.4 miles (plus 1 1/2 miles back to trail)

September 2 – 20.3 miles

September 3 – 19.2 miles

September 4 – 11.2 miles (Silverton)

September 5 – Silverton

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