The Colorado Trail is unlike anything we have ever done before and it adds in an extra layer of difficulty when your body is breaking down. The trail is nearly 500 miles long and goes from the outskirts of Denver to Durango. We’ve spent a lot of time in Colorado, but spending 40 days out in the backcountry and hitchhiking into the small Colorado mountain towns along the way is, in our opinion, the best way to experience the state.
We started the Colorado Trail on June 26th, 2022 going south and finished on August 4th. It was an experience we will never forget and one we want to share with you.
The trail is split into 28 segments, each of which are completely different. These were our experiences from segments eighteen through twenty-one of the Colorado Trail.
If you missed segments 1-18 of the Colorado Trail make sure to checkout our blogs below before continuing on!
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Dry Stretch: Segment 18
Once we got setup at the high school we quickly called it night upon getting swarmed by mosquitos. There was a nice spot behind a cinderblock wall where the schools dumpsters were which made for a nice secluded stealth spot.
When we woke up in the morning we packed up our stuff and made our way back to the gas station where Jim had dropped us off the day prior. We grabbed some coffees and hung out for a few moments while we game planned our day. The Post Office wasn’t going to be open until ten and the only breakfast spot in town wasn’t going to be open until eight.
As we sipped on our coffee we had a guy pull up in his truck. He started filling up on gas and then came over and asked if we were hiking the trail. His name was Ben, from Austin, Texas, and we had a nice time chatting with him as we discussed some of our favorite parts of the trail. He told us that he himself would be out on the trail in just a few days. You could tell by his eyes and his smile that he was just as free spirited as we are.
We love sharing our adventures with everyone at home! If you want to see our whole Colorado Trail experience from a cameras perspective we saved all of our experiences to our Instagram highlights.
He told us that he just a got a new backpack which he loved and I asked if I could try it on. I wasn’t a huge fan of my REI backpack and after trying out his Z-pack I REALLY wasn’t a huge fan of mine! It’s worth investing a little extra money in a better quality bag!
We said our goodbyes and before he left he handed us some money and told us to celebrate with a nice meal when we finished the trail! Thanks Ben! We definitely filled our bellies!
Caffeinated up and ready for a great day we made our way to the 4th Street Diner and Bakery. It looked like a cute little place from the outside and it was just as cute from the inside. The shop was small and cozy which gave it an authentic small town diner feel.
Because we are plant based we went with some hash browns and vegetables. My energy levels were still terrible and it felt so good to be able to get some vegetables in. After crushing our first order the waitress came back and asked if we wanted some more. “Absolutely,” we told her, and she brought back a second round with even more vegetables! We must have looked like we needed them!
We ran into a few other hikers who we would see a few more times, and wished them luck as they were group hiking the remaining segments 21-28 in the days to come!
The Post Office opened up at ten and we walked over to get our resupply boxes and our meals from Sails and Trails!
The Colorado Trail is an awesome trail for anyone looking to experience a thru-hike for the first time. Resupplying is a factor you will want to consider before beginning.…
It was around 10:30 when we got all packed up again and we started to make our way back towards the main road to try and catch a hitch back to the trailhead.
We waited for around half an hour before a friendly couple in their renovated cargo van stopped. They were from Durango and out on a weekend adventure with their dog and told us to hop on in! A huge thank you to Pete and Kenny!
Thirty something miles later we were back at the trailhead! It was getting into the afternoon now and we were expecting some storms soon. We filled up all of our waters and the Katadyn at the creek and made our way just five or six miles up the hill. We had to stock up on water because our next source wouldn’t be for another 19-ish miles.
We woke up the following morning and began to make our way toward segment nineteen. Both of our phones were dying so we weren’t able to get as many pictures and videos as we wanted.
About 5 miles into the day we ran into some ladies and chatted with them for a few moments. A couple of them were battling some previous injuries and said they were doing their best to manage the pain. We offered them some of our handy dandy Dual Action Advil and promised them it would at least take the edge off a bit. Seriously, if you’re going on any sort of adventure, grab some Dual Action Advil just in case. You won’t regret it!
The hiking was fairly flat and on a dirt road which was quite the treat. We meandered our way to the beginning of the next segment.
One Day at a Time: Segment 19
Upon getting to segment nineteen we stopped for a quick Munk Pack cookie snack break. My energy level was at an all time low and I wasn’t able to each much which wasn’t helping the matter. My body felt like it was breaking down slowly day by day.
We could tell that another afternoon storm was going to blow in so we did our best to cover as much ground as possible. We made it to the top of our climb just in the knick of time and set up our tent. Because of my energy, naps were starting to become a part of our everyday afternoon routine. I don’t think Grace minded the change in pace.
The nap somewhat revived me and after the lighting had passed we put on our rain gear and kept hiking. We couldn’t stop yet because we still hadn’t come to the next water source but we only had another three miles to go.
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Down the hill we could see our stopping point, Cochetopa Creek. We had read that there were moose in the area so we made sure to put Nemo on her leash and hiked about a mile down the creek until we found some flat ground.
To say I was wiped on energy would be an understatement. I was getting weaker and weaker and didn’t know why my body was breaking down. Was it just a stomach bug, or did I possibly get sick from bad water? I did my best to eat a couple of bites from my dehydrated meal and then we laid down for bed.
In the morning we woke up to a beautiful sunrise and got going before all of the other hikers in the area woke up. We had to cross a couple of streams which to Grace were freezing cold but to me felt revitalizing. I kept splashing the cold water in my face hoping it would make me feel better.
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Five miles later we had made it to another checkpoint, segment twenty. We used the bathroom and after checking a trail angel cooler (which was empty) we continued on. (Side note: if you are hiking and come across a trail angel spot, don’t leave your trash! It’s disrespectful and it’s not someone else’s job to take your trash :))
Hailing Down: Segment 20
From segment twenty to segment twenty-one there’s thirteen miles of hiking which will take you up towards another opportunity to climb a 14’er, San Luis. As you might expect, I did not have the energy to do so.
There’s plenty of water on this stretch which was nice for the fact that we didn’t have to carry a lot of water weight.
We made it about four miles into the segment before initiating nap time phase. At this point I was lucky if I could make it three miles before needing to sit down to regather myself. All I could think about was Lake City, our next resupply town, which was still another twenty miles away.
After an hour or so we looked to the North of us and could see a storm coming in. We gathered up our things and booked it. There was a ridge line coming up and if we could make it up and over we would be a good spot to stop. So we thought!
We made it another three miles and then the rain and hail started coming down on us… hard. There was no tree cover around and for whatever reason I did not put on my rain pants.
In our favorite crouched position we waited and prayed that the rain, hail and lighting would stop. Everything was soaked, and being that high up, it was getting cold. The hail kept coming down for about an hour and a half. It was miserable.
When it stopped we immediately set up our tent and stripped off our clothes before climbing into our sleeping bags. I’m so thankful for Grace because she was really the glue holding us together at this point.
About an hour later we came out of the tent and saw a group of three hikers chatting across the trail. They told us there was a huge nasty storm coming the next day and said they were considering hiking in the night to avoid it. From segment twenty-one (7 miles away) you can get to the town called Creede where they said they would try to make it to shelter from the storm.
We weighed our options and then hiked another mile to the base of the climb before the ridge where about ten other hikers were set up. Our Garmin InReach said there was still a good chance of lighting that night and the last thing we wanted to do was get caught in lighting and rain on an exposed bald in the middle of the night. We decided to start hiking around three am the next morning which would hopefully give us enough time to catch a ride into Creede before the storm blew through.
We did what we always do and quietly snuck out without waking any of the other hikers still sleeping. It was a short but steep mile to the top of the ridge and then from there it was a moderate up and down for the next four miles until we made it to segment twenty-one. We missed out on some amazing views but had to do what we had to do.
At this point we decided it was in our best interest to try and get into Creede. I felt like a broke down locomotive and continuing on would mean hiking exposed for another long haul. We hiked a couple of miles to get to the parking lot and that’s when we realized that this hitch was not going to be a super easy one. The road getting to the parking lot was designated for 4×4 vehicles and it was an early morning on a weekday.
We hiked down the road for another couple of miles and then sat down wondering if a hitch hike was even possible. After regrouping we walked another mile or so to a road junction and tested our luck.
About a half hour went by and then something amazing happened! Remember how we said we met some hikers in Saguache who were group hiking? Well their crew (Vans and trucks carrying their gear and camp setup) were headed into Creede! They offered to take us into town and we got to meet Ethan who was helping out with the group that summer! Big shoutout Ethan and the Colorado Mountain Expeditions!
We were so thankful we decided to go into Creede, but we’ll talk more about that and our next few segments next time! As always, if you liked this blog on hiking the Colorado Trail make sure to put your email in below! That way you won’t miss out on any of the adventures!
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