This year I am embarking on a new long distance venture that will take me into high altitude for multiple days and away from the typical eastern US hiking trips I have enjoyed in the past.
My plan is to hike the 486 mile Colorado Trail (CT) that extends from Denver to Durango in the beautiful and wild Rocky Mountains.
Most hikers plan their trip to leave from Waterton Canyon south of Denver and hike southbound, arriving some four to five weeks later at Durango. Typically the main season begins sometime in July and ends in August. For me, since I am starting later in the season and because of possible snow in September at the higher elevations close to Durango, I am hiking northbound to Denver. This necessitates me to do more planning, such as acclimating, watching pack weight for long stretches of resupply in areas, and planning for shorter days at the onset to help me adapt to the high altitude and the stretches of tough climbing.
My planning for this trip began several months ago by joining a Colorado Thru Hiker Facebook Group. This place on social media has been an invaluable tool for the beginning steps needed to do the trail. Much information is shared—from resupply options, to acclimating (of which there is a special Facebook group specifically for that), gear, travel options, and yes, I have even met great trail angels willing to help me out on the trail. The Colorado Trail Foundation will also email on request a list of shuttlers willing to transport you to towns or trailheads.
|A Map App helps with navigation|
Once the plans are made, important trail resources are needed. I downloaded the trail app from Atlas Guides (formerly Guthook). I am quite familiar with the map app on my phone, having used it successfully on the Florida Trail. Hikers have also left notes on the app for water resources and waypoints, which allows me to check on water availability late in the season. I also purchased the Colorado Trail Foundation’s data book for the trail. Both resources have proved invaluable for planning purposes. A Trail Foundation can be a wealth of information as to trail conditions – be sure to see if they have a social media group online as well, along with guidebooks and print maps. I have even called the foundation office to ask questions.
|Mail Drop Prep|
I then spent time gathering gear and also food and supplies for some mail drops. While the scene to the left looks a mess, maildrops give me the option to eat the foods I want while not spending valuable time trying to figure out options at a grocery store. The End to End Colorado Trail guide assists in this kind of planning.
All these resources together, coupled with information shared from other hikers’ experiences, helps one plan the best they can for a journey into the wilds of the Rockies.
(Note – the above information can be used toward any long distance hiking trail as far as planning such as the use of social media outlets, trail foundations, guidebooks and maps)
Summary of Resources: