Colorado Trail 2013

colorado_trail_logo-smallThe Colorado Trail is a 484.6 mile trail which winds its way through Colorado’s most mountainous and beautiful regions between Denver and Durango. The trail rises and falls dramatically with a total elevation change of 89,103 feet up and 87,645 feet down while having an average elevation of over 10,300 feet. Over its 28 segments, the trail crosses 6 national forests, 6 wilderness areas, and 8 mountain ranges. For 235 miles, The Colorado Trail runs concurrent with the Continental Divide Trail. View The Colorado Trail’s path.

I thru hiked The Colorado Trail from August 5 to September 12, 2013. It took me a total of 39 days to complete the trail with 34 days of hiking. I averaged 14.25 miles per day on the days I hiked. The most miles I hiked in a single day was 20.3 miles.

The Colorado Trail was my first long distance hike and it was an amazing, yet very difficult experience for me. It was extremely rewarding with many moments of enjoyment and awe, but it was also the most difficult, hard-fought challenge that I’ve had yet in my life. Don’t get me wrong, it was absolutely worth it. I would do it all over again and might actually hike it again someday. I would even go as far as to say that it was a life changing experience for me. And the views! There really are no words for the breathtaking views when standing at 13,000+ feet and 50+ miles from the nearest sign of civilization in the San Juan Mountains. And, thankfully, I went into the hike knowing how difficult it would be so I was somewhat mentally prepared. I was bound and determined to complete the trail regardless of the difficulty. On the inside of the lid on my pack, where I would see it every time I opened my pack, I wrote: “Failure Is Not An Option”.

Below you will find the complete journal that I wrote while on the trail. Each night while laying in my tent I wrote a journal entry for the day on my phone. I originally had no intention of sharing the journal with anyone so beware that there is plenty of complaining, cursing, and bad grammar. I have read through it a few times and I tried to make it more readable in places, but it is largely unedited. For the first ten days or so the journal entries are fairly short but they get longer towards the end. I’ve also included some pictures that I took on each day.

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Starting the Colorado Trail. Denver, CO. August 5, 2013.

Day 1 – Aug. 5 – 11.5 miles
Day 2 – Aug. 6 – 24.1 miles
Day 3 – Aug. 7 – 40.2 miles
Day 4 – Aug. 8 – 49.4 miles
Day 5 – Aug. 9 – 64.5 miles
Day 6 – Aug. 10 – 71.7 miles
Day 7 – Aug. 11 – Fairplay
Day 8 – Aug. 12 – 79.7 miles
Day 9 – Aug. 13 – 92.8 miles
Day 10 – Aug. 14 – 104.4 miles
Day 11 – Aug. 15 – 116.8 miles
Day 12 – Aug. 16 – 131.2 miles
Day 13 – Aug. 17 – 142.6 miles
Day 14 – Aug. 18 – 158 miles
Day 15 – Aug. 19 – 175.2 miles
Day 16 – Aug. 20 – Twin Lakes
Day 17 – Aug. 21 – 192.2 miles
Day 18 – Aug. 22 – 206.2 miles
Day 19 – Aug. 23 – 220.3 miles
Day 20 – Aug. 24 – 236.6 miles
Day 21 – Aug. 25 – 252.5 miles
Day 22 – Aug. 26 – Salida
Day 23 – Aug. 27 – 262.5 miles
Day 24 – Aug. 28 – 278.4 miles
Day 25 – Aug. 29 – 295 miles
Day 26 – Aug. 30 – 312.7 miles
Day 27 – Aug. 31 – 330 miles
Day 28 – Sept. 1 – 345.4 miles
Day 29 – Sept. 2 – 357.4 miles
Day 30 – Sept. 3 – Lake City
Day 31 – Sept. 4 – 366.1 miles
Day 32 – Sept. 5 – 381.5 miles
Day 33 – Sept. 6 – 399 miles
Day 34 – Sept. 7 – 410.7 miles
Day 35 – Sept. 8 – Silverton
Day 36 – Sept. 9 – 428.9 miles
Day 37 – Sept. 10 – 449.2 miles
Day 38 – Sept. 11 – 466.1 miles
Day 39 – Sept. 12 – 484.6 miles

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At the end of the Colorado Trail! Durango, CO. September 12, 2013.


The Colorado Trail KMZ

In preparation for my thru hike, I customized the KML file for The Colorado Trail which is available from the Colorado Trail Foundation. The most significant change I made was to add a marker for the start of each segment, assuming a southbound hike.

You can view the KMZ file in your browser or download it and load it into Google Earth or many other mapping applications. For my hike, I loaded this KMZ into AlpineQuest on my phone which allowed me to view my progress and stay on track as I hiked.

Get The Colorado Trail KMZ