July 5, 2017 – When morning came, I made a mental note to never turn up my nose at a night on a camp cot. I’d slept great. I took one look at my swollen ankle and thought Yep, I’m bailing out and heading home to Denver. My parents called and they were on their way to pick me up in Bailey.
Packing Up and Hanging Out
It felt fun and easy to just relax and hang out with the guys that morning, exchanging stories and connecting on Facebook, promising to meet up again down the trail sometime. I loaded up my backpack for the last time and sat it in the corner, ready for the trip back to Denver.
Brunch With a Trail Buddy
How do you wrap up a thru-hike that you’ve planned for weeks, longed to do for years, and where things didn’t go as you expected? Over brunch and a tour of Bailey with your trail buddy, of course. Michael and I walked to the Cut Throat Cafe (in Crocs and flip flops, with no packs, which was liberating) and had a real, proper breakfast of hash browns, eggs, sausage, bacon, and cheese with a side of pancakes. And ate every bit of it. Then we wandered through some of the shops in Bailey before my folks picked me up. I told them all about how Michael had basically rescued me from the fire station and got me down the trail.
Colorado Trail Post-Hike Thoughts and Lessons Learned
Will I do things differently next time I backpack? Sure. Would I change how my Colorado Trail trek went? Hell no. I tried and I learned, made great friends, and hiked 40.7 miles in 4 days! I’ll take that as a win. Here’s what I know now:
- Going on one practice hike with less than your full backpack weight does not count as sufficient training for a thru-hike.
- Going lighter with your backpack is always better.
- When you start to attract flies and your trail buddy can’t tolerate walking behind you, it might be time to find a shower.
- Take care of hot spots on your feet right away. Otherwise, you’ll get a giant blister and risk getting dubbed Blister Toe as your trail name.
- The Colorado Trail Hiker app is the bomb. So is the Colorado Trail Databook.
- Start hiking early to avoid the heat and schizophrenic Colorado weather.
- Switching to new hiking shoes (like, from hiking boots to trail runners) right before a thru-hike is probably not a great idea.
- Hikers on the Colorado Trail are super nice and very helpful. It’s OK to ask for help.
- Expect the unexpected. You can plan the hell out of something, and you’ll still get surprised.
- Get out of your tent or stick your head out, whatever you have to do, to look at the night sky. Crawling out of your nest is so worth it, every time, no matter the temperature.
- Falling asleep to the night sounds of the mountains is good for the soul.
- Sometimes the last 2 miles of the day feel like 20.
- Trail angels come in all forms and sometimes drive white pickup trucks or have flaming red hair.
- Go all out for that bucket list item. It’ll be worth it!
See my Colorado Trail Planning Guide for complete details about planning your own trip!
What’s on your bucket list?