Updates from the Colorado Trail — Email 2

Hi all,

It’s really, really great being back on a trail!  I hear I’m missing some fire misery in California. I’m sending big virtual hugs to all y’all, and hope your air quality improves soon!!


  • Trail life is at its finest when you get some quality type 2 experiences
  • I’ve gained a few days on my schedule… 
  • If you’re looking for a great, short-long hike, I *strongly* recommend the “collegiate peaks loop”
  • Over 50% done.

Longer updates

I casually started chatting with a pair of guys (Philly and Grant) the other day, and we seemed to have pretty similar hiking styles, which means I’ve been hiking with them for the past three days.  Both have many thousands of miles of long trails beneath their legs (AT, PCT, CDT + others), and are vegans (of course!).  Grant is in the “cottage industry” of making ultralight backpacks out of highly technical fibers.  He started the company “Nashville Pack” with a friend, which is doing quite well!

They’ve been pretty fun to chat with, and per usual trail life, I anticipated I wasn’t going to see them for more than the 1st day, as they were pushing 30 mile days, while I was hanging out in 20-24ish territory. We’ll see if I run into them again as I get closer to Durango.

For most of my trail planning, I’ve been using my 2013 version of the “Colorado Trail Databook.” It turns out that the trail has changed quite a bit since 2013!  

Yesterday, while I thought I was gonna have a super chill 25-mile day, get into camp at 10,500 feet at 5:30pm, and listen to some Harry Potter audiobooks, the trail had different plans.  Turns out the Colorado Trail and Continental Divide Trail are still being altered substantially in the “collegiate west section.” This largely means changing trail signage to redirect hikers onto mountain passes and newly-built single-track trail rather than using dirt and gravel Jeep trails. For this section of the trail, it displaces boring valleys with stunning views and 12,500 ft passes to climb. So when 5:30 pm rolled around, I was climbing a section of trail in a thunderstorm with no water for 12 miles, and at least 8 miles before treeline.  As we got over one pass, 5 more passes lay in front of us with exposed ridge walking that stayed above 12,000 feet (Colorado treeline is usually around 11,800 ft). The wind picked up, and I found myself cowering in a rock ditch, adding layers and inhaling  whatever easily accessible carbs I could quickly find in my pack to stay warm. A few hours in, and 8 miles later, me and my trail buddies found some somewhat flat surfaces with some clumps of shrubs and a few small evergreens to curl up next to. Sleep was glorious, and a sunny day of walking quickly turned to experience into classically memorable trail fun.

I walked into Monarch Mountain Lodge this evening, 1.5 days ahead of schedule, grabbed my resupply box and a room for the night, and am off for continued adventure in the morning.  I’m about to enter the San Juans, one of the prettiest mountain ranges in the world!

Meanwhile, I’m trying to figure out schedules and possible areas of likely cellphone coverage, as apparently Planet Money wants to chat with me!!! (I hope I can connect!!)

With love and adventure,


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