• Brandon A. Kelone

The Colorado Trail: Day 10

So I have now officially made it through the notoriously “worst” section of trail, and can I tell you something? I actually kind of enjoyed it. For ten days now the SOBO hikers have all been warning me about sections 17 and 18, and as of my writing this entry, those miles are behind me. I hate to say however that I’ve sort of become a rude hiker. I don’t really like talking with the other hikers anymore, because mostly they just want to “warn” me about what is up ahead. I don’t like warnings. Warnings cause me to question my own judgment, and I have a lot of miles behind me to give me confidence in my judgement. A few days back a guy “warned” me about not having enough water when I was three miles away from going into town. Yesterday a guy said that he wanted to “warn” me about water, and before he could even finish I told him that I’ve seen 65 miles without water in the desert... I don’t like being rude, but I really hate these warnings. Today two hikers said, “just a heads up about water...” and before they could finish, I interrupted and said that, “I think I’ll be good” and continued on my way. Then later in the day two other hikers who were sitting under a tree warned me that “this is the last shady spot for at least two miles.” I had been friendly to them up to then, and then I just walked by and said “not too worried about it.” That’s actually not even all of it, but I’ll leave it there. To be brief, I guess that I just want to hike my own hike. 

There is a part of me that misses the social element of hiking a long trail like what I found on the PCT, but to be honest, I far more love the social isolation that I have found out here as a NOBO hiker of the Colorado Trail! I think that it also helps that I have made the conscious choice to take the headphones out of my ears. I’ve become so much more present in the experience than I was when I used to listen to music while hiking. I met a hiker in my last trail town (Lake City) and when I told him that I’ve stopped listening to music he “warned” me that I might change my mind about that on this stretch and that it’s all just miserable Jeep roads and cow country. I took his warning with a grain of salt, and now that those miles are behind me, I can't see myself listening to music through the rest of my journey. I listen to podcasts when I’m setting up camp and eating breakfast, but otherwise, I just listen to the sounds of the trail and I quite like it that way. 

As for the trail itself today, there isn’t a whole lot to say. I loved it, but it wasn’t too eventful. It was mostly... like I said... Jeep roads and cow country. Not a lot of elevation change between my start and end of the day, temperatures were a bit hotter than normal, there wasn’t much water to be found, but now that those miles are behind me (and really I did enjoy them for the most part), I can say that it was a pretty good day overall. I was getting a bit dirty and sweaty and thirsty at the end of the dry stretch (23 miles between water sources as I counted it), so I fulfilled a promise that I made to myself early in the day when I finally did find water at Pine Creek, and I not only cooked a nice big dinner, but I also cleaned my clothes and bathed (not in the creek itself, but using the creek water and my “sink” that I carry around with me. The water was a bit cold as the day was coming to an end, but OH MY GOD did I feel good after that. I felt clean, my clothes were clean, I was rehydrated, and I had a nice warm meal in my belly. It was like being in heaven. These simple things have a lot to do with why I love thru hiking so much. Back home I never could have enjoyed laying in the dirt and eating rehydrated food, but out here it’s the feeling of bliss. 

I set up camp tonight after hiking 26.2 miles, my longest day of the trail so far, but considering how few challenges there were in the terrain, I expected that I’d break 25. There is a very small creek flowing beside my tent, so I have lots of water for breakfast and tea tomorrow, and I think that I’m just under 50 miles away from my hitch into Salida, Colorado where I’ll spend at least a day with rest and resupply. I have been trying really hard to watch my food supply, because I probably should have brought a bit more, but by eating a bit less today and tomorrow than I normally would like to, I figure that the final day before my resupply will be nice. I’ve screwed myself over in these situations in the past where that last day is nothing but extreme hunger. I don’t want for that to happen again on the CT. I must say though that I’m really looking forward to Salida. It looks to be by far the biggest trail town that I’ve seen since Durango, and now that I’ve been out here for awhile, I know the kinds of foods that I want for luxury while I’m in town (not pizza), and I know the kinds of foods that I want to bring with me on this next stretch of trail, and I suspect that Salida should be big enough to provide me with exactly what I’m looking for. 

That'll be it for now.

Until tomorrow, Wormwood out!

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