• Brandon A. Kelone

"What I learned on the Colorado Trail" (Advice for My Future Self or Others)



1) Trail towns are not necessarily your friend.

*They are sirens. They too easily become places of temptation and sloth. Do not give into the temptation. Get into town, resupply, and get back out. You came here to hike.

* The best way to treat a trail town is with a get-in-and-get-out attitude.

* You are better off going into town, getting your supplies, getting back to trail and hiking zero miles for the day than you are staying in a trail town.

*The hostels are too expensive (they add up fast). Stop pretending that this isn't the case.

* The food in trail towns is too expensive.

* Try not to use "zero days" more than once every 500 miles.

* “Nero Days” should be used any time you need to go to a town to resupply. Just get in, get out, and get on with your hike.

* Have a plan of attack for trail towns; don’t just go in aimlessly. Have an idea of where you’ll charge electronics, where you'll buy (or pick up) food, where you can get a shower, and those kinds of things before getting into town.

* Eat fruit!!!!! Eat salads!!!!!! Good food tastes amazing and will make you feel good. Fifteen McDonalds cheeseburgers will lead you to feel like death once you're back on the trail.Feel free to "over indulge" on fruits and vegetables, but be cognizant of the junk-food that you're feeding yourself in trail towns.


2) Bring 2 avocados and 2 oranges with you out of trail towns whenever possible. *Fresh food on trail is better than any dehydrated, preservative-filled alternative that you'll get from traditional tail food.


3) Try drinking tea as an alternative to coffee in the mornings.

*Although there's nothing wrong with coffee, the benefits of tea are worth trying to break that daily double-espresso habit in favor of a bag of black English Breakfast tea.


4) Bring a bottle of honey.

*Honey is good, fast energy (like a "Gu Shot," but natural, available in trail towns, and less expensive than energy shot products from sports companies).


5) Other trail super foods:

* Avocados

* Hemp seeds

* Hemp seed meal (high in protein and fiber).

* Coconut oil (single serving packs only!)

* Mixed nuts (even better if it's the kind with no peanuts)

* Dried fruit


6) Use electrolyte drink mix

*Nuun seems to be the best, based on my own analysis


7) Try to sleep 8 hours each night!


8) Keep a trail journal

*And try to write in it every night!

*Having a trail journal to look back on is worth the effort of having written it.


9) Try to do 25 pushups whenever you set down your bag. Try to keep your upper body strength from falling apart during the trail.


10) Drink vitamin C mix, and “green mix” for nutritional health


11) Bathe in rivers and lakes!

*The feeling of being relatively clean on trail is worth the time and effort it takes to drop back and take a dive.


12) Clean your clothes whenever it's possible. Being clean on trail makes a world of difference!


13) Brush and floss your teeth!

*You don't want dental work to be one of the factors in the cost of your thru hike.


14) Beef jerky is not the answer!

* Meat bars like “Epic” are very good on trail (but expensive)

* Plant protein is very good on trail (unflavored!)

* But mark my words--you'll get tired of beef jerky pretty damn fast on a thru hike.


15) Pack hand wipes for your face (one per night)


16) Carry at least 3 pairs of socks.


17) Have 2 pair of shorts

*And make sure you're comfortable in them


18) Useless items (leave them at home)

* Hammock

* Bag liner (just wash your sleeping bag)

* Long underwear (at least on the Colorado Trail they were useless)

* Sun sleeves

* Books/literature


19) Practice making dinners on your cook system before the trail

* Don’t rely on Mountain House Meals; Make your own rice and pasta. Macaroni is king!

* Consider carrying an extra cook cup.


20) Carry a “Hiker to Trail” / “Hiker to Town” sign.


21) Trail shoes generally last 500 miles (not more than 550)

*Order them to be shipped ahead accordingly.


22) Hiking poles don’t need straps; they’re nice without them

*I'd like to thank the rodents that ate the straps off my poles and taught me this lesson.

23) Best trail bars:

*Laura Bar; Cherry pie flavor. *ProBar; Any of their meal bars.

*Epic Bars; Bison, pork, venisine


24) Have some chocolate for every night

*Not a lot, but enough to satisfy the need for desert.

*Bonus (Justin Hazelnut butter with chocolate)


25) Carry one essential oil vial.


26) Carry soap (Dr. Broners seems to be the best).


27) Have dental floss

28) Have super glue.


29) Bring sunglasses.


30) Test your water filter before the trail.

*Bring iodine or Aguamira drops for dry desert sections (double protection)


31) Train heavily before your hike.

*Carry the exact gear setup that you’ll have on trail during your training hikes.

32) Have more battery bank capacity than you’ll need.

*Map out where you will charge your battery banks in the trail towns.

*Don’t listen to music on long trails if you can avoid it. Be present in the experience.


33) Do not eat in your tent (Don’t let the habit form!)

* Eat before you get to camp. Let your tent be for writing and sleeping. Nothing more!

* You can drink tea in your tent.

* Being one peanut butter packet to camp as desert (nothing more)

* Build the habit for when you get to bear country.

* Keeps your tent cleaner.

* Helps you break camp more quickly.

34) Leave as little to chance as possible.

* Where will I buy my food in a trail town?

⁃ And what will be there?

* Where will I charge my electronics?

* Where will there be a post office?

* Where will I stay (and when will I stay) in trail towns?

⁃ How much does it cost?


35) Commit to how long you’ll spend in a trail town before you arrive there.

* A day?

* An hour?

* Just resupply?

* What do I need to buy?

* What and how much will I eat in this trail town?


36) DO NOT plan on eating a rehydrated (Mountain House) meal every day.

* Too luxurious.

* WAY too expensive.

* Figure out what meals you can cook on the trail before leaving.

* Experiment with other rehydration methods before hitting the trail.

* Consider “cold cooking” noodles and then heating them at night.

* Try out trail recipes at home before hitting the trail.


37) Don't forget to stop and smell the flowers.

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