Eight rice and bean dinners, with dried kale, red peppers, onion and cheese powder from a box of Annie’s mac & cheese. Eight scrambled egg dinners, with dried green chile and salsa bark and more cheese powder. Three dehydrated green chile stew dinners. Twenty-eight one-cup bags of quick-cook steel-cut oatmeal, with milk powder, cinnamon and dried fruit. Four bags each of dried banana circles, apple slices, and sweet potato leather.
No, I’m not being prudent and stocking up in advance of the Big One that experts predict has a 33% chance of obliterating Vancouver in the next 50 years.
The line at the Blaine border crossing wasn’t as bad as I had expected for a Friday evening.
“Any egg products?” the border agent asks.
Good thing my scrambled egg and polenta concoction turned out to be inedible. I don’t have to lie!
We stop by Costco in Bellingham for nuts, Kind bars, jerky, dried fruit. Our lovely friends in Seattle have turned their dining room into a staging area for us: drop cloths on the floor, boxes from Amazon, campsaver, REI piled up on one of them. It feels like Christmas! I get a red puffy hoodie and a new pair of Altras, Marc gets a Marmot rain shell. There are socks, sun sleeves, freeze-dried scrambled eggs. Continue reading →
We’re at the trailhead by 7:00 for the obligatory starting photo.
The first six miles are on a smooth dirt road, a good warmup. We’re lucky, the weather is cool; but even so, where the singletrack trail begins I hear a buzzing sound from underneath a bush. A rattlesnake! Continue reading →
The only coffee shop open in Breckenridge at 6:30 doesn’t serve lattes, so I console myself with a donut. I’ve forsaken coffee on this trip because I like a lot of milk in my coffee and the powdered variety just isn’t right. Tea bags are much lighter, anyway.
We take the shuttle back up to the trailhead and start climbing right away. Up, up, up. I’m feeling great! I power on up on donut-fueled legs. We slog 3,600 feet up, topping out at 12,500′. We pass a couple of college boys having lunch at the pass, but the clouds are looking a bit iffy and we still have a few miles to go above treeline before our descent into the Copper Mountain ski resort, so we keep going. Continue reading →
Rick picks us up in the morning as promised, and drives us to the Willis Gulch trailhead just off the road heading up to Independence Pass. We climb about 3 miles up to meet the CT at a junction at mile 4.3. Like I said, we weren’t about to hike on flatland all the way around the Twin Lakes reservoir just to get to mile 0.0 of the Collegiate West. Continue reading →
This morning we pass the hiker we saw last night, a lovely young guy thru-hiking, taking his time, traveling solo. It’s always a pleasure to chat with other hikers on this trail and hear their stories. There aren’t that many people out here. The trail from the shelter cabin to Marshall Pass is a dream — gentle grade, lovely open views, clear skies.
In fact, I am starting to feel like that this hike is being blessed. Our weather, our bodies, our spirits —everything has been so much better than I expected. While I walk I often think of my dad, who died six years ago. He’s the person who instilled this love of the wilderness in me. Everything I know about backpacking I owe to him and the family adventures he masterminded. I know he would have been so psyched about this adventure. He would have joined us for a leg or two, or at the very least insisted we carry a Spot tracker so he could follow us online. It seems entirely reasonable to me that he’s still participating somehow — parting the clouds, holding off the lightning, easing our sore muscles as we sleep at night … Continue reading →
I am putting in three miles for today, even though it’s officially a “zero” day, because getting around Lake City involves quite a bit of walking. We stop by the Raven’s Rest hostel and drop off un-needed food from our resupply box. (BTW, the undies made it, thanks Rick!) Marc introduces me to his newest friends, a couple from Alabama who run the outfitter shop; they arrange a shuttle back up to the pass for us. The free shuttle doesn’t head up to the pass until noon, and we’re willing to pay $40 to get up there early in the morning. Continue reading →
There’s something I forgot to mention in the last post. Guess who I ran into in the parking lot of the Prospector in Silverton yesterday, right before Rob rode up? Tortuga, the solo hiker who camped above us at Pine Creek and then again along Moose creek! I’d been feeilng bad, because I only belatedly realized he must have been low on food if he needed to hitch down from Stony Pass to Silverton. He mentioned he was depleted, and I had thought he meant he was tired. That is, until the next day, when my brain was functioning properly again.
We should have shared our dinner with you, I say. In fact, our dinner that night had been more than we could eat. Dehydrated quinoa has a way of sucking up copious quantities of water and expanding into a gargantuan mass. A mass so enormous that even Marc cannot pack it all away. (I know! Impossible!)
It’s okay, he says. I should be better at asking for help.
It’s worth mentioning, I think, because we would have loved it if he had asked. Next time I’ll try to pay closer attention. If in doubt, ask other hikers if they’re okay on food. It’s lonely and long out there if you’re on your own. Continue reading →
As promised, here’s our gear list. I’ll do my best to include weights now that I’ve put a new battery in my kitchen scale. (I’ve used grams, since they’re easier to add up — here’s a converter if you need it).
Bear in mind the well-known gear maxim: Losing pounds is cheap; losing ounces is expensive. This trip was a celebration of my 50th birthday and our 25th wedding anniversary. What better way of showing your love for each other than buying outrageously expensive gear? That said, we got a lot of stuff on sale at Campsaver. Some of it we had already. Also bear in mind that we’re not hard core UL backpackers. If you want that, just type “UL backpacking gear” into Google and make sure to increase the limit on your Visa card. Continue reading →
It has been months since we finished our thru-hike of the Colorado Trail. I wrote the blow-by-blow here on the blog; you might even have read it. What I have been less able to articulate is how the hike has affected me now that I’m back home again.
I still think about it every single day. I didn’t think this would happen to me. If I’m completely honest, I didn’t even really believe I could complete the hike, so I never thought about what would happen when it was over. Continue reading →