The idea of hiking 486 miles from Denver to Durango seems a bit daunting, much like the life changing journey taken by participants in Love INC’s IMPACT program. At the beginning of their journey (or the beginning of my hike of the Colorado Trail), the path forward can seem insurmountable. Taking that first step can be one of the most difficult. But they do take that step, and keep putting one foot in front of the other. Soon, they can look up and see that some good progress has been made toward transforming their lives.
My brother, Glenn, and I recently hiked segments 2 & 3 of the Colorado Trail. It was a total of 24 miles that we hiked over 2 days, spending one night camping. Like the IMPACT participants, we kept putting one foot in front of the other and were able to complete the hike, bringing our total distance hiked so far to about 40 miles, over the first 3 segments of the Colorado Trail. Below are some observations from the 2 day hike:
Segment #2: 11.5 miles – 2,482′ elevation gain, 753′ elevation loss
6/4/18 – Segment 2 begins at the South Platte River Trailhead, southwest of Sedalia. After crossing the river South Platte River on the bridge, we began our ascent out of the river valley. It was about a 5 mile climb of 1,600′. About 2 miles of that were through the Buffalo Creek burn area. We were surprised that 22 years after the fire, there were very few small trees coming up. The old dead trees littered the landscape and grasses, shrubs and an abundance of wildflowers (bluebells, Indian paintbrush, columbine, etc) were growing all around them. On the way, we came across an abandoned quartz mine. We also met Kevin, another hiker, from Illinois. We hiked with him for awhile, but ended the climb alone after Kevin decided to stop for a nap (he’d hiked all of segment #1 the day before and hadn’t slept well).
Buffalo Creek Burn Area
We stopped among some large granite boulders and had our lunch. After lunch, the trail turned south and re-entered the Buffalo Creek burn area. It was a relatively flat hike the rest of the way and we were serenaded by meadowlarks and other birds as butterflies flitted around us and at times seemed to be leading the way as we followed them up the trail. At about the 10 mile mark, we came to a paved road and a water source at the firehouse on the road. This seemed to be the edge of the burn area, as we got back into a thicker forested area. We restocked on water and continued about 2 more miles to our camp for the night. It was a great day of hiking, but we were ready to get off our feet by then! This part of the trail passes through a tree thinning area, where about 1/3 of the mature trees had been cut down. The stripped trees were stacked and ready to be shipped for lumber processing. I don’t know if this process is an effort to reduce the risk of a fire spreading over a large area, or if it’s just normal forest management. I suspect it’s been implemented at least in part as a result of the devastating wildfires that have swept through this area over the past few decades.
After resting for a bit, we had dinner (beef stroganoff) and hung the food bag. In the dead tree where we hung the food bag lived a woodpecker. There was a perfectly round hole in the trunk (about 2-1/2 inches in diameter) about 15 feet off the ground. Wood chips from the woodpecker’s work littered the ground around the tree. The woodpecker startled me when he flew out of his hole to a nearby tree when I went to hang the food bag. About the time we were ready to turn in, Kevin walked up and we visited with him for awhile. His 15 minute nap ended up being about an hour, so he was trying to make some miles before dark. He was planning to go another 3 miles or so before camping. He went on down the trail and we crashed.