Friday, October 9, 2009

The Colorado Trail: Aftermath and Continuation

Robyn and I finished our hike on July 23. We were very happy to finish the trail, but sad to see that part of our summer come to an end. Being out on the trail for 25 days together was a great experience that we are excited to repeat at some point in (near) future. It was great to meet Keith. We will surely have more backpacking experiences with him. He is already dropping us hints about the PCT!

We moved to Boulder two weeks before starting our hike. When we finished, we were able to properly take the time necessary to explore Boulder. Of course, that meant finding as many trails as possible. I got back into running straight away and we both spent a good deal of time hiking. Oh yeah, the town of Boulder itself is also quite cool.

Robyn coming down from Bear Peak

We drove back to Durango on August 1 to pick up our dog, Cassie. She had stayed with my parents for the summer while we moved and were on the Colorado Trail. It took her several days to get used to her new home, but she is enjoying her walks in the forest on the Shanahan Trails and her frequent trips in the car. She has also been going to rowing practice with Robyn and riding in the motorboat with Robyn while she coaches. Cassie loves the water!

Cassie in top form!

School started for Robyn on August 10 and for me on the 17th. She teaches special education at a charter school in Arvada and I teach math at a private school in North Denver. Getting used to commuting 30 minutes each way to work was quite a task for both us. We had come from a boarding school where we lived on campus for 2 years and a summer camp where we lived on the premises for 1.5 years. Robyn is also coaching rowing in North Boulder and taking a graduate course at CU Boulder in special education; she is one busy person!

Both of our bodies held up very well on the Colorado Trail. However, with our return I promptly injured myself several times. The first occurred on an evening trail run a week after starting school when I tripped over a rock. I was wearing my racing flats and hit my foot into the rock and went face first into some rocks. I was scraped up on my hands, but ended up with a small fracture of my fifth metatarsal (outside of my foot). That required a trip to urgent care to get a splint, which I actually ended up taking off right away because it was more uncomfortable than anything.

After two weeks off, I participated in a short 4.5 mile trail race in Eldorado Canyon that I had signed up for months earlier. I had run one time before and my foot felt good, so I thought I would give it a go. The run was great, except I caught another rock while running full out downhill. I was wearing my racing flats and broke the fourth toe on my other foot. I got some great scrapes from this fall!

Ouch! Broken fourth toe!

Now, three weeks later, I am back to feeling pretty good. I went on two runs earlier this week. The first run was in the pouring rain at White Ranch Open Space Park in Golden and the second was an early morning run along the Shanahan, Mesa, and Bluebell Trails in Boulder. I tripped again on the second run, but didn't break anything! I don't know if I should be happy because I didn't really hurt anything this time or concerned because I keep falling. I'm actually listening to Tom Petty's Free Fallin' as I write this. It seems like a trend...I need to break this one!

Two weekends ago we hiked up Buffalo Mountain in Silverthorne. It was a nice hike, complete with a quick-building storm when we reached the top. We went up in the sun and came down in the hail with thunder rattling around us. It was another few hours of good fun!

Robyn hiking up Buffalo Mtn with Lake Dillon in the background

Morgan and Robyn hiking on top of Buffalo Mtn just before the first rumbles of thunder

Robyn, Ash (Robyn's sister who is here visiting from South Africa), and I went climbing at North Table Mountain a few days ago. It was good fun to climb again. We chuckled about how little it took for our forearms to start burning! We're not in shape for that. I have been mountain biking quite a bit at White Ranch and around Marshall Mesa. We have also spent quite a bit of time hanging out at the park next to our house slacklining. We bought some telemark skis and ice climbing gear recently and are ready for a new set of adventures.

We miss being out on the trail everyday, but the trail isn't quite out of our lives yet. I was asked to re-write the narrative parts of the Colorado Trail Guidebook last week by the Colorado Trail Foundation. It will be a very cool project resulting in a new, updated 8th edition due out next September. Robyn and I will also be representing the Colorado Trail Foundation at the flagship REI in Denver on Saturday, October 24th. Come on out if you are the area!

The Colorado Trail: Equipment List

I strongly believe in the lightweight philosophy of backpacking. Carrying light gear doesn't mean compromising comfort or safety. In fact, it can enhance both of these while in the backcountry. I find it is more comfortable to walk along a trail with 15-25 pounds in my backpack than 40+ pounds. Carrying a light bag lets you avoid the plods and staring three feet in front of your feet the whole time. It really can be enjoyable to walk trails with a backpack that has 5+ days worth of food and supplies. Knowing how to use gear for multiple purposes (sleeping pad doubles as a seat, backpack under your legs at night to avoid carrying a full length pad, using your sleeping bag as a warm layer in the evening rather than bringing a heavy fleece jacket, etc.) can make you more self-sufficient and confident in the outdoors. You don't need the whole kitchen sink!

Morgan's Gear List

Brooks Running Shorts
REI Convertible Pants
Smartwool socks (2 pair)
Patagonia Midweight Long Underwear Bottoms
REI Midweight Long Underwear Top
Patagonia Lightweight Wicking Tee
REI Midweight Fleece Hoodie
GoLite Poncho/Tarp
REI Boxer Briefs
Baseball style Breathable Cap
REI Fleece Gloves
Nike Air Pegasus Running Shoes w/Superfeet Insoles

GoLite 20 degree Quilt
Black closed-cell ensolite half-pad

Backpack/Water Storage:
GoLite Infinity Pack (old model, straps and lid trimmed)
Deuter 3-liter Water bladder & one 20-oz plastic water bottle

Cooking/Water Purifying:
Tuna Can Alcohol Stove
16 oz Denatured Alcohol (lasts 6 days)
1-liter MSR Stainless Steel Pot w/Lid
Aqua Mira Water Purifying Drops (Part A and B)

Sony DCR-SX40 Video Camcorder w/8GB memomry card
Extra 4GB Memory Card
Mountainsmith Flash Camera Case (size M)
REI 2-Person Ultralight Tent (carried fly and poles, Robyn carried the tent body)
Leki Titan Trekking Poles
Homemade First Aid Kit
Credit Card/Driver's License/$40 cash
Princeton Tec 4-Mode Headlamp
Colorado Trail Databook
Colorado Trail Maps (only the pages for the section we were hiking)