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Colorado Trail Thru-Hike Summer 2014 - Input needed!
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Brandt Zook
(BassDude) - F - M

Locale: Texas
Colorado Trail Thru-Hike Summer 2014 - Input needed! on 09/07/2013 15:14:35 MDT Print View

I am planning a full solo thru-hike of the Colorado Trail in 2014. My schedule for work (I am a band director) allows for me to take the trip from June 29th to about July 31st. I plan on 15 mile days to complete the trail in 33 days starting from Denver.

Is this timetable possible/achievable? I have been on shorter backpacking trips but never anything close to this in-depth. I plan on taking as many longer "training" trips as possible leading up to next June.

My gear list is here on Gear Grams:
and a PDF will be uploaded to my profile shortly.

Right now I have a hexamid tarp listed as my shelter, as well as a tigoat bivy, both of which I already have. I am thinking about purchasing a cuben Patrol Shelter and using that instead with my bivy. I just feel the Hexamid Solo is a bit too small for me at around 6' 1" tall. Almost everything else on that list I own already.

My other big point of contention at the moment is the pack, which I do not yet own. I have the SMD Swift listed, which I feel is a good pack, but I am definitely open to other options.

My possible resupply points are as follows:

MILE 105:
Breckenridge at the Fireside Inn: Mail drop

MILE 175:
Twin Lakes General Store: Mail drop

MILE 250:
Monarch Mountain Lodge: Mail drop

MILE 350:
Creede: In-town resupply

MILE 410:
Molas Lake Campground: Mail drop

I have been studying maps online as well as all CT resources I could find. I will be buying the Colorado Guidebook pack from the CT store shortly to aid me in my prep. My questions for you all are:

How are the bugs going to be during this time of the year?

Is my time table reasonable?

How much snow should I expect to encounter? Being from Texas, I don't have much experience with snow. What tweaks may need to be made to my gear list to account for snow?

Do my resupply points seem reasonable?

What other pack options would you recommend?

What tweaking can I do to my gear list in general? I do plan on adding a SPOT to my gear list, as I am doing this solo. What other suggestions can you make?

Thank you for your help in advance!

Link .
(annapurna) - MLife
Re: Colorado Trail Thru-Hike Summer 2014 - Input needed! on 09/07/2013 15:27:52 MDT Print View

Have you looked at Yogi's guide

Brandt Zook
(BassDude) - F - M

Locale: Texas
Thanks! on 09/07/2013 15:38:03 MDT Print View

No, I hadn't seen that before. I'll probably have to purchase that shortly. Thanks!

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Colorado Trail Thru-Hike Summer 2014 - Input on 09/07/2013 15:49:47 MDT Print View

Start reading the CT Forum at

Also read PMags CT Guide:

Brandt Zook
(BassDude) - F - M

Locale: Texas
Pmags End to End on 09/07/2013 16:16:24 MDT Print View

Thanks. I have already checked out those resources. PMags is especially helpful and is where I got information for my resupply points.

I check trailforums sporadically. I will start paying closer attention to it though. Thanks again!

Edited by BassDude on 09/07/2013 16:16:54 MDT.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Bugs and such on 09/07/2013 16:31:10 MDT Print View

The bug proof bivy should be plenty. Maybe bring a 1oz bottle of 98% DEET to rub on your face and hands. You'll probably only us that occasionally but it can be nice. Concentrated DEET will melt plastic a bit so keep off raingear, shelters and other important gear.

I would trade the longjohns for a pair of rainpants. You probably won't need the long johns but hiking all day in cold blowing rain with wet legs is no fun.

There will be some long dry sections. I carried 4 liters of water on one or two occasions. Might want to have a couple extra water bottles in your resupply box for Twin Lakes.

Think about your total pack weight. How often will you carry 20 pounds, 25 or 30 pounds? When I did the trail I did the math and decided with all the dry sections and resupplies I'd carry more then 20 pounds fairly often. At that weight an internal frame pack was worth the weight.

Edit - Make sure this sleeping pad combo is comfortable. Better to carry a few ounces more and sleep at night then have a nice spreadsheet and be sore every morning.

Edit 2 - Its not a big deal but I might leave the book behind. You'll probably just want to go to bed at the end of each day. I had a New Testament and barely read it on my trip.

Edited by Cameron on 09/07/2013 16:36:21 MDT.

Brandt Zook
(BassDude) - F - M

Locale: Texas
Thanks Luke, Great Insight! on 09/07/2013 16:52:18 MDT Print View

I have a bottle of DEET, so I will make sure to bring that.

As far as rain pants go, I have been thinking the same thing and have narrowed it down to two options:
ZPacks Cloudkilt or ZPacks WPB Cuben Fiber Rain pants.

I am personally leaning towards the kilt as it seems to be easy to get on and off, and is only about 2 oz. I could keep the long johns in that case.

Right now I have the capacity for 4 liters of water with my Sawyer Squeeze bottles (plus an extra liter in my dirty water bag). I will give your ideas some definite thought though.

I think my weight will be up in the 25-30 pound range for a significant amount of time. That is why I was leaning towards the SMD Swift with the aluminum hoop stay and Nightlight as an internal frame. My other option was the Elemental Horizons Kalais with the same configuration.

My pad situation is definitely something I will give thoughts to. I plan to iron that part of my kit out as I take on my training hikes.

I do like the idea of losing 6 ounces with the book. I'll give it some more thought.

Thank you for your suggestions!

EDIT: Purchased Yogi's CT Guide and am looking forward to receiving it!

Edited by BassDude on 09/07/2013 16:55:02 MDT.

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
15 MPD on 09/07/2013 17:05:35 MDT Print View

Fifteen MPD is a very reasonable time frame for anyone moderately in shape who has some backpacking experience.

I see you are coming from Texas. If you can, factor in a day or two of acclimation before hitting the trail. Even if the Denver area is "only" a mile high, quite a change from sea level.

The other important advice. Have fun! :)

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Rain Kilt on 09/07/2013 17:06:16 MDT Print View

The kilt should work. I have been using a pair of rain pants cut off at the knees and they work pretty well so I imagine the kilt will be just fine. Since you have zip off pants plan on taking the bottoms of your pants off when it rains. That way they stay dry.

I the the Swift with the internal frame is a good idea. I don't know much about that pack but I think you'll appreciate a frame of some kind.

By the way I think 15 miles a day is a perfectly reasonable goal assuming your are in decent health and have no knee or joint issues. You should have 13 or 14 hours of daylight to hike in so hiking at a comfortable pace down to dusk will get you a long ways.

John S.
(jshann) - F
Re: Thanks Luke, Great Insight! on 09/07/2013 17:52:14 MDT Print View

I would not carry only Sawyer squeeze bottles but would throw in at least a one liter soda bottle in case they leak.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Colorado Trail Thru-Hike on 09/08/2013 02:10:30 MDT Print View

I finished the CT a few weeks ago.

A bit of Denver time was useful for me (to visit REI :-) and also get used to the altitude. I averaged about 17-18 miles a day 'easily' enough although I think I only really got used to the elevation by the end - useful!

I resupplied in towns - using one mail drop at Twin Lakes before doing the Collegiate West alternate - the store there is pretty good, the owners are really friendly, and does hold some freeze dried foods; there is also a hostel there (which I did not know about previously; behind the Twin Lakes Inn). I regretted my mail drop for the oft stated reason that I was sick of the food I'd posted by the time I picked it up...

I visited pretty much every town I could....a great part of the experience for me, coming from the UK. Mags resupply guide is pretty spot-on - although I disagree about Lake City - I met lots of hikers there (or who had been there)- it's an easy hitch.

Monarch Mountain Lodge has shut (need an update Mags?) - this is good as Salida is an easy hitch and the Headwater IPA in the Amica brewery is worth the journey alone.

I used an Osprey Talon 33 with a base weight of about 5kgs. My rain kilt came in handy - but then I hate waterproof trousers. I'd echo the comment about the Sawyer bottles - they are pretty poor, plats don't fit that well and a soda bottle seems to be the way to go.

One of the guys I walked with used Roclite 295s - they seemed to do a good job although he did think the midsole was a little thin. I used Wildcats - pretty good.

Mile for mile the best long walk I've done :-D

Paul Magnanti
(PaulMags) - MLife

Locale: People's Republic of Boulder
Lake city on 09/08/2013 09:29:42 MDT Print View

I have actually updated lake city recently. Mainly because of ravens rest, lake city has become much more hiker aware. This is a recent change in the past year or two. Amazing how one business can change the climate of a town.

As for monarch. Good to now. A very recent change for sure. Their website has them taking reservations up to Nov 2013! :) (There number is down and facebook page is down, though. Who knows. Change of owners? Open again next year? So it goes with businesses in the mountains..esp after Colorado had a terrible ski season two years in a row)

I sincerely appreciate any feedback. The doc is a free labor of love and any input from people who have hiked the trail helps keep the doc relevant.

Edited by PaulMags on 09/08/2013 09:56:48 MDT.

Billy Ray
(rosyfinch) - M

Locale: the mountains
Re: Thanks Luke, Great Insight! on 09/08/2013 09:49:10 MDT Print View

Book... assuming it's a paperback and that you don't care about keeping it new...

you can cut the book in half or what ever sections you like.. pack the first part... then pick up the other parts at your resupplies and toss or give away the first section...

Bill D

Brandt Zook
(BassDude) - F - M

Locale: Texas
Updates to gear list on 09/14/2013 16:25:09 MDT Print View

Thanks everyone for the continued suggestions and insight. I could probably get to Denver a day or so early to get accustomed to the altitude difference (and to stop by REI of course!).

I have replaced the Sawyer Squeeze pouches with Gatorade bottles/a soda or SmartWater bottle for dirty water on the Squeeze. I'll try the Sawyer pouches in my training hike and if they become a point of failure, I can easily switch them out for normal bottles.

After receiving and reading most of Yogi's planning guide, I have switched my stove to alcohol. I made a pop can stove system that works very well.

Also after reading Yogi's, I have decided resupplies in towns are probably best and I will continue planning for that rather than maildrops. This makes fuel much easier to obtain for the alcohol stove as compared to the canister stove I think.

I'm glad 15 miles a day seems achievable. I do run alot and am training for a half marathon in Novemeber, as well as spending lots of time in the gym. Perhaps I will be able to push over 15 miles a day easily.

Thanks for everyone's help so far! My pack baseweight is almost spot on 9.5 lbs. Any advice you have please throw my way!

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Re Updates to Gear List on 09/14/2013 17:59:46 MDT Print View

If you're doing half marathons and working out in the gym I'm sure you'll be able to do more then 15 miles a day. I average 20 miles a day and did several 25-27 mile days. Don't count on it at first until you've adjusted to the altitude but if you're feeling good after a couple days I'd say hike a bit later and see what you are comfortable with.

ed hyatt
(edhyatt) - MLife

Locale: The North
Re Updates to Gear List on 09/15/2013 03:23:02 MDT Print View

I don't run or workout and managed 20+ mile days.

The fire ban this year prohibited alcohol stoves..... not that I saw any rangers. Wish I'd taken my tri-ti, not a great fan of canisters.