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Colorado trail in mid-aug to September??
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Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Colorado trail in mid-aug to September?? on 11/13/2013 09:14:25 MST Print View

So the pct gets put off until 2015 (as I have an awesome faculty opportunity I simply can't pass up this year...but that's ok...more financial security for the trip!). In it's place, I'd like to do the CT, but I can't start until after the summer semester is over Aug 8. I'd like to take my time doing it...take some zeros and neros and I'm thinking 5 weeks. That takes me into September...

Granted this is early to start talking about this, but am I nuts to plan the Colorado as a good thru at this time of year, or should I try to plan something else for that time?? I would certainly do the JMT again, or maybe the high Sierra route (solo this time!!), but I'd love to do something different. I don't really want to section hike, as I have great plans to do a triple crown (and the triple tiara!) and I'd love for it to be a mostly new experience.

Any thoughts? I have no high altitude winter experience (ie micro spikes and ice ax) but I don't mind learning. I have a lot of lowland cold weather backpacking experience (think Midwest), but nothing at altitude. I won't do the CT solo, not sure who I'll go with, but i want to do it with a companion or two.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Colorado trail in mid-aug to September?? on 11/13/2013 09:47:45 MST Print View


You will be fine and you won't need crampons, ice axes, and the like (unless Mother Nature gets wildly unusual). By the time you get to the higher altitudes in the San Juans, the monsoon season will be ending but the nights will be colder. You'll probably want an extra layer from Salida south.

With school ending Aug 8, figure you won't get on trail until around the 15th. Coming from the low lands, you'll want some time to adjust to the altitude. Stay 1 or 2 nights in Denver before starting at Waterton Canyon (5,520 feet elev). Five weeks puts you in Durango around Sept 19; later if you go slower.

Be sure to order the CT Foundations latest guidebook.

Other resources for you:

The CT Forum

PMags CT End to End Guide <= EXCELLENT

Yogi's CT Handbook

CT hike video

The CT on Google Earth (also the CT Foundation website)

August 2009 Trail report with many photos. They were entering the San Juans about the time you will be starting from Denver.

Wandering Bob

Edited by wandering_bob on 11/13/2013 10:24:08 MST.

Luke Schmidt
(Cameron) - MLife

Locale: The WOODS
Go For It! on 11/13/2013 18:22:08 MST Print View

+1 On everything Bob said.

I did the trail in 2011 (Denver to Molas Pass) and 2012 (Durango to Molas). My first section was in mid-August to September. I don't remember the exact dates. The second was in mid September. In my opinion that is a great time to hike. The monsoon season should be mostly over. In my case it lasted later then usual but even then it was probably better then hiking mid summer.

Water sources will be a bit more dried out and it is worth researching them and talking to people. There was one that was almost completely dried up and another that I never could find.

By the time I hit the dry sections I was averaging about 22 mile a day. If I did it again I'd try to pace myself for more like 25-30 mile days. That way you get through faster, can carry less food, and hit water sources more often.

Feel free to PM me about any questions.

Jennifer Mitol
(Jenmitol) - M

Locale: In my dreams....
Re: Go For It! on 11/14/2013 07:01:05 MST Print View

Sweet!! Dried up water sources would be good practice for me for the southern pct I guess.

If my teaching wraps up aug 8...I'd like to be in Denver aug 9....hang out for a day or two, then hit the trail by the first of the next week. I'd like to start out doing 10 miles a day to acclimate, then ramp it up to 15 in that first week, then hit the 20s for most of the rest of the trip. But I also want some zeros or neros...I missed that during the JMT. There were a few places I wanted to stop and chill for a day to enjoy, but had to keep walking through because of my schedule. So I don't want to make that mistake again.

It seems like that time of year will be fine (of course, barring any weird climate change fiasco next year). So thanks!!! Now I can start planning and getting some maps and guidebooks!!!

Hk Newman
(hknewman) - MLife

Locale: Western US
Re: Colorado trail in mid-aug to September?? on 11/14/2013 08:41:27 MST Print View

Along this same thread, is there an advantage to doing a CT thru-hike SOBO vs. NOBO in late summer? It would seem going from Durango to Denver would be easier logistically*. Already did the basic framework for this past Aug but stayed on the job to pay off some vacation bills. With some free time, was looking at the north-bound plan i.e. ...reserved flight to Denver, then another reserved flight to Durango from Denver, … then arranging the flight out of Denver - a bigger hub - depending on hiking pace, any obstacles like fires, etc… or just visiting the general Denver area if waiting on a flight. *Note: I do not need to acclimate being from a relatively high altitude zip code.

Edited by hknewman on 11/14/2013 09:07:58 MST.

Bob Bankhead
(wandering_bob) - MLife

Locale: Oregon, USA
Colorado trail in mid-aug to September?? on 11/14/2013 09:56:29 MST Print View

Quoting from PMags CT End to End Guide:

"Northeast / Denver Bound: You do face some of the hardest terrain and higher elevation right away, end in the more subtle Wateron Canyon. End of trip will prove to be easy terrain wise. If you start late in the season, going
Denver bound extends the window of hiking by one or two weeks to early-mid October."

Edited by wandering_bob on 11/14/2013 09:58:48 MST.