Since I fly out in three weeks, I figured it was time to announce my hiking plans for the year! Starting on my 30th birthday, I am doing three thru-hikes – the Colorado Trail, the Long Trail, and the Trans Adirondack Route. It should be about three months of hiking and I can’t wait to get back into the woods!
The Colorado Trail
The Colorado Trail is a 486-mile trail from Denver to Durango with an average elevation of 10,000 feet. It doesn’t go over any 14ers but it goes close enough that I can take some side trips to get a few in. I have only been to Colorado very briefly before, and have not hiked there at all, so I’m excited to explore this beautiful state, both mountains and mountain towns. I am a little concerned about elevation since I’m coming from sea level, but I am upping my cardio fitness before getting there and will start out slowly.
This video is a great look at the trail, although they did it earlier in the season and encountered a lot of snow that will not be there in August:
This blog provides an excellent look at what I will encounter on the trail since it takes place at the same time of season.
The Long Trail
The Long Trail is the oldest long-distance trail in the USA. It is 273 miles long and runs the length of the state. I will be starting at the Canadian border and going southbound, and hopefully, it will be peak foliage season. I have already hiked the lower third of it as it runs concurrently with the Appalachian Trail for that section, and it was one of my favorite locations of the whole AT. The northern half is said to be much more difficult, but since I’ll be coming from Colorado, I’m hoping the abundance of oxygen at the lower elevations of Vermont will keep me going strong.
Check out this article from Backpacker Magazine entitled “America’s Worst Trail: A Love Story.” A few quotes:
At the very least, a week on the trail satisfies some soul-deep need that keeps us from stumbling out into the streets en masse and flogging ourselves with penitence chains or acting out some other demented, destructive need to connect to something more real than our desk jobs.
Just then, a classic LT tableau unfolded below me. A ragged twentysomething dripping sweat came muttering around a bend in the trail and stopped to look up at the pointless ascent in front of her. With a calm fury, she then ripped several pages out of her copy of the Green Mountain Club’s Long Trail Guide, looked back in anger and contempt at her male companion, and stomped the offending pages into the mud. She obviously had no intention of carrying out the litter. Next, she loosened her pack’s hipbelt, monkeyed her way up the climb, and powered past me without surprise or interest. A couple of feet later, she turned and said to no one in particular, “Gentle ascent, my ass. Bastards.”
The worst part is that when she got to the next summit she could also, I’m sure, look back toward where she’d started that morning and see the mellow, rolling hills of Vermont stretching off behind her. The sons and daughters of unwed parents who constructed the LT have managed to turn the gently sloping Green Mountains into 273 miles of demonic jungle gym.
Sounds fun to me!
The Trans Adirondack Route
The Trans Adirondack Route is 236 miles through New York’s Adirondack State Park, the largest forest preserve in the lower 48. It’s a new trail as of last year, although it’s really more of a “route” since it uses existing trails, forest roads, and even some bushwhacking. I’m currently brushing up on my map and compass skills for it, as that’s not a skill I ever had a practical use for before, hiking only on well-marked trails. This hike will be very weather dependent since I’ll be getting there late in the season but I’m hoping that winter doesn’t come early this year.
There is not a whole lot of information about this trail online, and in fact, I heard about it from a fellow hiker. It sounded great to me though and easily added to my original itinerary of CT and LT. I made plans to hike it before even receiving the guidebook and maps but I think it’s a good decision. At this point, only four people have thru-hiked it, and records for the Trans ADK are there for the taking, not breaking. Personally, I’m hoping for “Oldest Female Thru-Hiker” but I’ll see what else is available when I finish.
Yes, I am planning on doing these hikes by myself. No, I am not particularly worried about it. A couple of friends have talked about maybe joining me for some sections but for the most part, I will be hiking solo. I may also meet people out there to hike with, who knows. And I do have phone numbers of people who live near all three trails if I need help.
The CT and LT are both very well-supported trails that cross roads frequently for exit points if necessary. There won’t be a thru-hiker “bubble” of tons of people I’m constantly around like on the AT, but the trails still see quite a bit of use and I expect to see at least one other human every day, with many more on weekends.
I have never hiked in the Adirondacks before but I expect them to be much more remote. There are some roads to get out on, and I have also decided to carry a SPOT. It’s a GPS device that has three main buttons on it:
OK – This button sends my location and a message saying I’m okay to a list of preconfigured emails.
Help – This button sends my location and a message saying I need help but it’s not an emergency to a list of preconfigured emails.
SOS – This button sends my location to Search and Rescue (911).
It also allows for tracking but I will not be doing that as it runs the battery down very quickly. But with the SPOT, I can check in to let family know I’m alive even without a cell phone signal, and the satellite coverage encompasses every area I will be hiking in. I have had friends use this device before with good results. It’s still technology, so of course it’s not infallible, but I’m hoping it provides some peace of mind to those at home.
Let the countdown begin!