I flew to Denver late Thursday night and Caboose, an AT friend, was awesome enough to pick me up at the airport after 1am. By the time we got back to her place and had a quick sandwich and went to sleep, it was 3am, or really 5am where I started. Oops.
Friday morning, we walked around downtown. It was my first time in the city so I wanted to check it out. We also stopped by Wilderness Exchange Unlimited, an outfitter that a friend told me I could find a ride to the trailhead at. The bus listed in my guide appears to no longer be running and Caboose had to work in the morning, but I made arrrangements for a ride easily at the outfitter.
Then we headed over to the Denver County Fair. It was indoors, which was strange. We got to watch some dog agility competitons, a family circus act, a pie eating contest, and try adult Big Wheel racing. It was pretty fun.
Finally, we headed to Red Rocks Amphitheater, which I was super psyched to see. Amos Lee was playing a sold out show with the Colorado Symphony Orchestra. We managed to get one ticket through a musician friend of mine who is neighbors with the keyboard player and another ticket through craigslist. We did a little tailgating in the parking lot first with some other ladies that were parked in front of us, which was a very good time. Then we headed in to the show.
The opener was ZZ Ward, who I had never heard of before but she had a great voice. Then Amos came out, and it was such an amazing show! We were in row 16 for most of it, but we snuck down row 5 for the end.
This morning, I met Terrance at Wilderness Exchange at 7am and he dropped me off at the trailhead. The first 6 miles of trail follow a gravel road next to the South Platte River in Waterton Canyon. There were a ton of walkers, runners, bikers, and fishers on the trail already. It was a gorgeous day with a nice, cool breeze. Eventually I turned off the road onto a single track trail. There were still a ton of bikers out and many of them stopped to chat when I stepped off the trail to let them by.
I have seen plenty of wildlife already: some bighorn sheep and deer in the canyon, a small lizard on the trail, and plenty of birds, including three hummingbirds. Three different times when I stopped for a break, a hummingbird would keep showing up right in front of me, startling me, and then keep coming back to check me out. It took until the third one for me to realize why: I managed to get an even brighter pink shirt than last year to wear, and they probably think I’m some giant flower.
I did 16 miles today. The trail itself has been fairly clear about half the time so far, and a little rocky the other half. There was plenty of elevation gain and loss today too. I went 1000′ up, 400′ down, 1400′ up, and almost 1400′ down again. After taking a long lunch at Bear Creek, I loaded up on water to dry camp tonight so I could really feel the weight of my pack on the last big up and down. I also have a week of food to start so my pack has to be over 30 pounds at the moment. My body needs to get used to carrying that kind of weight again. I was definitely footsore by the time I found the campsite I was aiming for, but I was coming down steep switchbacks from the ridge so there weren’t any level places to stop and camp earlier. I’m at about 6400′.
I had dinner, hung my bear bag, and was in bed by 6:30. Time to catch up on some sleep.