Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Colorado Trail segments 1-4

One of Sean and I's goals is to Run or backpack the entire Colorado Trail.  The Colorado Trail is 468 miles running from Denver to Durango. 
We started running it on March 24-25 and have been doing segments on weekends when he have time. 

Segment 1: Waterton Canyon to South Platte Canyon
Peak Elevation: 7520ft.
Date: 3/24/12
We parked one car at the start of segment 2 and one at Waterton canyon, then we ran from Waterton Canyon to our car and then drove to pick up the car at Waterton and moved it to the end of segment 3 and then drove back to the start of segment 2 to camp.  Segment 1 was 16.8 miles from Waterton Canyon to South Platte Canyon.    It starts at 5520 feet and ends at 6120 feet of elevation.  The first 6.7 miles is the Waterton Canyon road which then becomes a singletrack through the forest.  There was still a little snow in places, but nothing that slowed us down much. 

Peak elevation 7520 ft: mile 12.6
Setting up camp by moonlight and headlamp and dinner under the stars.

Segment 2: South Platte Canyon to Little Scraggy Trailhead
Peak Elevation: 7840ft.
Date: 3/25/12
Segment 2 is 11.5 miles and runs by the Buffalo Creek fire area.  It starts at 6120 feet and ends at 7840 feet of elevation.  We got a late start again and were running during the peak heat of the day.  There was one tiny patch of snow but the trail was clear.  It was pretty warm that day and due to the Buffalo Creek fire in 1996 there was only small patches of shade.  Seeing the impact of the fire was impressive; it looked like a tree cemetary with only tree skeletons left.  The trees were in sharp contrast to the red sand and rocks.  The burn area has an unique beauty. The day after we finished segment 2 a huge fire broke out which was thought to have started from a controlled burn a few days prior.  We are very grateful to have not been there on the day the fire started. 

Segment 3: Little Scraggy Trail head to Rolling Creek Trailhead
Peak Elevation: 8280ft.
Date: 4/7/12
Segment 3 is 12.2 miles and starts at 7840 feet and ends at 8280 feet of elevation.  Compared to segment 2 this was a shady paradise with many stream crossings.
Lazy girl recliner.

Segment 4: Rolling Creek Trailhead to Long Gulch
Peak Elevation: 10,880ft.
Date: 4/14/12.
We made it to mile 5 before the snow started to get very deep and the trail was very difficult to follow.  We post-holed around for a while and tried to run from trail marker to trail marker, but we were unable to follow the trail.  Our feet were wet, we couldn't see the trail, it started snowing and we had no idea how much further it would be before the snow cleared.  We were both wearing shorts and wet socks and had run out of food and were moving very slowly because we couldn't see the trail.  We made the smart decision to turn around at around mile 5.5.

We will have to return to segment 4 in the future to complete the portions we missed.
We met some fascinating people Monday night (5/28/12) at the end of segment 4 who are backpacking the entire trail this summer- they said that segment 4 was completely clear.  You can follow their journey on facebook at "Conquering the Colorado Trail."

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