So Jessica and I made it back down to Winter Park, Colorado where I left off on the CDT. The weather is nice, but the mountains are positively blanketed with snow. We tried driving up to a trailhead only to find the service road blocked by feet of snow a few miles from the CDT.
Hiking the trail is no longer an option in Colorado, especially since the majority of it resides over ten and twelve thousand feet in elevation. I only know of two people who are even still in Colorado, and they’re walking roads. Everyone else has skipped down to New Mexico and is currently hiking south there.
So I’m faced with several decisions. I can skip to New Mexico and finish my hike; I can road walk the 550 miles of Colorado that I still need to do; or I can go home and do the trail again next year.
Originally I had no qualms about road walking. This is an unconventional trail that requires unconventional methods at times. However, when I envisioned myself having to road walk, I only envisioned having to walk around the San Juans if I arrived too late. I never in my wildest dreams thought that I’d get shut out of more than 500 miles of trail. Well, that’s what has happened.
I know myself, and I know if I road walk 3/4 of Colorado, or skip down to New Mexico…I won’t feel like a Triple Crowner, or even like I’ve completed a thru hike. Neither of those options will satisfy me, and to be honest, I really wanted to see the trail in Colorado. I’m not going to road walk icy roads for hundreds of miles. Not happening.
So, I’m actually very pleased with the alternative option to all of that. I come back early next spring and hike north from Mexico. So long as I reach where I left off in Colorado before June, 22…then I’ve still completed the trail in a calendar year, thus qualifying as a thru hike. Still, I know that won’t be good enough for my OCD. I’ll probably just continue and finish the entire thing again. I’m excited about this new option because it gives me the chance to start over again with Katana (who I’ve missed dearly throughout this adventure). It also gives me the opportunity to thru hike with my girlfriend, who will be hiking the CDT next year anyways to get her Triple Crown. If I’m totally honest with myself, I would have ended up back out here on the CDT next year whether I completed it this year or not. So I’m happy with my decision.
I’m normally very hard on myself when it comes to this sort of thing. By all my own personal definitions…I have failed. However I feel no guilt, regret, or sorrow. The trail wasn’t too difficult for me. I wasn’t having a terrible time. Each day wasn’t a struggle to convince myself whether I should go on or not. No, I enjoyed myself immensely this year, and this trail was nowhere near beyond my mental or physical capabilities. The solitude and lack of foot traffic out here was unsurpassed and positively intoxicating. The culture out here(or lack thereof) is far different from that of the PCT and AT. In fact I’ve grown to love it in a way that surpasses my love even for the AT. The simple fact of the matter is that winter came early this year and threw a monkey wrench in a lot of people’s hikes; on all the trails, and in both directions.
Schweppes is still on trail and less than 500 miles from Mexico. He did this hike fast and furious, and even he still got shut out of the San Juans by the early snowfall and had to go around them. I’m extremely glad that one of us made it, and I can’t wait to congratulate him on his accomplishment. I’ll be back in the spring to do this again right, and with a couple of critters I love and care about that should have been with me all along this year.
So I apologize to have to cut short this adventure narrative that you’ve all been invested in and following the last few months. It’ll be back on in the spring, and I’ll pick it back up from this final post. I’ll also have the book on my PCT thru hike finished by the time I start hiking next March, so there’s that to look forward to as well.
Thank you all so much for the love, support, and encouragement you’ve shown me over the years, months, and weeks! Hopefully I’ll see you all here again in a few months!
Make the journey your destination…
Kyle aka Mayor
P.s. Stand by for updates and pictures of Katana when I get home.