Challenging, breathtaking, stunning and peaceful: These are just a sampling of the adjectives used by Kimberly Brinton, Caitlyn DiSanto and Jessica Lapham in describing their experience through-hiking the Colorado Trail.
Their adventure began June 26 after months of preparation, each being at a point in their lives when they were able to arrange to be off the grid for six weeks.
“Beyond prepping my life for disengagement from society, there was this whole other world of things required for the trail,” Lapham said.
DiSanto agreed: “Getting the correct gear and preparing for the food allocation was definitely the most difficult part. It’s hard to know how much you need without having previous experience.”
The day-to-day simplicity of hiking, eating and camping was what each enjoyed most about the experience.
“Getting up every morning and knowing that all you have to do that day is hike, not feeling pressured to wear certain clothes or do your hair – you know, put up an image in society,” Brinton said.
“You become grateful for the little things that we take for granted, like using a toilet or having running water,” DiSanto said. “I don’t think I’ve loved my body more than on the trail. It’s like, ‘look what my body can do.’”
Said Lapham: “It’s not always fun, but there was a comfort in walking every day, moving toward a goal that I loved and found peace in.”
The trek took 34 days, averaging about 15 miles per day. The women agreed that the San Juans was one of the more beautiful sections, except for the weather.
“Probably my favorite section was Elk Creek,” Brinton said. “It was breathtakingly beautiful and everything I imagine when I think of nature – a very peaceful place.”
“The terrain was more difficult, but it was so breathtakingly beautiful and unlike any place I’ve ever seen before,” DiSanto said of the San Juans. “It’s amazing that there is a trail that allows you to reach these untouched places.”
It was on this stretch of the trail where the trio encountered bad weather.
“I wanted to love this section. Unfortunately, my experience was tainted by the horrible weather we experienced – lots of rain and hail,” Lapham said. “ ... I can handle long mileage, bad food and being dirty, but when the weather was bad, it stopped being fun.”
“You are constantly at the mercy of the weather, and you’re just always exposed,” DiSanto said.
For Brinton, other issues were more challenging.
“The hardest thing for me was being away from friends and family for that long,” she said. “It was a challenge to take myself out of my comfort zone. It made me realize how lucky and how blessed I am to be surrounded by all the people in my life and made me appreciate them much more.”
Brinton has good advice for those considering the long haul.
“On the CT, you run into so many people who are just doing it their way. Some are doing segments, some did half last year and half this year,” she said. “Instead of making excuses as to why you can’t do it, just get out there, even if it takes you 10 years to complete. Just give it a try. It’s a good experience.”
P.S. Thanks to my daughter Kimberly Brinton and her friends for letting me tag along for four days on their adventure. It was truly a wonderful experience, even with the bad weather.
Reach Marjorie Brinton at firstname.lastname@example.org.