Trip Report – Summer 2020 – Backpacking on the Colorado Trail

Resource links:

First step – choosing a backpack!
REI:  Backpacks: How to Choose
Outdoor Gear Lab: How to Choose the Best Backpack

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Despite all of the weirdness of 2020, the backpacking group in The Woodlands Hiking Club has managed to get some miles in this year.

Back in February, before things got weird, several of the club backpackers got together do do the Lone Star Hiking Trail.  Our crew included Chris Hooks, Ben Pontius, Jim Pflugrath, Bob Dominguez, Oscar Chapa, and myself.  We set off with vigor in mid-February.  Weather was pretty normal for February with mixed clouds, sun, light rains and moderate rains.  We got in a few days of good hiking and a few nights of good camping.  But our crew was experiencing a much higher rate of foot problems than normal.  I am inclined to ascribe the podiatric pain to the weather.  We lost one person to blisters on day two, and by day four we decided that we would have to complete the trail at a future date.  We all had a good time, and choosing exactly the right time to finish backpacking the LSHT will take some careful planning.

More recently, a few of the backpackers decided to bolt on a side trip to the excursion to Woodlands Park Colorado.  A few days before we met up with Barbara and Phil in Woodland Park, our group did the first 4 segments of the Colorado Trail. Our group pushed off from the Waterton Canyon Trailhead on the South Platte River.   This is a relatively gentle sendoff with elevation gain of 2,830 feet over about 17 miles.  The trail gets a bit steeper on Segment 2 starting at the South Platte River Trailhead climbing 2,482 feet over 11.5 miles.  Jenny and I joined the group for Segment 3 starting at Little Scraggy Trailhead.  This segment has elevation gain of 1,975 feet over 12.2 miles.  Our entire group did Segment 4 starting at Rolling Creek Trailhead, climbing 3,271 feet over 16.6 miles and finishing up at Long Gulch.  Our peak elevation for our trek was just a bit less than 11,000 feet near the end of Segment 4.

Our backpacking group consisted of Kari, Oscar, Jenny, and me.  The weather was excellent for our entire trip.  Temperatures were very comfortable, ranging from 40s at night up to mid-70s during the day.  Despite some notes about some of the water spots possibly being dry during the summer we were able to find plenty of water to filter each day.  We have enough to cook, drink, and clean.  We did not have to carry lots of extra water to get us through dry sections.  The trails and the elevation made for some tough hiking for people coming up from flatland, but the hiking was very enjoyable and the scenery was magnificent.

Our backpacking group is slowly transforming our gear loads to ultralight equipment.  A couple of our guys are 100% ultralight.  The rest are making the change one piece of gear at a time.  As with most aficionados of any activity, a constant topic of discussion is new gear, both acquired and pending acquisition.
Of all the places we have backpacked so far, the Colorado Trail is one of the most beautiful and the most challenging.  We look forward to more backpacking in Colorado in the future.

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