Who would have thought, the first three segments are among the easiest elevation-wise, and yet, throw in some heat and dry conditions and you would have thought we were trekking through some of the hardest terrain on the trail.
Colorado Trail Segment 3 of 28
Start: Little Scraggy TH
End: Rolling Creek TH
Distance: 12.2 Miles
We wanted to be open and honest about our experience on the Colorado Trail from the outset of creating the videos, sharing the photos and writing the blogs. It is easy to show all the good stuff, and there is plenty of it. But not so easy to share the difficulties, hardships and the not so nice events. But reality speaks, life is not perfect, nor is any thru-hike for that matter. Hell, if we’re honest with ourselves, there are times on trail that are just not that interesting or eye-popping. However, there is far more to the trail than big views! It’s quite difficult to explain, just like any big event in life, if you’ve been there you probably get it.
Segment 3 of the Colorado Trail was a transition for us. After hiking through and coming out of the hot temperatures of segment one, and the heat and burn scar of segment two we were, well, whooped. The heat had taken a toll on us, especially Mia. We walked slowly and drank a lot. Unfortunately the damage was done. We were moving forward, but almost in a dream state. It is quite amazing what draining yourself mentally and physically can do to a person, especially on trail where the comforts of home are far, far away. We were apprehensive that the oppressive heat would ever go away, granted we now had some relief from the sun with plenty of forest overhead, the heat was still lingering. It just goes without saying, we are not lower elevation hikers in the summer months.
We plugged away at the miles looking forward to Buffalo Creek, the first major and naturally running water source we would see since the Platte River at the end of segment one. The creek was a sight for sore eyes and a great way to relax after walking almost 40 miles. Shocking at first, the water felt amazing to our tired and swollen feet. We had lunch, drank to our hearts’ content and waded in the cool running stream for a good long while before heading back out on the trail. Amazing what a water feature can do for the psyche after so many punishing miles. Refreshed and eager to move on, we reluctantly left our little oasis and began another climb, becoming hot and dry once again.
Unfortunately, Mia had begun to show signs of her own weariness. A conversation soon ensued and we knew what choice had to be made. Mia would be getting off trail and going home. It was the right thing to do, just not what we wanted to do. But for her safety and comfort it was a necessity. Dogs will follow their owners over a cliff if you let them. Mia no doubt would have continued on disregarding her own health to stay with us. Instead, we decided she would enjoy the luxury of family and the comfort of home, giving us peace of mind that she would be well cared for. She would return to hike segments 4 and 5 with us, but that would be all. The trail was just too long and remote for a little chihuahua and carrying her the entire way would be overwhelming.
We took a few days off to regroup and reevaluate our gear before heading back out on trail. A much needed break for all of us to say the least. Who would have thought, the first three segments are among the easiest elevation-wise, and yet, throw in some heat and dry conditions and you would have thought we were trekking through some of the hardest terrain on the trail. Indeed, there is a surprise around every bend of the Colorado Trail, weather included. Fortunately for us, and being on the backside now to see it, we were to be on the receiving end of some of the best hiking weather ever in the days to come. We didn’t know it then, but our experience with the CT was about to become remarkably blessed. After our low point early on, the trail began to surprise us in other ways, ways we continue to look back on and just say “wow, we were so lucky.”