Apr 2, 2010 at 3:13 pm #1257243
I will be moving to Colorado from Illinois soon and I'm going to thru hike the Colorado Trail. I'm debating on when i should do it. i hiked a bit of the trail this last July and thought the weather was great, but id like to spend that time this year adjusting and hiking colorado wonders with my fiance. my first thought was august right after lollapalooza, but hear its pretty rainy that month. I'm now thinking september but have never been to colorado that time of year and don't know what to expect. i need some advice!!!
.maestro.Apr 2, 2010 at 4:34 pm #1593650
How long do you plan on hiking? I'd recommend July for sure. You'll possibly hit some snow patches that haven't melted depending on when you start in July and how fast you are hiking. August would be fine too, earlier the better.
By mid to late August you will likely get snowed on by new snow and September could get a big storm though you never quite know.Apr 2, 2010 at 5:10 pm #1593661
@hikinggrannyLocale: Gateway to Columbia River Gorge
More mosquitoes in July.
No bugs and less people in September, but far more likelihood of significant snow.
At least in northern Colorado, less chance of rain in early August, and less bugs than in July. More people, though!Apr 2, 2010 at 7:25 pm #1593712
thanks for the input guys. the trail should take me 3 weeks max. im aiming for 2 and a half though. july had a lot of mosquitoes but most of the time manageable. august is sounding promising, but i need to know what the storms are like cause i dont wanna be hunkered down below treeline for long periods of time.Apr 3, 2010 at 7:30 am #1593800
Storms are usually fast and scary. The can come any time in the summer. Last summer they pounded me all through June/early July. Two years ago they danced around me and hardly touched me in August.
I wouldn't purposefully go above treeline when an impending storm is coming but usually they blow through fast and you can continue afterwords.
If we're in a monsoonal cycles, you'll know it. Every afternoon it will storm and then move on.Apr 3, 2010 at 12:40 pm #1593872
Colorado summer storms tend to be incredibly heavy, but over quickly. Ditto the comment on getting down below tree level, because the lightning can be awe-inspiring. You can feel and even smell them coming, however, so it's a not real surprise when the heavens cut loose.Apr 3, 2010 at 3:26 pm #1593916
so it sounds like i never should have second guessed august! if anyone has any more info about the colorado trail in august that would be great.
.maestro.Apr 5, 2010 at 11:43 am #1594458
@derek_fcLocale: Northern Colorado Front Range
Howdy All, I'm a new guy here…
I'm curious if anyone has a favorite part of the CO trail. I was thinking about a 5-6 day trip.
Or would it be so busy that you'd recommend somewhere else if you were going to backpack in CO.
Thanks.Apr 5, 2010 at 2:23 pm #1594533
I am looking to do the section through the La Garita Mountains. Lots of high alpine meadows and open terrain, Elk, Moose, Bighorn Sheep, interesting volcanic geology, relatively unvisited high 13ers and 14er San Luis Peak, fishing in beaver ponds. Overall it's far from civilization and offers relative solitude. I think this section would be best early in the year when the Elk have their new calves up in the very high meadows to feed on the young alpine grasses or in September when the Aspens are starting to turn and the Elk are starting to rut.
You can do routes from 27 miles (Eddiesville TH to Spring Hill Pass) all the way to connecting to Molas Pass in the San Juans 80 miles away to see the best of the La Garita's and the heart of the San Juans.Apr 5, 2010 at 4:16 pm #1594566
@derek_fcLocale: Northern Colorado Front Range
Thanks. Sounds intriguing, and is from a part of CO I haven't seen yet (rather new to here).
Incidentally, the La Garita caldera is the remnant of the largest eruption measured–bigger even than Yellowstone's big ones…Apr 5, 2010 at 5:59 pm #1594602
I have a lot of favorite parts, but the San Juans sections are the prettiest continuous section IMO.
As for busy, outside of the few popular and easily accessible trailheads (waterton, Kenosha, gold hill, elbert/massive, junction creek) I think you'll find the trail pretty deserted. At least I did.Apr 5, 2010 at 6:07 pm #1594605
nmApr 5, 2010 at 6:58 pm #1594619
There is so much to love about the CT that it is hard to narrow it down just one part. Some of the most beautiful scenery IMO comes after San Luis Peak– Spring Creek, Carson Saddle, Molas Pass etc and depending on the time of year you was thinking of for your trip, then this is where I would go.
If you are looking at earlier in the season, then the Collegiate Range could provide some interest in and around the Twin Lakes and then make your way towards US-50 or Marshall's Pass. Here you also have opportunities to climb a few 14ers (Mt. Elbert, Oxford, Yale, Harvard and Princeton) should you wish to side-track. Note, this area could see a little more traffic.
I also recommend the La Garita Wilderness area starting at Eddiesville TH. In fact my wife, father-in-law and myself come here at least once a year to hike and fly-fish; it is a beautiful part of the country.Apr 6, 2010 at 12:28 pm #1594865
@thinairLocale: 6237' - Manitou Springs
Back to the topic.
Ross, the truth is there are some general patterns but the weather here is highly variable. The variations are more extreme at higher altitudes. Winter comes early and leaves late above timberline, which is ~11000' or so in Colorado.
I would'nt hesitate to go anytime July-Sept.
But be aware you can get very cold temps, snow, rain, wind, etc at any time and you need to be prepared for it all.
A >typical< September is nice with warm days and cool-to-cold nights.
If you really want a specific recommendation I would advise last week or 2 of August into the first couple weeks of September.Apr 6, 2010 at 8:39 pm #1595066
thanks for bringing the topic back haha. august sounds like a great time for me. that will give me all of june and july to get use to the mountains and prepare. i am very excited to hike this trail. this will be my first thru hike and i need to take it very seriously. i will be hiking solo and there is no room for error. any advice about the trail and thru hiking the trail that would be awesome.
.maestro.Apr 6, 2010 at 10:08 pm #1595101
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
An august hike brings a significantly increased danger of thunderstorms. Go ahead if you want to, but many CT thruhikers advice against it.
I hiked, and finished September 17th. We went slow (because my partner was slow). The lax schedule allowed us to sit in town for the few snow "storms" that we had. None dropped over a few inches. It was nice.
This year I plan on being southbound on the CDT throughout September. I'll be crossing my fingers that the snow holds out and that I'm sturdy enough to endure what happens. If I need to hike lower routes, I won't mind missing the southern san juans because I've already been on the CT.
A two part video of my Colorado Trail thruhike can be seen at: Outside365.comApr 7, 2010 at 10:10 am #1595271
hey jack! my fiance katelyn and i watched your great thru hike video last year in preparation for hiking part of the trail back in july. it looked like you and your partner had a great time on the trail, same for us. i wish katelyn would be joining me on this thru hike, but she will be starting her junior year at the university of colorado denver. whereas i am a songwriter and the time is available. i know she will miss me(especially if school will be stressful), therefore i will be hiking solo and fast. i was really liking early September after finding out that August is colorados "monsoon" season. what can i expect for the trail in the first half of September? i am also trying to decide if i wanna hike from durango to denver. i think i would hike a little differently if i have the mindset that im hiking towards my home where katelyn is waiting for me. or would i have a deeper impact by saving the san jauns for the end?Apr 7, 2010 at 10:24 am #1595275
There is something special about going "home" but the Durango finish is much nicer IMO.
September could be beautiful or you could have quite a bit of rain and snow. Temperatures will be a little colder.Apr 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm #1595349
I agree with Chris, SOBO is a much nicer finish than the anti-climatic Waterton Canyon.
If you are considering hiking later in the season, then I would go north-bound– this way you get over the west facing sides, the more difficult terrain and of course through the higher elevations almost immediately and will give you more of a cushion against those possible September storms.Apr 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm #1595358
how cold in early september. ill hike in late winter here in illinois in running shorts and be fine. i dont mind cold weather.Apr 7, 2010 at 2:25 pm #1595373
You could easily see lows in the lower-to-mid 20s during September. I have woken up to freezing temps in July on the CT. So you can certainly expect colder temps at higher elevation, further-more parts of the trail are above the tree-line and thus adequate shelter can be hard to find.
However, it is not necessarily the cold that is the problem– it is the snow. In the fall it can dump 6+ inches of snow on you in a matter of hours and if you are at higher elevation or still on the west side, then it won't be clearing up any time soon, making the trail difficult at best.
So if you go Denver-bound in early September, snow is less likely, but as always, it is still a possibility.Apr 7, 2010 at 9:11 pm #1595511
@foundLocale: Sacramento, CA
In September I mostly still hiked in shorts and t-shirt. Sometimes I suited up due to the cold though, even when hiking. I wore everything a few times. Baselayers (essential), a fleece shirt, a not very warm synthetic puffy pullover, rain gear, gloves and hats. A few times, I got drenched. Had to set up camp a few times in torrential rain and spent a few wet nights. Nothing like the cold that I'm out in during winter.Apr 7, 2010 at 10:24 pm #1595537
@legkohodLocale: Eastern Europe / Caucasus
>> "there is no room for error…" <<
I hiked the Colorado CDT 2 years back (almost the CT), and it was my first thru-hike. We were going north and met a lot of SoBos on the CT. It seemed to be a popular hike with moderate opportunities for socializing (this is important! most people don't feel good after 2 days of not communicating with anyone).
I would imagine that if you're on this forum, you can handle the gear issues on your own.
Our major failure on this first thru-hike (40 days) was FOOD. We were overly influenced by the "healthy trail eating" ideas of Ray Jardine and Francis Tapon, and failed to take a calorie-counting, protein-counting approach. We had to mooch food off people every single week because we were running out a day early.
My recommendation would be to invest some time in the study of this topic, unless you know you have nothing to worry about.
I have/had a blog on PCT preparation where trail food was one of the most important topics. Here is a collection of all my posts having to do with thru-hiker food:
Ultimately, my staple foods became:
– granola with whole milk powder
– bars and trail mix consisting of mixed nuts and M&Ms in equal amounts
– buckwheat and tuna doused in olive oil
I knew from my preparation that I was getting roughly 5000 calories and at least 100 g of protein a day. I was healthy the whole time and only lost a few pounds.Apr 8, 2010 at 9:38 am #1595685
thanks for the advise guys, im really getting a lot of help!
i think the clothes i bring will work. this is what i wore last july. running shorts, mountain hardware wicked light long sleeve shirt, montbell ex light down jacket, montbell UL wind shirt, long underwear bottoms, glove liners, beanie, and a MLD cuben poncho pared with cuben rain chaps. last summer the cold winds that came with the rain killed my legs so i think the chaps will make a big difference.
as far as food goes i got a nice menu that works for me. clif bars and trail mixes during the day and high calorie oatmeal for dinner. a little bland but in an environment like the colorado rockies, im not to worried about having luxurious meals. just enough to keep me moving.
but im always up for suggestions!
.maestro.Apr 8, 2010 at 10:02 am #1595694
Ross, if you haven't done so already then I would take a look at Andrew Skurka's website. He has gear lists from all three of his CT thru-hikes, as well as nutrition information. It is a quick read and may spark some ideas for you.
Various LD hikes:
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