Months of planning, preparation, almost obsessive gear shopping, & training are are leading up to this one day. Sunday, May 9, 2021. Way back in February I had been excited to hear back from Leslie, one of the shuttlers from the Colorado Trail Foundation list, the first time I could feel that this dream journey might actually happen. She could meet me at Little Scraggy Trailhead at the end of segment 2 where I would leave my truck, and drop me at northern terminus at Waterton Canyon.
I’ve seen lots of commentary from other hikers that the first 100 miles of through the foothills from Denver towards the more scenic higher elevations, beginning with a 6-mile dirt road walk up Waterton Canyon, is kind of boring and uninspiring. Not so for me, as I remember riding bikes there with my friends as a kid, probably at 10 or 11 years old, from my childhood home in Littleton to Waterton Canyon. At one point I had accidently dropped my dad’s tackle box with all his favorite fishing gear into the rushing South Platte river, and I still don’t know how a managed to ride my bike there with that big tackle box in tow. I don’t remember much else, other than always wondering what was up that mysterious canyon. Then there’s the little town of Bailey, where my childhood friends Pat & Kerry’s folks had a lodge for a time, where I again don’t remember much other than feeling happy when we went there. We often took family summer vacations to Lake City, which is up way the trail, and I still have nice memories of riding down Highway 285 from Denver at night with my folks and seeing that lighted cross on the mountainside. And then being awed by the vastness and expansive views of South Park. I hadn’t been through that 285 corridor since I was a kid, probably 50 years or more ago, until I drove through Pine to make sure I could find Little Scraggy Trailhead a couple weeks prior to my hike. It felt absolutely magical to be back there, and I when I walked to the trail sign, “Colorado Trail No.1776” from the Little Scraggy parking lot I truly felt that I was meant to hike the Colorado Trail. That this journey would put together the times and pieces of my life.