Daily Miles: 26.5
Total Miles: 26.5
We woke up at 5:20 this morning, as we weren’t completely confident that we could easily get an Uber organized (we’ve only used the service a few times and we were staying in a gated community in Denver). We checked the Uber app and it said a car would be expected in about 40 minutes. We figured that would give us enough time to get ready, so we hit the confirm button. About a minute later, we got a notification from Uber that our driver was expected to arrive in 4 minutes! Yikes! Luckily we had packed up everything last night, so we just quickly dressed and were out the door in about ten minutes. A bit of a rushed start to the day, but ultimately, it allowed us to start the trail by 6:20am, which was really nice.
The first 6.5 miles of the CT is a flat gravel road. It is part of Watertown Canyon which is under the control of Denver Water. Much of the road follows a river and has many picnic areas and outhouses. We saw quite a few people on this stretch including walkers, runners, bikers and even fishermen. It is obviously a heavily used area. The road walk was really pleasant with lush, green mountains all around. There is a herd of bighorn sheep in that area, but sadly we didn’t see any…they must have still been sleeping. Instead, we saw rabbits, a mule deer and geese just hanging out in the road.
As we walked, we realized that this is only the second trail (the Tahoe Rim Trail bring the first), where we have started the trail just the two of us. On all the other trails we’ve hiked, we have started with a friend or a group of hikers we met at a trail angel’s place.
After 6.5 miles, the CT started to look like a real trail. There were really nice switchbacks as we started our climb. There were quite a few mountain bikers on the trail which we weren’t used to. The last trail we hiked that had a lot of bikers was the Tahoe Rim Trail, which was three years ago.
We started seeing a few backpackers who were packing up and getting their day started. It’s hard to know if they are all thru-hiking or just out for the holiday weekend. We had lunch with a nice couple from MD, for whom this is their first backpacking trip. We had a really nice time talking with and wished them well. It is always inspiring to see people our age or older who are trying something new and totally out of their comfort zone.
About 16.5 miles into the day, SweetPea realized she had lost her extra water bladders (3 liters worth of extra water carrying capacity). Somewhere earlier in the day, they must have fallen out of the pocket she had put them in. Luckily, another hiker who started after us had picked them up, so she was able to get them back. It is always nice to see hikers looking out for each other.
The weather was so nice today…cool temps and overcast for the first half of the day. The trail felt quite easy, and thanks to the quick road miles at the beginning of the day, we were able get more miles in today than we had expected.
We had heard that Segment 2 (which we started hiking around 2pm) is a big burn area and notoriously hot and exposed. We were lucky with the cool temps, but we were also surprised by the long stretches of “in tact” forest we walked through. We felt like there was a lot of shade and a ton of really nice campsites in this stretch.
We stopped around 5pm to cook dinner. It was nice to have a longer break, where we could do some stretching and massage our feet. After an hour break, we headed out to get a few more miles in. Around 7:15pm, we found a nice stretch of pines and picked our camping spot for the night.
We are in our hammocks, ready for sleep at 8:30pm. Hopefully we’ll get a sound night of sleep. It usually takes a few nights before getting used to sleeping outside again, but it feels like it will be a warm night, which should help. We are both pretty beat from a long first day on the trail, but it felt so good to be hiking again and to be out in the woods again.