I'm typing this from my balcony in my 1-bedroom apartment, listening to the constant drone of the air conditioning units of my neighbours, and keeping an eye on my 1yr old cat, Timber, who is recovering from surgery. Barley, my other cat, is sprawled out just inside the sliding doors, after giving us both a proper and very vocal greeting. As usual these days, I'm thinking about the Colorado Trail.
To say that I've been a little bit obsessed with it for the past few weeks would be an understatement, but it's not really a new idea. About 3.5 years ago, I drove from Pasadena, CA to Boulder, CO, to start my new job. For 4 days I had zero responsibility except getting myself from A to B, and nothing on my keyring except my car keys. I stopped off at most of the National Parks on the way, and it felt like every single turn held a new and stunningly beautiful landscape, from the stark desert in California and Nevada through the fiery rock formations of Utah, and finally into the lush mountains of Colorado, which captured my heart almost immediately. That trip was one of the best things I've ever done for myself, and that feeling of liberation, self-reliance, and slowing down to exist in nature is something that I feel as a deep yearning in my chest every time I think about it.
Those feelings I had as I first drove across the Colorado Rockies have since deepened into a deep love for this place. If you've never visited Colorado then I genuinely don't know how to put the feeling and spectacle of the mountains into words. They're both majestic and humble; the sky and the landscape are enormous, but somehow never make me feel small. The views and the wildlife still take my breath away, and at least once on every hike I'm stopped dead in my tracks by a stunning new sight in front of me that I can never quite capture with a picture, no matter how hard and how long I try. The snowfall in winter brings a silence and beauty that feels like a tide of peace washing over me, and the power of the storms that roll through these mountains on an almost daily basis through the summer is truly awe-inspiring and humbling.
In stark contrast to that is my life right now, which has been a bit of a shit-show for the past couple of years. In the middle of a divorce, I found myself in a 1-bed apartment near the mall, with most of the stuff from the 2200 sqft home my soon-to-be-ex-wife and I bought packed into the 800 sqft around me. My cat, Timber, has had major ongoing medical issues for the past 10 months that culminated in major surgery, and my job has been a high-stress rollercoaster ever since I was given my own department about 18 months ago. I can't seem to settle into real productivity at work, and I'm not sleeping well because I feel restless for something, even though I'm not sure what. I'm fretting over constantly being attached to my email and the internet. I find myself mindlessly scrolling through Facebook, Medium, news sites, hoping that anything will satisfy a craving for something I can't put my finger on. Also, the political landscape. Nuff said.
All of it seems to have come to a head, and I feel a little bit broken. To be clear, it's not all bad: I'm in a new relationship with a wonderful woman, who I love to the moon and back, and who is genuinely good for me. I *love* my job, truly, and I feel beyond lucky that I get to work at my organization with so many wonderful and highly competent people. And still, every time I look at the mountains, my chest wants to leap out of my body as if it's saying "Yes! There! That's where we need to be!"
So I've decided to stop and listen. I'm not really sure when I started to take the idea of doing a thru-hike seriously; I'd originally thought about doing the PCT or the CDT (there was no chance of doing the AT - I hate humidity and bugs drive me to distraction) but given that I do love my job and have zero desire to leave it, there's really no way for me to do a thru-hike that takes 6 months or more. So instead I started to take a look at shorter options. A friend of mine posted some pics of a segment hike she'd done on the CT, and it became crashingly obvious that this was the best option. My love for Colorado, combined with the facts that I'm reasonably acclimated to the altitude, it's right on my doorstep, and I can probably wrangle 6 weeks of paid vacation from work (with a bit of pre-planning) makes it a complete no-brainer of an option.
So planning has begun for a year from now. This blog is really for me, to record my planning and my trip, but if it helps other people get out into nature too, I'm 100% all for that.
Til next time!