“This is my first time backpacking. I’m a city person. I spent one night of my life outside, when I was a kid. A year or so ago, I went out to Tennessee, the Smoky Mountains. And I kept seeing this sign for the Appalachian Trail, and it was like, what is this? I looked it up and saw it was this long trail and I thought, you know, I’d like to do that. I have no idea why hiking appeals to me. But, I went home and starting watching videos of people going on long hikes. I don’t really have 5-6 months of free time, so eventually I decided on The Colorado Trail as something I might be able to do. I have no real idea what I am doing out here. I’m afraid of lightning, mountain lions, and bears. I can’t sleep at night because of all the strange sounds outside my tent.
Blackhawk is one of over 60 “voices” you will hear in my new book, Voices of The Colorado Trail. His interview continues below his picture.
I heard Waterton Canyon was closed because of bear activity, so I decided to take an alternate route. I didn’t get to Roxborough State Park until late in the afternoon because the taxi driver wouldn’t drive into Park headquarters on the dirt road. So I walked the 2.5 miles from the entrance. Then the lady at the Visitor Center tells me I probably shouldn’t start at 3PM because they were expecting a thunderstorm. Great, I’m really afraid of lightning. But, I wasn’t going to walk back out just to get a taxi, so I just put my rain jacket on and left. The first trail sign I see tells me mountain lions are in the area and what to do if I am attacked by a mountain lion. Of course, it’s raining and raining. But, I see a day hiker out there with no shirt on, and I think he must know what he’s doing, so I just walked on.
I got to Lenny’s Rest about 7PM and I didn’t know if I should camp there or not. I read the plaque and discovered this guy Lenny was an Eagle Scout, but he was dead. Was this a dangerous place? Was he killed here? The plaque said he was killed in the outdoors. I didn’t know, so I decided to go to the next camping spot.
Of course it was getting dark, so I put my headlamp on and started walking. There was something shiny in the middle of the trail and I didn’t know what it was. When I got close to it, I saw it was a bird. I didn’t know what to do. Finally, it flew up right in front I’m my face and I saw it was a small owl. I had never seen anything like that. I finally made camp and spent most of the night wondering what I had gotten myself into.
I’m really having trouble sleeping. So I get up late, which means I get into camp late. And I’m tired. I don’t feel like fixing dinner. I’ve just been going to bed, then I wake up at 2AM with all these strange noises. Two nights ago I finally figured out this ‘swish, swish’ I was hearing was the wind. Then, last night, I hear what I thought were dogs barking, but not grown dogs, puppies, sort of yelping. Then, I thought, my God, are those coyotes! I saw this movie one time where coyotes were tearing someone to pieces. I started breathing real fast. It took me a long time to calm down and get my breathing under control. I didn’t get up too early this morning.
I do feel like I’m getting a little better. I know most of this fear is in my mind and isn’t real. But, I was glad to get out of that dense forest back there and into this grassy area where I can see a little better what’s around me. I just don’t want to open my tent and see something. That’s another thing. I was walking along earlier today and all of a sudden I saw a movment on the side of the trail. It was a deer. He was just standing there, very close to me. And I did not know he was there! If he hadn’t moved I would never have known he was there. You know, what else am I missing!?
My pack is too heavy, too. I put a lot of stuff in it, because I really didn’t know what to expect. I have the Data Book, the Map Book, and the Trail Guide with me. Plus, I have a novel with me that I’m pretty sure I’m always going to be too tired to read. I’ve got way too much food! I’ve got like two lighters, storm proof matches, a magnesium fire stick. I’m looking at this and I’m thinking, I don’t have any idea how to start a fire with this stick. I don’t need storm proof matches, because I’m not getting out of my tent if it’s storming! I’m going to send some of this back home when I get to Breckenridge. I’m definitely sending home most of my library. The more stuff I can get rid of the better.
I went to REI to get my gear. I wanted a Sawyer filter, like I see you have, but the salesman said no, I needed this big pump filter. And, he insisted I needed to wear boots. But, everyone I see out here, almost, are wearing trail runners. If I do this again, I’m going to have to buy all new stuff!