“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.
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!