“I’m 69 years old, but this isn’t the first long hike I have done. A couple of years ago I hiked across the Pyrenees in Europe on the Haute Route. I started with my feet in the Atlantic ocean and followed the spine of the Pyrenees until I put my feet in the Mediterranean Sea. That was about 500 miles, too. There were a lot of people on that trail doing smaller loops, but I only met five people who were doing the whole thing. But, as you go along, you don’t meet everybody. Of course, I go pretty slow, so a lot of people pass me by.
There are refugios along the way of the Haute Route, but I still carried a tent because I was too slow to hit the refugios every night. If I hit a refugio in the middle of the day, I stopped and got a ham sandwich and a coffee. If I got to a refugio in the evening, I would usually camp outside and pay for their meal, which was big! That was good, because I needed the calories. If I wasn’t near a refugio, I just ate bread and cheese and salami. It was a lot of fun.
So, I figured, how much longer can I do this? I live in Colorado. I just thought I should see a more of my own backyard. That’s why I’m here on The Colorado Trail. I love it. I’ll love it even more, of course, when I get on top of this pass!
I haven’t had any epiphanies. It’s just life. I’m not changing the world. The world’s not changing me. I’m just having my life. I love the wilderness. I love being solo. I love the trees and the flowers. I has been a really great summer for flowers. It’s not an epiphany. It’s just another day in my awesome life!
There is something about doing this solo that just lights my fire. As a 69-year-old female, I was raised to think you needed a man in your life. A man is going to do the hard things, and take care of you, and blah, blah, blah. I always sort of bucked the current on that. I’ve been married twice, and I don’t do marriage very well. (Well, I can see why!) But for me to be out here and to do 500 miles on my own, without any help from anyone else, and at my age, is just a joy. Maybe that is my epiphany. It is exciting to me. I never thought I would do this kind of thing when I was 69.
I have grandkids, but kids these days are different. They aren’t much interested in the out-of-doors. I tried to get my oldest grandchild to go hiking in New Zealand with me last year. I gave him every incentive in the world to go with me, but he wasn’t having it. My youngest grandchild, a 15 year-old, is getting his black belt in karate soon. This is why I am hurrying now. I have to finish this trail so I can get home to celebrate that accomplishment. I was going to do this trail in eight weeks, but because of other commitments, I only have six weeks to do it. It looks like I’m going to make it.
I haven’t quite been able to master the really lightweight stuff. There are certain things I need. For example, I need to be warm at night, so my sleeping bag is a little heavier, and I have a bigger sleeping pad. But, after that, I’ve sort of paired down. This pack is designed so that half the weight is in the back and half is in the front. So, it’s not like I have added extra weight by putting this on the front. Most people’s packs go up above their heads. But that stuff is up front here on my pack. This is called an Aarn pack and it was designed by a guy in New Zealand. That’s where I bought it. I just love it. I love the whole system. It puts the things I need, my camera, snacks, etc. right up here where I can find them easily.”