At the end of the month I will be returning to the Colorado Trail to hike the Collegiate Loop. The Collegiate Loop is a 160 mile loop around the Collegiate Peaks of Colorado and includes the Collegiate East route of the Colorado Trail as well as the Collegiate West Alternate. I plan to take a little over a week to hike it and I plan to include a few Sawatch 14ers to spice up the route.
As I prepare for this hike, I find myself getting lost in the memories I made last July. My tent has a red tinted stain on the bottom from the dirt near Durango and Silverton. My sleeping pad is dirty and crinkled from all the nights I fell asleep exhausted and covered in dirt. My cook pot is stained from my dehydrated meals that powered me though many miles. My backpack has a smell to it that I wish I could make into a candle. Going through my gear makes me both emotional and excited.
One year ago today I flew to Colorado to spend the night in Littleton before beginning my journey on the Colorado Trail. I was nervous, excited, and impatient for this adventure. I had meticulously reviewed my gear, counting each and every gram day after day. I had packed and unpacked my backpack to find the best way to load my gear. I sorted through my resupply boxes, counting the calories I had. I studied the data book like my life depended on it, and I watched every inspiring thru hiking film I could find. I said my goodbyes to Clean Slate and Double Dusty, who were both terrified and excited for me. I had an idea of what I was getting myself into. I had planned everything out and prepared as much as I could. I felt confident in myself and in my gear. I had no idea what this experience would become. The Colorado Trail beat me up, put me through the wringer, and spit me out the other side as a stronger, more confident woman (or a Bad Ass Girl if you will). I can only hope that the Collegiate Loop will do the same.