Sometimes I Feel Like an Astronaut

Notes from the Colorado Trail, submitted by Lane Early

I write from the Gunnison Public Library and I'm eager to get some ice cream and hit the trail. Town is always a welcome and exciting respite, but it's a great feeling once you are resupplied and back to hiking in the mountains. I sit at mile 302 of 485, and this will be one of my last entries, as I will resupply only once more before I arrive in Durango.

The trail has been awesome!.

The trail condition and maintenance are unrivaled as far as I've seen. It's all smooth, wide packed dirt, and the long climbs get you to some of the most beautiful vistas in world. As I continue to hike into the more remote sections of the trail, trash seems to have become less of an issue. I definitely still see it all the time and everywhere, just not as much. I think there is much more individual responsibility to do the right thing when there are less people around, because there is no one to pick up after you.

Last week at the end of a long day, I came across a group of Colorado Trail volunteers who were building some water diversions on the trail. Work was done for the day and everyone was hanging around, talking about all things outdoorsy, and waiting for dinner. The head honcho was a man named Bill and he invited me and another hiker to an excellent dinner of pork'n'beans, rice, salad, and cake. There were around 12 other volunteers from all over the country who were all excited to lend a hand. It's nice to know that there are people like this. If it weren't for the help of strangers, volunteers, and the services in the small, mountain tows along the way, long-distance hiking would not be possible.

Some random thoughts:

Sometimes I feel like an astronaut out here due to my slow, controlled movements, Vader-esque breathing and big floppy Croc moon boots.

The Aspen groves out here are amazing. The effects of walking through a grove are mesmerizing; the gaps between the tall, skinny white trunks are filled with more trunks, and between those trunks are even more, and so on into infinity. You can peer through the grove as far as the eye can see but at the same time you are trapped inside of it. It's almost like walking through a house of mirrors. A grove of Aspen trees is really just one large colony of trees. The root system of the colony outlasts any individual tree and the colony system can live for thousands of years.

No amount of money, sex, or power…

can acquire the feeling of a cool breeze coming over the ridgeline after a long climb. None of the Caesars, Pharaohs or Kings that have ever reigned could understand the pleasure of taking your pack off, sitting on a rock and drinking cold spring water unless they earned it through hard work and some sweat.

That's it for now. Look for another update in a week or so, and then I'll be in the final stretch.

We come from the land of ice and snow,
From the midnight sun where the hot springs flow.
Hammer of the Gods will drive our ships to new lands,
To fight the horde, singing and crying:
Valhalla, I am coming!