COLORADO TRAIL, CO

Our first taste of wild America! Colorado was high on our list as a great state for the outdoors, and that’s exactly what we found. The people we met were filled with a love for being active, going hiking and white-water rafting as soon as they’d finish work, or simply off wild camping for a night or two at the weekend. And why not? Colorado boasts incredible landscapes; dramatic mountains (many over 14, 000 feet) decorated with Alpine flowers, which lead down to huge empty valleys.

There is almost a ‘Wild West’ feel to some of the smaller towns here, surrounded by barren plains and cacti. Probably because of this emptiness, Coloradans were most open to hitchhiking. We never had to wait more than 10 minutes for a car to stop, and learnt that the best ones would have a roof rack and tired people inside.

We spent a week in mid June on the Colorado Trail, a wonderful 500-mile long-distance hike which we didn’t even know existed until a couple of days before! We started at the mountain town of Frisco and headed through beautiful ski country towards Durango, the end point of the trail. The days were long and filled with the smell of pine forests and warm meadows, but the nights were shockingly cold, with temperatures dropping to below 5°C degrees at times! Alas alack, our biggest mishap during the trail happened on the 7th day, forcing us to end the trail near Buena Vista, which actually turned out to be one of our favourite spots of the whole trip.

As we were standing in the rain at a campsite just off the path, exhausted and bedraggled after a day of walking, we realised with sinking hearts that we’d just left our tent in a car that had given us a 5-minute hitch to said campsite from the trailhead. We didn’t have their contact number, so there was no way getting back our home. What a low point! We sat sadly by the campsite toilets for a couple of hours, unsure what to do but warmed by the kindness of fellow campers who would stop and ask us what was wrong and if they could do anything. Finally, a lovely family from Durango offered us one of their tents for the night, and even cooked us breakfast the next day before we hitched into Buena Vista to buy a new tent!

This was just one example of the unbelievable kindness we encountered during our trip, turning the few bad situations we had into wonderful memorable experiences.

Words by Lamorna Manning