I hadn’t thought that there was a greater feeling in all the world than finally reclining at the end of a physically tiring day. But, then, at the end of my first day on the Colorado Trail, I’ve made camp on a ridge. Reclining while exhausted and enjoying a 360-degree view is simply spectacular.
Lying here, waiting for sunset, I’m feeling grateful. There are plenty of people who go through this life without finding one thing that truly makes them joyous. I’ve found two. When I was in the Adirondacks for June and July, I’d surprised myself when I realized how I was both thrilled to be getting to hike and so excited to get back to civilization, where I could felt scenes from the journey.
Today didn’t feel so much like a new start as like a homecoming. I would never want to imply that anything about embarking on a long hike is blasé; it’s just that doing so feels familiar now. Or, at least, the first day processes do.
I was extremely appreciative that Andrea, a friend from my AmeriCorps year and a Denver transplant, volunteered to help me avoid a long morning of public transit and Uber and instead drove me to the trailhead. It was special to be sent off by a friend!
In my mind, the trek along a red dirt road through Waterton Canyon felt less like the first six miles of the CT and more like an approach trail. It brought to mind some of the most emotionally complex miles I’d ever walked, the 7.8 miles up Amicalola Falls five years ago.
So, I was ambling along, baking in the southwest sun and alternatively recalling the AT’s approach trail and the PCT’s first several hundred miles, through mountains that bore a striking resemblance to the hills I was seeing, when Colorado brought me careening back to the present. There, right along side the road, was a flock of big horn sheep!
Suddenly, this felt like a unique journey all its own. These mountains and meadows and rivers are all new to me. These are new critters and flowers and trees. Only 18 miles into the trail, I’m looking forward to getting to know them all.
Except the mountain lions. They’re more than welcome not to introduce themselves.