Well, that was hard.
But it was the kind of hike that I had hoped for: hard, scenic, and alone. I thought I knew Colorado, but there are so much mountains! My goal was to summit at least 100 peaks during my loop. The official result: I killed it!
148 13ers plus 6 14ers and 1,600 miles in 80 days (5 zeros included). Not too bad in my opinion.
However, I did earn myself a demerit for making one consequential mistake that sent me home for a week. That's a day I'm still trying to forget. But from the brink of a season ender, I came back though.
Overall, the hike was a success! So...
I sometimes have a hard time resisting a pretty face. As a result, I ended up taking a side trip to Vestal Basin. Because there's no easy way to loop the basin, I had to do an unpleasant bushwhack from the Vellecito. All that work just because I had to see the prettiest mountain in all of Colorado - Vestal Peak!
After bagging Peak 3 and the Trinities en route, I was finally where I wanted to be - standing beneath the awesome Wham Ridge of Vestal.
It had been quite some time since I last climbed in the Grenadier. And even though it's a repeat, I couldn't resist such a fun peak.
Wham! Bam! Damnnn! I did it again!
It's already been five years since my life took an unexpected direction. Five freaking years! Never did I imagine this would be my future. In the past, I had always done what I was supposed to do: undergraduate, law school, the office, aka the traditional life. But then the Colorado Trail happened.
The CT was my first long-distance trail. The trail where through hardships and mistakes I learned to become a thru-hiker. Now 20,000+ miles later, I'm back following my footsteps.
For the most part, the Colorado Loop avoids the CT. Purposely. Only for a few days do they overlap. A few days of nostalgia.
Walking down the same trail, no longer am I unsure about long-distance hiking. I have grown so much as a thru-hiker, and I have experienced so much from thru-hiking.
And it all started from that bold decision to take a chance and live the life I truly wanted.
It's a lazy habit I have, but it usually doesn't start until the closing of the hiking season. That time of the year when there's a lot more night than I need sleep. But when the trail forces me to post-up for a few hours mid-day, I might as well be comfortable and entertained.
There's nothing like catching an in-tent mantinee on top of a ridge during a thunderstorm. #justthruhikerthings
The grind is finally over, and now it's time for business! The serious hiking starts here at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, the location of the highest sand dunes in North America.
From the park, the route is quite simple. Abutting the sand dunes is the Sangres de Cristo Range aka the "Blood of Christ." I gain and run the ridge for a week and, hopefully, not get Harry Potter'd.
The traverse stays on the ridge the entire time except for skirting the Crestones, two 14ers in the way. The only thing is, 31 13ers are in the way instead! And if I ain't having enough fun yet, 15 more 13ers are within striking distance on the side.
Yep, it's a peak bagging extravaganza!