When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. When life gives you a Colorado hike filled with tourists you just step to the side a lot, admire the colorful cotton t-shirts, try to guess people’s accents & location of origin, and smell the wildflowers. So this weekend’s plans went from Plan A (backpacking the Comanche-Venable Loop) to Plan B (day hike the Comanche-Venable Loop) to Plan C (nice easy day hike on the Herman Gulch Trail).
Our original plans for doing a shorter backpacking trip got derailed as I needed to be back earlier on Sunday. After that we spiraled ever towards the band of
backpackers slackers (as Augustine called us). I think all of us were particularly tired after another busy week in Colorado so we decided to sleep in and just hike the Herman Gulch trail. Lydia had done this hike twice on weekdays without me. I’ve driven past the trailhead not really noticing it hundreds of times, mostly to go snowboarding. So when we actually pulled in and saw a packed parking lot I was pretty surprised to say the least. I bet license plates from the majority of the US states were there…wouldn’t have been surprised to see Hawaiian plates.
On our last few hikes we’ve run into a few groups of people hiking, maybe 3-4 groups of people over 20 or so miles. This time we’d see 20 groups or more over 3-4 miles. It was an interesting change, but there’s a reason why so many people do this hike (other than it must be on TripAdvisor or one of the main touristy guide books right after visit Red Rocks amphitheater). The trail is part of the CDT (Continental Divide National Scenic Trail) which stretches some 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada. In less than 3.5 miles you get a good workout (almost 1,700 feet of eleveation), get great views of the divide, get to see a high alpine lake, and you can say you only have 3,996 miles left to complete the CDT.
We really enjoyed the hike and I’ll probably come back fairly soon. I’d love to be able to hike the CDT (through Colorado at least) and I’m sure we can make some great backpacking trips off of it now that I have National Geographic Topo! and can make my own maps. We had a great time talking with Augustine and Joanna and I think all of us (dogs included) enjoyed the lighter loads of a day hike coupled with the cooler weather from the storm that was rolling in (but never quite materialized into rain).
We started a little after 10am and made it to Herman Lake a little after noon. Had lunch at the lake as the storm came in and headed back down by 2pm.
Would you rather spend a day passing people on the trail or passing people in the aisles of one of those big box retail stores?