Three reasons not to hike 500 miles through Colorado in old-timey gear

2 min. read
The Uncompahgre Wilderness in Colorado consists of gently rolling alpine tundra meadows, rugged, mountainous landscapes, and densely-forested canyons within the north-central San Juan Mountains. (Bureau of Land Management)

The Boulder Daily Camera has quite an interesting story about a couple of Boulder County guys who tried to hike 500 miles of the Colorado Trail in 1800s-style clothing and equipment.

I admire them for taking the exact opposite of the gear-fanatic ultra-light ultra-runner mentality that you so often see on the trails. Mistakes, however, were made.

The guys ultimately bailed out less than halfway through the journey.

Here were their biggest obstacles, as told to the Camera:

  1. 1800s shoes aren't so durable
  2. An unexpected campfire ban really cramped their frontier style
  3. Other hikers ruined the illusion

Problem No. 1 is solvable. Lewis and Clark walked across this entire country in some 1800s shoes. I'm not sure if they had better shoes or better feet.

Problem No. 2 was just bad luck. The Cold Springs Fire forced the ban. My opinion is that the best safeguard against this situation is to eat only biscuits and cans of beans. This applies to real life too.

Problem No. 3 – well, I can't really empathize. The gentlemen note that they felt "almost no immersion" due to all the tourists. The Colorado Trail probably isn't the place to go for isolation – and bringing a documentary crew along probably doesn't help either.

I get it, though.

Backpacking strips your world to your immediate surroundings. The objects you're carrying are keeping you alive, and they're your connection back to normal life.

What happens when you replace those objects? I bet it's a bit like time traveling. Go read the rest of that Camera article for more on that feeling.

I, meanwhile, will be roleplaying as a guy from 2006, because that's the last time I updated my gear.

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