Unprecedented Preparations

Colorado Trail Preparations

Ziplocs, Ziplocs and more Ziplocs as we prepare for the Colorado Trail and package up bars, trail mix and granola

As the Colorado Trail quickly approaches, we are nailing down the final details, loading up on chocolate, and preparing like we never have before. I have spreadsheets detailing the exact ounces of every single item in our pack, more spreadsheets with daily caloric values of the food we’ll carry, and have already mapped out our resupply points for the entire trail. To put it shortly, we are uber-prepared.

If you don’t know it already, we’ll be starting the Colorado Trail, a 486-mile trek from Denver to Durango, on Monday, August 20th. We’re hoping Matt’s legs are recovered enough after the Leadville 100 mile running race to at least eek out 15 miles a day for those first few days, and then we’ll bring the average up to more like 20 to 25 miles a day. We’ve given ourselves twenty-five days to hike the entire trail, a generous timeline, and will be headed to Ohio for a week afterwards to celebrate the 90thbirthday of Matt’s grandmother, Annie Urbanski (from the Rooney clan, if you’re interested).

In terms of preparations, this is the most we’ve ever done to prepare for a trip, and it’s mainly because of the “sufferfests,” as another thru-hiker has called them, that we’ve experienced on the PCT and AT due to a lack of preparation. The few items we’ve focused on the most are proper gear, lighter packs and quality food.

Proper gear and lighter packs – These have sort of gone hand in hand as we’ve prepared for the trail. While we don’t want to break the bank on buying tons of new lightweight gear, we’ve been able to update some things at a minimal cost, and have splurged on very few items. We both picked up new lightweight (10-12 ounces) rain jackets, something we’ve severely lacked for years, and are using existing clothing otherwise.

Cooking – We opted for the gold standard of pots and bought the superlight Titanium cook pot for ourselves, yet went super cheap and spent a whopping $.50 on a can of cat food, which we’ll make a stove out of. Yes, it’s amazing that Fancy Feast cat food can also double for a camping stove that weighs .3 ounces, and we are excited to test it out on the trail.

Sleeping – Our mattress for the trail will be a three-foot foam pad, just 7 ounces, which we are using from cutting an existing 6 foot sleeping pad in half. This is a major test for us, as we’re used to longer sleeping pads that are double the weight. We’re also testing out the 2 pound tarp tent that was given to us by Caribou, another hiker, late on the AT last year. It hasn’t seen a whole lot of wind or rain, so this could go well, or very, very badly!

Food – Though I love chips, eating a Family sized bag of Lay’s on a daily basis was a little hard on my system last year on the AT. This time, we went for higher quality, calorically-dense food, like granola, dehydrated soy milk, dark chocolate, Lara bars, peanut butter, and trail mix for our snacks. Our meals will be couscous, rice, and angel hair pasta, with additives like dehydrated split pea soup and corn chowder, dehydrated veggies, dehydrated mashed potatoes, and our own chili mix of TVP, rice and dehydrated refried beans.

Yesterday, after weighing everything in, our packs look to weigh around 12-13 pounds to start, with no food or water, and we might be able to still shave off a half pound to another full pound from that. Our food should be about two pounds a day, with most of our resupply points being an average of four days apart, so about eight pounds of food at a time. Water will also add another 2 to 6 pounds, depending on the water availability for each segment.

That’s how it’s all shaping up. This is the most preparation we’ve ever done before, with weighing out each item of gear, and with buying all the food ahead of time. We’ll send six boxes of food ahead to ourselves at Post Offices along the way. Urbyville will still get updated as we’re on the trail and as we stop in towns, unless I get sick of the 8 ounce Kindle or the 4 ounce camera. We can’t wait to see how all these preparations pan out, because we’ll be using the results to measure our preparation for the CDT in 2013.

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