You rise at 6 am to dress for hiking the first segment of the Colorado Trail. You laid out your clothes the night before and selected a slew of shirts, extra socks and even multiple hats to make your final dress determination at the trail head. You make a ham and cheese sandwich and grab a bag of baby carrots for trail food, and stuff it in your pack with clothes, sunscreen and two bottles of Gatorade Perform 02. You’re out the door and at Vics by 6:30 am for a large cup of half decaf, half real deal for the drive to Sedalia.
You drive about 10 miles west of Sedalia on Hwy 67 to the Indian Creek Trail Head, where your trail guide A Lo Hawk is waiting for you after having camped the night out there. You spend 45 minutes shuffling a car to the end of the hike, and launch at 3 minutes before 9 am. A Lo Hawk, who in many ways is more of a spiritual guide than trail guide, takes the lead. You follow more as if chasing the wind than anything corporeal. Your expectation is to run as much as the first half of the 16 mile trail, and walk the rest. But that plan is fluid and will be determined by the terrain and elevation. You warm up and quickly fall into a fast pace because the trail is noticeably downhill. Soon you’re flying effortlessly down the single track, and recalling how this trail reminds you of the time you spent regularly running an inner city greenbelt 23 years earlier. You wonder if this trail will fall downward forever and know that you’ll complete it much earlier than planned if the drop continues.
All downhills end with a corresponding uphill, and this experience is no different. A Lo Hawk gradually, smoothly shifts gears to maintain cadence as the slope increases and you near the crest. He talks of trail ultras and the concept of continuum – the notion that each segment, the runs, the walks, and the sit down rests, all comprise equal experiences in your enjoyment of the CT. As the rise steepens, you look forward to the walking component of the continuum.
A Lo Hawk eventually glides into a walk and you take his picture. You’ve completed the first quarter of the first segment of the CT. You don’t know that the quarter metaphor will add up mathematically in terms of today’s hike/run having 4 stops or 4 discrete segments; but you’re thinking more in terms of running an interval track workout of quarter miles. Such workouts might consist of 6 or 8 quarters, and for whatever reason, you think today’s run might be something like an interval workout. You’re flexible enough in your use of metaphors to apply the term to the notion of having just completed a quarter of the trail. Technically, your first stop came after only 2 or 3 memorable miles – so only an eighth of the trail. And so far, your gear choice of two layers of thin, high tech shirts – one a red long-sleeve Under Armour jersey, and the second your new crimson red Boulder Spring Half Marathon top – has kept you comfortable. The air is still chilly but the sun is bright and the wind nominal. You think about taking the lead for the second quarter.