South Platte Canyon, Colorado Trail Segment 1

Hiker’s High – Colorado Trail Day 2

July 2, 2017
Colorado Trail Segment 1, Bear Creek to South Platte Canyon, 8 miles
16.7 total miles

Sun blinked through the trees and into my tent. I tentatively stretched, testing the after effects of carrying my pack. And was surprised to find that I felt OK, just sluggish. All my limbs moved as expected, I did not feel like I’d been hit by a bus, and my shoulders felt fine. My right ankle was sore, though.

Crawling out, I saw that Bonnie had already gotten the food bags down and had eaten breakfast. I boiled water for my oatmeal and coffee, and felt more awake holding my little backpacker mug of steaming coffee. We were the last to leave Bear Creek. It took me forever to get packed and ready, whereas Bonnie was ready like bing-bang-boom.

Morning coffee on the Colorado Trail.
Breakfast through steamed up glasses

When I slung my backpack on for the first time that morning, I was surprised to find it seemed lighter. Apparently, I had beefed up overnight, or that single cup of coffee had distorted my reality. We headed off down the trail and for the first 20 minutes, I felt pretty groovy. Then I became more aware of pain in my right ankle, and the backpack got heavier.

But despite that, I was enjoying the hike. The trail from Bear Creek to South Platte Canyon was pretty, with dips and ascents through the trees. Bear Creek hugged the trail and sometimes crossed it.

Crossing Bear Creek on Colorado Trail segment 1.
Crossing Bear Creek

Eventually Bear Creek went off on its own and the trail continued steadily up in elevation by 1,400 feet. I discovered I had cell service and we checked in with my parents and Bonnie’s boyfriend. By the time we hit mile 7 for the day, I was ready to stop and was happy to see South Platte Canyon in the distance.

End of Colorado Trail segment 1, South Platte Canyon
Coming down to South Platte Canyon

As we started the descent to South Platte Canyon, we bumped into another hiker heading back up the hill to find cell service. His name was Michael, trail name Little Red, and he pulled off his baseball cap to show us why. He’d dyed his hair patriot red. Little Red had set up camp at South Platte Canyon the day before and taken a zero day, resting up from carrying his 75-pound pack. 75 pounds? And I was complaining about my pack?

My feet were sore and I was ready to stop. I had visions of camping along the river and maybe even jumping in. We hiked all the way down to South Platte Canyon and I was excited to see a pit toilet. But when I opened the door, I saw that the inside was heaped high with trash and it smelled awful. And, we found out that you aren’t allowed to camp by the river. So, we hiked back up the trail and looked for a campsite. Lots of other hikers had already set up camp, including some of the same campers from the night before at Bear Creek. After setting up camp at a relatively level spot, we put on our camp shoes, and went back down to the river to get water.

Camping South Platte Canyon Colorado Trail segment 1
Cozy communal campsite at South Platte Canyon

Back at camp, Bonnie and I both crawled into our tents to chill. I ate about half an edible and took something of a bath with waterless soap and wipes. And then…..Are the tent walls glowing? Why do I feel like giggling? Then I literally fell back on my sleeping pad and dozed for a couple of hours. When I woke up, Bonnie and our neighbors were chatting outside. I stuck my head out and kind of waved, feeling too beat to say much. I got out of my tent long enough to eat dinner and do my chores for the night, then hit the rack again.

See my Colorado Trail Planning Guide for complete details about planning your own trip!

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