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  1. #1

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    Hi,

    I'm in the U.K, been wanting to do the AT for ages but looking at possibly doing the CT next year either all of it or just a couple of weeks as a first proper trail experience and also it means less time to arrange off work etc. Plus I have a friend who lives in Denver which is handy for sorting mail drops, getting equipment delivered etc. Couple of questions -

    In terms of stove fuel is there an option that's best in terms of available in the towns?
    For someone experienced in camping although only in the U.K. and new to trails is there a direction that's better? Or a good section that would take a couple of weeks at an easy pace?

  2. #2

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    Coming from the UK you are coming from sea level...you are going to probably want to start from Denver and gradually get to elevation. Most people hike north to south (better to end on a high note in a pretty area like Durango). However the sections of the CT from Denver aren't the prettiest. You could pick a middle section, just be aware that the altitude in the middle may kick your butt for the first few days to a week.

  3. #3

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    Canister (propane) stoves have become the standard and to a large extent, the only legal option due to forest fire concerns.

    To be legal, a stove needs to have a shut off value, so alcohol and wood burners don't qualify. Technically, a white gas stove would qualify, but white gas is no longer commonly available since nearly everyone has switched to canisters.

    Water boils at a lower temperature at elevation, so many foods (pasta) take longer to cook. Factor that in when thinking about how much fuel to take.

    Speaking of elevation, people adapt to 10 to 14,000 feet differently. Some can have serious, life threating conditions when going from sea level to above 10K feet too quickly. It's fairly uncommon, but something to be aware of.

    The hike I did from Denver to Breckenridge last September didn't acclimate me very well for when I hit 10K feet near Breck. But I'm old and used to smoke a lot. I'm sure that was a big factor. Still, it takes most people 7 to 10 days to get reasonably well acclimated to elevation. I'd spend a few days in Denver, then head to Leadville and just hang around there for about a week, doing easy day hikes. Once you feel like you can breath again, then go for the big hike.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    What C. J. said. She knows.
    Perhaps you and your friend could go day hiking in Rocky Mountain National Park to help your acclimation. Denver, at 5,000' won't really prepare you for the high altitude on the trail.
    Good luck.
    Wayne


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    Maybe you've already hiked at elevation before and know your reactions?

    Acclimatizing isn't always that bad. I live at 300 ft elevation and was fine with 1 day in denver, a couple at 8,000 - 11,000 ft, then higher after that
    Same for myself and my wife this year in the sierras. We went from sea level to 6700 day 1, 10,500 day 2, 12,000 day 3 (then down a bit to make camp). The 12k pass was a bit harder than usual, but nothing that would make me wait out a week acclimatizing.

    Different for all though

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    Quote Originally Posted by thecornflake View Post
    Hi,

    I'm in the U.K, been wanting to do the AT for ages but looking at possibly doing the CT next year either all of it or just a couple of weeks as a first proper trail experience and also it means less time to arrange off work etc. Plus I have a friend who lives in Denver which is handy for sorting mail drops, getting equipment delivered etc. Couple of questions -

    In terms of stove fuel is there an option that's best in terms of available in the towns?
    For someone experienced in camping although only in the U.K. and new to trails is there a direction that's better? Or a good section that would take a couple of weeks at an easy pace?
    I really liked SOBO. That worked best for me as a low lander. The early miles get you ready for the elevation to come. As far as fuel, a canister stove (msr pocket tocket) worked well. Fuel was easy to find and worked in areas where fire bans were in place.

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    Registered User StubbleJumper's Avatar
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    Okay, I've hiked the CT, so I'll give you a few observations:

    Stoves:

    The easiest stove for Colorado is a canister stove. If you don't already own one, it's probably cheaper to buy one in America. You can find a modest stove and fuel in Denver at the REI store (it's a fabulous store!) or at Dick's Sporting Goods stores which are found in the suburbs. A basic popular stove with a shutoff (required when forest fire burning restrictions are in place) is the MSR Pocket Rocket (see https://www.dickssportinggoods.com/p...pcktrcktxxxcac ). These are similar to CampingGaz stoves in Europe, but they are better because the stove screws onto the canister. A half-pound fuel canister lasts me 10-14 suppers. On my last thru-hike in 2014, I saw fuel canisters in Breckenridge, Twin Lakes, Salida, Gunnison, and Silverton.


    Direction:

    It's easier to start in Denver because there's a major international airport, and as others have said, Denver is "only" 5,000 feet of altitude. You will slowly gain altitude for the next three or four days out of Denver, and for me that was fast enough. I live at about 200 feet of altitude, so on day 3 when I slept at 9,000 feet, I found that I was sucking air and struggling a bit on climbs. If you start in Durango, you'll be at 9,000 feet on the first day and 12,000 feet on day 2.

    The downside to hiking southbound is that Durango is a pain in the ass to get out of. There's only a small regional airport, and the bus service is both poor and complicated.

    Other observations:

    IMO, don't bother with maildrops. There are enough places to re-supply that you can get by with a maximum of 6 days of food at a time. On the trail, this is far more convenient because you are not constrained by the business hours of the local post office. If you show up at the post office 5 minutes after it closes on Saturday, you'll be waiting in town until 9:30 Monday morning to get your parcel. In contrast, grocery stores in the US are normally open 7 days a week.

    If you are hiking in July or August, be prepared to experience at least a couple of nights when the temperature will approach 0 degrees Celsius. That's a major difference compared to hiking in England or France, but it can get quite cold at night.

    If you are a typical pasty white English guy, be prepared for the sun exposure. If you do not have either sunscreen or long sleeves and pants, you will get cooked. Similarly, you need a hat and shades when hiking in Colorado due to the intense sun exposure.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    What time frame are you considering for your 2-3 weeks? Are you familiar with the environment you will be hiking through? Weather in particular for your chosen time.
    Wayne
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    Do yourself a favor....go during the fall...I did the Collegiate loop few years ago late September and attempted a sobo CT thru this July....HOT! I had to bail at breckenridge due to several issues but I'm hoping to go back next fall. If you only have a few weeks I'd say start in Durango so you hit the better parts. If your starting at Denver the first 64 miles to Kenosha pass were nothing I'd recommend other than getting acclimated.


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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Also investigate one way car rentals.
    Examples: Fly Denver. Drive Durango. Acclimating at stops along the way such as Leadville. Leave car in Durango. Hike north. Drive Salida to Denver. Fly home.
    Be advised: "Fall" in the Rockies can start the last week of August or first week of September. Flying into Denver on the Tuesday after our Labor Day (first Monday in September) holiday weekend avoids crowds and the weather is generally spectacular in September. Be prepared for a dusting of snow which melts quickly.
    Have fun.
    Wayne


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    I suggest you do a shake down hike, a thru hike of a few days(YES those are thru-hikes also!) before investing traveling all the way from where you live to the U.S. IMHO, I can find little reason, should you prep decently for the CT, that the CT can't be you first long thru-hike.

    https://pmags.com/colorado-trail-end-to-end-guide-2

    Still one of the best CT sources of info from a guy that lives and breathes virtually all types of backpacking. He lives in CO too.

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    Use your resources in Denver to assist with the resupplying. CT resupply is well documented.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    Use your resources in Denver to assist with the resupplying. CT resupply is well documented.
    Where and how does that help? Assuming that the Resources work weekdays, that only leaves weekends. Trying to get to the mountains on Friday afternoon and returning Sunday afternoon is a fate worse than death on a good day.
    Perhaps. Maybe. Use the resource for a head start in Leadville or Twin Lakes.
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    Not sure whats "easy pace" to you.

    I wouldnt come all the way to walk 150 miles of hot dry low elevation woods filled with beetle killed trees.

    Make time to do it, and it will likely be a bit past "easy pace". Might even be sorta hard.

    Resupply non issue when you hike 15-20 mpd. You only need a few.

    Long distance hiking isnt leisurely hiking, most of the time. Its making miles, rain, shine, snow, sleet, or hail, or dark of night. Not saying not enjoyable. Easy and enjoyable are two different things.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 09-27-2017 at 03:20.

  15. #15

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    thecornflake, I thru hiked the Colorado Trail from Denver to Durango this July in 31 days. For me it was such an incredible experience and far exceeded my expectations. I loved every single day of it and although I had hard days none were bad days. Everyone I met and talked to along the trail were so friendly. I live in Western Pennsylvania so I do not see mountains like the Rockies. From Waterton Canyon to Durango I was amazed with what I saw. Early in my hike when I'd talk to the locals about the incredible views I'd seen they would always say you haven't seen the best yet. I thought to myself how could it get better but it always did get better and better as I hiked towards Durango.

    So my advice to you is hike the whole trail and start from Denver. By doing so you'll give yourself time to adjust to the altitude. Myself I had no issues with altitude but everyone is different on how it may effect them. Also you having a friend in Denver makes it very easy to start from there. You could ship gear you can't take onto a plane such as trekking poles, tent pegs out to your friends place. Or like I did when I flew out, I put those items in my checked bag. Then all other hiking gear was in my ZPacks Arc Blast pack that I carried onto the plane.

    I mailed myself resupply packages to the hostels I was staying at via UPS, so I had no worries about post offices closing times. I did mail one resupply box via USPS to the Fairplay post office so as not to have to carry seven days worth of food the first week. Even though I had no problems getting a hitch to and from Fairplay, Jefferson would be a safer bet because its only five miles from the trailhead at Kenosha Pass. That being said your coming from the UK so shipping resupply packages would probably be expensive. You'll most likely want to buy your food in the towns along the way.

    I used a canister stove and had no problems getting fule canister in any of the towns I stopped at along the trail.

    If you do decide to thru hike the CT I highly recommend staying at the Bivi Hostel in Breckenridge. Its more like staying at a resort then a hostel. I also stayed at the Voyager Hostel in Twin Lakes and even though it didn't have running water it was still my favorite hostel. To me it had such a good vibe and the owners were great people as well. I also stayed at the Simple Lodge and Hostel in Salida, the Ravens Rest Hostel in Lake City, and the Blair Street Hostel in Silverton. I enjoyed my stay at those places as well.

    I hope you can do a thru hike next year and if you do good luck and happy trails.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    To be legal, a stove needs to have a shut off value, so alcohol and wood burners don't qualify. Technically, a white gas stove would qualify, but white gas is no longer commonly available since nearly everyone has switched to canisters.
    Can you source this? I've been unable to find much other than a REDDIT thread where it was explained and debunked. Not doubting just want to know as I cook with alcohol.

    **Though I did find this for RNMP: https://pmags.com/psa-alcohol-and-es...banned-in-rmnp
    Last edited by Uncle Joe; 09-27-2017 at 10:46.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Common sense and common knowledge.
    In the event of a government decreed ban on open flames and fires, ALL stoves used outdoors must have a positive shut off valve.
    Alcohol, Esbit, wood, etc. are therefore banned.
    Don't believe me? Google 2017 fire bans in Montana, Idaho, Washington, etc.
    Wayne


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  18. #18
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Joe View Post
    Can you source this? I've been unable to find much other than a REDDIT thread where it was explained and debunked. Not doubting just want to know as I cook with alcohol.
    Something I wrote earlier with pertinent links:

    In recent years, there have been bans on open fires in the backcountry during times of extreme fire dangers (From Oct 2015: Non-Approved fires: Campfires utilizing solid fuel that do not distribute the flame with a wick., Alcohol ultralight stoves, Wood “twig ultralight stoves ) With more wildfires happening esp here out West, the rules are getting stricter on what types of stoves to use. In many parts of Colorado in the summer of 2012, open flames were banned. This meant no campfires, wood burning stoves, solid fuel stoves and alcohol stoves. (It did not help that a fire was caused by a negligent alcohol stove user). These stoves also do not generally have Underwriters Lab designation and/or have no shut-off valve. These reasons are partially the cause for the restrictions, too.
    To quote the linked document’s text:

    Mechanical stoves and appliances fueled by bottled or liquid gas which allow the operator to control and extinguish the flame with a valve are permitted provided that such devices are approved by Underwriters Laboratory Inc”

    Also note that many places ban backcountry campfires outright and/or have restrictions (again, esp with extreme fire danger). Wood burning stoves may fall under this ban depending on what the local National Park unit or USFS/BLM or State Park office decides.

    To quote the letter above:

    “The only difference in legalities between a liquid/gas fuel stove or the wood burning stove is that during certain fire restrictions, the wood burning stove would not be allowed when regular campfires aren’t allowed. Just check the conditions/restrictions with the FS you before you go on your trip to make sure you have a stove you can use. This question comes up often during fire restrictions, and again, the wood burning stove is considered the same as a campfire during these dry times.

    (emphasis mine)
    Though there have been arguments over the logic of these bans, this arguing is academic. One thing to argue on a backpacking forum; another thing to argue with a ranger who can fine you!
    For all intents and purposes, the options for backpacking stove use during bans are white gas stoves and canister stoves. Or you can go stoveless.

    There are typically similar examples as we get into fire season. Notice the note about a stove needing a UL designation came from a Colorado land agency. Other Colorado counties that the CT actually passes through will have similar, or identical, verbiage.




    Last edited by Mags; 09-27-2017 at 12:04.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Uncle Joe View Post
    Can you source this? I've been unable to find much other than a REDDIT thread where it was explained and debunked. Not doubting just want to know as I cook with alcohol.

    **Though I did find this for RNMP: https://pmags.com/psa-alcohol-and-es...banned-in-rmnp
    Each county enacts its own bans, and has its own verbage.

    There is nothing to keep you from going to county websites and reading.

    For the challenged, heres definition of stove/appliance from jefferson county:


    Appliances such as fire pits, grills, camp stoves that burn liquid or gaseous fuels and can be shut off. This does not include any device that burns solid fuels such as wood or charcoal and which must be extinguished.
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 09-27-2017 at 12:41.

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    Registered User Venchka's Avatar
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    Thanks Paul. Clear as mud.
    The most responsible thing to do is carry a stove that is known to be permitted during times of fire danger.
    Wayne


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