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  1. #1
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    Default Optimal fall thru hike start date?

    Hoping to go back and redo the CT since having to bail last July due to pup getting hurt. Really enjoyed the Collegiate loop late September the previous year so thinking Iíd like to start at WC either the week of or week after Labor Day...would like to catch the fall colors as well as bugling elk......


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    I personally would start right after labor day to minimize the likelihood of fresh snow fall in the San Juans. Good chance you'll get one down there in late September, should not be a big deal though. But once you ooze into October, all bets are off....

    One thing I would not do is to start LD weekend itself on Friday/Saturday as the mountain bike traffic in sections 2-3 should be horrible during the weekend. Those silly guys come screaming around blind corners on that loose gravel that's prevalent in those sections, my wife had a couple close calls a couple years ago.

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I personally would start right after labor day to minimize the likelihood of fresh snow fall in the San Juans. Good chance you'll get one down there in late September, should not be a big deal though. But once you ooze into October, all bets are off....

    One thing I would not do is to start LD weekend itself on Friday/Saturday as the mountain bike traffic in sections 2-3 should be horrible during the weekend. Those silly guys come screaming around blind corners on that loose gravel that's prevalent in those sections, my wife had a couple close calls a couple years ago.
    Sounds good, definitely plan on a mid week start...


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    Registered User colorado_rob's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    Sounds good, definitely plan on a mid week start...
    Yeah, maybe start Wednesday.... that way you won't be in the bike-popular section 6 (5-ish days into your hike) the next weekend either. I might be over thinking this.....

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    Why rehike the part you did last yr?
    You already know its hot, dry, and lackluster for the CT.

    It aint changed in a yr.

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    Watch the fire activity. Fires in May are not a good sign.
    We all get hung up on favorite places. Been there. Done that. However. Thereís a whole other world out there.
    On a related note: I see Salida getting a lot of mention here. We had a nice lunch stop in Buena Vista last month. I havenít looked at a map, but I wouldnít bypass Buena Vista to get to Salida.
    Have a great trip!
    Wayne

  7. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by colorado_rob View Post
    I personally would start right after labor day to minimize the likelihood of fresh snow fall in the San Juans. Good chance you'll get one down there in late September, should not be a big deal though. But once you ooze into October, all bets are off....
    One thing I would not do is to start LD weekend itself on Friday/Saturday as the mountain bike traffic in sections 2-3 should be horrible during the weekend. Those silly guys come screaming around blind corners on that loose gravel that's prevalent in those sections, my wife had a couple close calls a couple years ago.
    I did section 2 right on Labor day weekend when I went out there 2 years ago. The MB traffic was insane. Only nearly got run over once while going up a blind switchback.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Why rehike the part you did last yr?
    You already know its hot, dry, and lackluster for the CT.

    It aint changed in a yr.
    Yea....I know. I keep going back in forth about just starting at Breckenridge but the lack of acclimation concerns me a little since I live at sea level. Actually thought about just doing Breck to TL then hitch to Salida and pick up at monarch pass south as already did CL but keep falling back to just redo the whole trail....


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    Quote Originally Posted by Venchka View Post
    Watch the fire activity. Fires in May are not a good sign.
    We all get hung up on favorite places. Been there. Done that. However. Thereís a whole other world out there.
    On a related note: I see Salida getting a lot of mention here. We had a nice lunch stop in Buena Vista last month. I havenít looked at a map, but I wouldnít bypass Buena Vista to get to Salida.
    Have a great trip!
    Wayne
    Yep I ate lunch in BV when did the CL. Nice lil town but wouldnít be convenient from CW and liked Salida better.


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  10. #10
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    Starting in September, the only really hot time will be in Waterton canyon and a bit of section 2. Time it right and you can avoid that heat, or just suck it up, ain't that bad in September. Watch your water sources though carefully...

    This assumes you do want to start at Waterton, for the acclimation thing, important for some.

    MW and Venchka have good points, so if you decide to risk the acclimation thing (maybe a couple of day hikes, camping/sleeping at Kenosha pass at 10K?), and if you do Break->Durango (or Monarch->Durango), you could add a nice San Juan loop, lots of options there, more time spent in premium territory.

    BV is cool, but yeah, Salida is slightly better, IMHO. Think Elevation Brewery! One of our faves.

    Enjoy! Slight chance we'll see you out there, my wife and I just might do Break->Durango starting mid Sept, or reverse of that. Depends on when I get bored on the PCT.

  11. #11

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    There are advantages to starting a September CT thru-hike in Durango soon after Labor Day. You hike the San Juans in early September rather than the more cold-prone late-September. You are less likely to run into truly hot days in sections 2 and 1 in late September as opposed to early September. You would be starting out hiking trail you have not hiked before and by the time you got to Breckenridge you could then decide whether continuing on and completing a thru-hike was important to you or not.

    If you are worried about going to high elevation too quickly consider this. From previous posts of yours I have concluded you are a more fit and athletic hiker than 58-year-old me. I was able in the last few years to do an eleven day hike in the San Juans coming straight from low elevation Iowa. And I lived to tell the tale. I think you likely could handle the elevation if you just avoid trying to do big miles your first few days.
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    Nebo dont have to be hard to acclimate...
    Day -1 denver 5000'
    Day 0 durango 7000'
    Day 1 camp @475, 10 mi ,9400'
    Day 2 camp @455, 20 mi 11,120

    Just keep day 1 short , and the nightly progression is reasonable for someone with no history of issues.

    And then theres diamox as well
    Last edited by MuddyWaters; 06-05-2018 at 19:18.

  13. #13
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    CR offered useful info.


    Optimal fall start date is specific to you(MPD avg, etc), what you want to accomplish, and are willing to be ready for.


    A few yrs back wanted to fit in a last min 3-4 wk early fall hike in CO after coming off about 3K of hiking elsewhere. Went home for two wks. Coming from near sea level in Toms River NJ did an inside out CT flip flop. Started in Salida(Monarch Pass) choosing SOBO to Durango to get the highest elev out of the way first and bag several 14 ers along the way. Hitched(long 2 days) back to Salida going NOBO to WC with more peak bagging. Really dilly dallied. Finished, if I recall, Oct 23 or sometime in the last wk of Oct. Got light snow a few days with one snowfall not fully burning off until two days time. Atop Mt Massive and Mt Elbert the temps read 6* and 4* respectively with the windchill much lower. There were some near single digit temps at night attempting to sleep in a 20* down quilt and bivy sack. Pushed the limits of the sleep system. No one was on the trail other than a rampage of very cool MBers I hung with for an hr the first day at Monarch Crest and the rainy day going into Durango. I may have been the last one finishing a CT thru that yr.

    There are spots you can camp going Denver bound as you enter the burn area(an area I'd guess most blow through as fast as possible) after and before the fire station that at night you can see all of Denver's lit skyline within a Whitney Portal like(ish) framework. Gorgeous. I got it all you're after. Within a colonnade of sunlit Aspen bark, like walking down the aisle of Notre Dame cathedral, but better, the brightest butter colored Aspen leaves littered the trail falling like large flakes of gold leaf the second part of the flip flop near Bailey and near Kenosha Pass. It was like looking into a pirate's chest of bright beaming gold Doubloons ala Pulp Fiction style. GORGEOUS! Heard and saw some elk near Kenosha Pass CS; great CS: NOT the KP FS CG. The other side of the pass near small brook. Two days after the finish CO got its first real snowfall in the higher elevations of the CT that didnt burn off. Hung in Denver for almost a wk after at two hiker friend's house. GREAT trip! I was a bit fortunate with the weather not getting dumped on.


    If you're repeating a bailed CT thru I strongly second Mag's suggestion(Paul has never steered me wrong) and take in Lost Creek Wilderness more and perhaps Roxborough. LCW has a LOT of neat stuff. The best of it is NOT on the official CT! Both those alternates are different and IMHO superior to the official lower elev CT route in LCW and doing the WC gravel road. One can make a hardcore alternate of summitting Mt Elbert crossing over to the summit of Mt Massive and coming back to the official CT in either CT direction. Weather has to cooperate though if you're pushing the window. Keep an eye on it as you proceed.

  14. #14

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    For me, starting at Waterton didn't really acclimate me to elevation. It took me forever to cross Georgia Pass. Take one step, stop and take several deep breaths, take one step... (I did find a nice pocket knife along the side of the trail during one of my frequent breathing stops)

    I'd also like to go back and give the CT another go. But this time I think I'd go to Leadville and spend a week there doing day hikes before trying anything serious. Would also need to get my pack weight much lower. I probably had close to 30 pounds leaving Waterton.
    The AT - It has it's ups and downs...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Dogwood View Post
    CR offered useful info.


    Optimal fall start date is specific to you(MPD avg, etc), what you want to accomplish, and are willing to be ready for.


    A few yrs back wanted to fit in a last min 3-4 wk early fall hike in CO after coming off about 3K of hiking elsewhere. Went home for two wks. Coming from near sea level in Toms River NJ did an inside out CT flip flop. Started in Salida(Monarch Pass) choosing SOBO to Durango to get the highest elev out of the way first and bag several 14 ers along the way. Hitched(long 2 days) back to Salida going NOBO to WC with more peak bagging. Really dilly dallied. Finished, if I recall, Oct 23 or sometime in the last wk of Oct. Got light snow a few days with one snowfall not fully burning off until two days time. Atop Mt Massive and Mt Elbert the temps read 6* and 4* respectively with the windchill much lower. There were some near single digit temps at night attempting to sleep in a 20* down quilt and bivy sack. Pushed the limits of the sleep system. No one was on the trail other than a rampage of very cool MBers I hung with for an hr the first day at Monarch Crest and the rainy day going into Durango. I may have been the last one finishing a CT thru that yr.

    There are spots you can camp going Denver bound as you enter the burn area(an area I'd guess most blow through as fast as possible) after and before the fire station that at night you can see all of Denver's lit skyline within a Whitney Portal like(ish) framework. Gorgeous. I got it all you're after. Within a colonnade of sunlit Aspen bark, like walking down the aisle of Notre Dame cathedral, but better, the brightest butter colored Aspen leaves littered the trail falling like large flakes of gold leaf the second part of the flip flop near Bailey and near Kenosha Pass. It was like looking into a pirate's chest of bright beaming gold Doubloons ala Pulp Fiction style. GORGEOUS! Heard and saw some elk near Kenosha Pass CS; great CS: NOT the KP FS CG. The other side of the pass near small brook. Two days after the finish CO got its first real snowfall in the higher elevations of the CT that didnt burn off. Hung in Denver for almost a wk after at two hiker friend's house. GREAT trip! I was a bit fortunate with the weather not getting dumped on.


    If you're repeating a bailed CT thru I strongly second Mag's suggestion(Paul has never steered me wrong) and take in Lost Creek Wilderness more and perhaps Roxborough. LCW has a LOT of neat stuff. The best of it is NOT on the official CT! Both those alternates are different and IMHO superior to the official lower elev CT route in LCW and doing the WC gravel road. One can make a hardcore alternate of summitting Mt Elbert crossing over to the summit of Mt Massive and coming back to the official CT in either CT direction. Weather has to cooperate though if you're pushing the window. Keep an eye on it as you proceed.
    Great info as usual....One day Iíll have time to take a leisurely 3k mile walk! Iíll likely only have 23-24 days due to kids and work so doubt Iíll have any time for off trail exploration as Iím not a marathon hiker....A 20 mpd avg will be a push for me especially given the shorter days....Logistics into Durango seem tougher and $$$. I started at IC last time with the pup so WC would likely be my choice as I could hit trail same day as flights get in Denver about 11am. I really like the looks of mags LC alternate just not sure if I could swing it with my time restrictions.




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    Quote Originally Posted by Slo-go'en View Post
    For me, starting at Waterton didn't really acclimate me to elevation. It took me forever to cross Georgia Pass. Take one step, stop and take several deep breaths, take one step... (I did find a nice pocket knife along the side of the trail during one of my frequent breathing stops)

    I'd also like to go back and give the CT another go. But this time I think I'd go to Leadville and spend a week there doing day hikes before trying anything serious. Would also need to get my pack weight much lower. I probably had close to 30 pounds leaving Waterton.
    I didnít have any real altitude issues other than short of breath on the climbs first few days. I had a fairly light pack until I added a 20lb dog on top! Made a huge difference!


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    Quote Originally Posted by MuddyWaters View Post
    Nebo dont have to be hard to acclimate...
    Day -1 denver 5000'
    Day 0 durango 7000'
    Day 1 camp @475, 10 mi ,9400'
    Day 2 camp @455, 20 mi 11,120

    Just keep day 1 short , and the nightly progression is reasonable for someone with no history of issues.

    And then theres diamox as well
    Getting into Durango seems $$$ and harder from what Iíve found another reason I keep going back to Denver start.


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    Quote Originally Posted by map man View Post
    There are advantages to starting a September CT thru-hike in Durango soon after Labor Day. You hike the San Juans in early September rather than the more cold-prone late-September. You are less likely to run into truly hot days in sections 2 and 1 in late September as opposed to early September. You would be starting out hiking trail you have not hiked before and by the time you got to Breckenridge you could then decide whether continuing on and completing a thru-hike was important to you or not.

    If you are worried about going to high elevation too quickly consider this. From previous posts of yours I have concluded you are a more fit and athletic hiker than 58-year-old me. I was able in the last few years to do an eleven day hike in the San Juans coming straight from low elevation Iowa. And I lived to tell the tale. I think you likely could handle the elevation if you just avoid trying to do big miles your first few days.
    Good points! Logistics into Durango just seem like a pita and pricey....lots to consider. Thx


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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    Great info as usual....One day I’ll have time to take a leisurely 3k mile walk! I’ll likely only have 23-24 days due to kids and work so doubt I’ll have any time for off trail exploration as I’m not a marathon hiker....A 20 mpd avg will be a push for me especially given the shorter days....Logistics into Durango seem tougher and $$$. I started at IC last time with the pup so WC would likely be my choice as I could hit trail same day as flights get in Denver about 11am. I really like the looks of mags LC alternate just not sure if I could swing it with my time restrictions.




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    if I recall that CT hike roughly was 24 MPD avg. The elev changes of doing added summits was where being in LD hiking form played the biggest help. There was no acclimation issue. I wasnt afraid to night hike either which is beautiful under clear crisp CO fall nights at some elev. I'm not fast but will hike long hrs with an UL kit. I really dilly dallied not doing a time efficient hike taking bunches of zeros and losing 2 days the way it was set up. And it was close to 4 wks, the same time frame as you have but without a dog. BTW, does the JRT help you hike more MPD?

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    Quote Originally Posted by saltysack View Post
    Getting into Durango seems $$$ and harder from what I’ve found another reason I keep going back to Denver start.


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    Is it any harder than getting out?

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