I want to do a weeklong Colorado Trail hike next summer. What section do you recommend?
A. Consider taking on the 68-mile stretch from San Luis Pass (near Creed) to Molas Pass. It’s mostly above timberline, threads through the La Garita and Weminuche Wilderness Areas, and includes the spectacular 17-mile Cataract Ridge Reroute, which just opened last summer and skirts around motorized sections, providing even better vistas. The reroute traces, above 12,000 feet, the Continental Divide via old mule trails that carried gold and silver through the mountains in the 1890s. I hiked Cataract last July and can tell you that its wildflower-covered rolling hills and views of fourteeners make you want to stop, drop your pack, and belt out a celebratory yodel.
But yodeling in the Rockies can quickly turn to shrieks due to an oft overlooked hiking hazard—lightning. Our placid afternoon tramp morphed into Armageddon when the weather turned stormy. Chunks of hail pounded down, and lightning sliced around us like knives in pursuit of a blindfolded magician’s assistant. We headed toward lower elevations, staying 20 yards apart from one another (lightning likes heights and groups), and, when things got really hairy, we crouched on our tiptoes to minimize contact with the ground (watch a video clip at ngadventure.com). We got lucky and made it out unscorched, but be certain to brush up on safety measures at www.lightningsafety.noaa.gov/overview.htm. Your Colorado
Trail escape is sure to be electrifying—just make sure it’s in all the right ways.
Holly Morris is a TV host (Treks in a Wild World, Globe Trekker), and the author of Adventure Divas and founder of the multimedia company Adventure Divas. Post your travel questions here and they could get answered in the magazine.