About the Author: Chelsea Coye grew up on the coast of Maine and now lives in the high rockies of Colorado with her husband, Matt and her dog, Shea. She has always loved to play outside no matter what the season. She is planning to hike the PCT in 2020, but currently has her sights set on the Colorado Trail in the summer of 2019. You can find Chelsea on Instagram @chelsea.adventurefit.

I so am glad that we received a ton of snow in Colorado this year, the skiing was great! But I am realizing that trying to get a few sections of the Colorado Trail done in June this year is probably not going to happen.

I am excited for when I get to sections 20-28 in September there will still be some creeks and streams for drinking water running.

On high snow years the recommended start dates for the Colorado Trail get pushed back to July. As a section hiker, planning to do most of my hike in August and September that is a good thing! I am hoping that I will see more thru hikers on the trail with my later time frame to swap stories with and maybe share a campsite.

For now I am focused on purchasing gear and making sure I’m in good shape. With a bigger goal in mind of hiking the PCT in 2020, this summer will be a test of what I need and what I don’t need and how many miles I can comfortably do with a lot of weight on my back.  

At 5’4’’ and 110 lbs, what might be a comfortable pack weight for some men or bigger women, will be too heavy for me to carry long distances. My plan is for my base weight to be around 15 lbs, which means that I am planning to buy a lot of really expensive ultralight gear.

My big three are my Osprey Aura 50 Liter pack, Western Mountaineering Ultralight 20 sleeping bag and the Big Agnes Fly Creek 1 tent, weighing in at 10.9 oz, 28 oz and 27 oz respectively. Not the lightest on the market, but comfortable for me.

I am a super planner, and I’ve had a gear list written down for the PCT since last summer and I’m not even hiking until a year from now. But it helps me to visualize everything that I will need and how much it all costs and weighs. Everytime I decide to spend money on something not trail related I am reminded by looking at this sheet, how much money I need to squirrel away.

My numbers still need a little refining but at the moment I am looking at 15.5 lbs of base weight (no water or food) and about $1785 worth of gear still to purchase before I head out on the trail this summer. My plan is to test as much gear as I can, and maybe even dial my base weight back to 11-12 lbs if possible.

My other focus right now is staying in shape. As a fitness coach, I’m big into exercise anyways, but I have been more focused than ever on making sure my legs can hold me up for multiple 20 mile days. I’ve also been strengthening my shoulders and my back to be ready to support a heavy pack.

I would be devastated if I injured myself this summer or out on the trail. So being in best shape is non-negotiable for me. A couple of my favorite go to exercises are 3 sets of 10 squats and lunges with weights, and 2 sets of 20 push ups and a 1 minute plank hold for back and shoulders.

Right now, I just can’t wait to get out on some dry trails and long hiking days. The snow is starting to melt here in the mountains, but we still have a long way to go before I’ll be doing any non-snow hiking in Summit County. South to Salida and east to Golden and the front range will be my plan this spring to get some long days in.