FKT: Maggie Guterl - Collegiate Loop (CO) - 2023-07-31

Route variation
Standard route
Gender category
Start date
Finish date
Total time
3d 5h 10m 50s
GPS track(s)

I have been very curious about unsupported and self-supported hiking efforts lately so decided to give this tough but beautiful loop a try to see how it might go and see if I think I am ready for the whole Colorado Trail. I knew Olga was the pro at these unsupported efforts and she had the FKT on this loop since 2020. I knew it would be tough but wow did I underestimate how tough.   Hiking is just as hard as running. This effort is unsupported and I took everything with me that I needed. Including all food and a filter that probably should have been newer. 

I saw that Andy had a pretty stout unsupported male FKT so that was best case scenario. I was unable to ever acquire a 60 mile day in one 24 hour period. I started at 9:50am Friday July 28th from the Twin Lakes TH and chose to tackle the west side first. My base weight for my pack was just over 8 lbs. I had 2lbs of food per day at about 3000 calories a day (a bit over each day just in case... which was needed).  14 lbs didnt feel too bad. But wow there really isn't much running in these efforts.  I am new to this style and I tried jogging but it yielded the same pace as my walking. So I just used a mix of a jogging motion and hiking motion to change up muscles throughout the 77 hours.

I got some sort of storm every afternoon which was actually nice to cool it down. The mornings were hot. I went until about 2am the first day and stopped somewhere past Cottonwood pass above Mineral Basin (around mile 43) and slept on a little flat spot above 12k feet. Set alarm for 2 hours of sleep. I used a pad I cut up to be smaller, a Z pack tarp I borrowed from Hannah Green, a ground sheet (per Meghan Hicks's recommendation, which Meredith Terranova would like to point out is really just a cut of trash bag), and a 22 degree Mont Bell water resistant sleeping bag (FWIW I am actually very happy with that over a quilt). Starting hiking again after 4am and what an amazing sunrise.  I think I made it about 53 miles and 14k of gain for the first 24 hours. 

Second 24 hours, I made it to the Fooses Creek TH after cresting the ridge at the West/East intersection around 11pmish and dropping steeply to the darkest, wettest, greenest section of the CT. So much raging water! I heard lots of whispering but wasn't creeped out bc I had this weird feeling like I wasn't alone but not in a creepy way. Very hard to explain but I probably needed sleep. It was very wet and cold down there. My lungs were doing very bad here and I wanted to get to a drier cooler and lower part of the trail.  I camped at the parking area as I exited the trail to the road just before 2am I think. By now my feet are totally wrecked. (This began happening at mile 20!). I decided to try to get 3 hours of sleep so I could push through the next 24 hours and try to get an illogical amount of miles and maybe still squeeze in under 3 days. I am at mile 89 mind you. 73 miles is a tall order. A guy offered me a cinnamon bun in the parking lot and I had to sadly refuse. 

The morning started off great as I cruised the gentle downhill road to the road crossing at Highway 50 again. I will hike as far as North Cottonwood where I got so tired I lay down on my mat not wanting to take off my shoes bc that was a whole thing. Half covered myself with a sleeping bag and woke up shivering. Downed some cold soaked oatmeal and kept hiking up. Finally, after sunrise, I lay down in a grassy summit area somewhere near Yale and took a 10 minute nap in the sun. Refreshed I down some Tailwind Recovery mix with some added instant cold brew and hiked the rest of the way to the finish feeling not as sleepy! The last 6 hours or so I was running out of calories and my filter was so frustratingly slow that I gave up consuming anything. The thought of being done and not having to walk on these gnarly feet anymore was enough fuel. 

After what felt like a month, Twin Lakes came into view again and the trail continued downhill. I heard booing! It was Meredith and Paul Terranova and Kevin Schmidt.  They wanted to be unsupportive until the end. I crossed the toilet paper finish line in 77 hours and 10 minutes and 50 seconds. I wanted to quit so many times but also can't quit things so I was just so happy to be done. I am glad I did this but think it will be a while until my next hike like this. I would like to slow down next time and see more things and maybe go for a swim. And maybe sleep more than 5 hours. Power to all you folks who do this all the time. Props to Tara Dower for the new CT FKT..... She hiked a faster pace for the entire 500 miles than I did for this 160. I have a lot to learn but already learned a lot. Next time, you will find me lounging at Lake Ann instead of blowing by it. ;)  I do encourage someone else to go for this. It's doable way faster. Especially the ladies. Hiking alone at night is pretty empowering and less scary than you think!