Saturday 12 October 2019

Food & Resupply in the Colorado Rockies

A key to planning on a long walk is knowing where you can resupply with food and other items. How many places are there? Will you have to leave the route to reach them? How many days food needs to be carried between supply points? How much are you prepared to carry?

On my recent month-long Colorado Rockies walk there were several options for resupply but all bar one were quite a distance from the trail, necessitating hitch-hiking or long road walks. However, thanks to the support of Andrew Terrill I only had to leave the mountains once. Andrew invited me to stay with him for a couple of nights while I finalised planned and took me round grocery and outdoor stores in his home town Golden so I could buy supplies. He also generously offered to bring supplies for me half way through a long section so I didn't need to leave the trail or carry a really heavy load. This made a huge difference to my planning.

Sorting supplies at Andrew's.

In Golden I bought twelve days supplies, leaving half for Andrew to bring in twelve days time.

After the first six days walking I arrived in the tiny hamlet of Twin Lakes (population 23), where I had a day off. Here I bought food for the next section at the hiker friendly General Store.

Twin Lakes supplies

As always at a town stop I ate plenty of fresh food, dinners (and beer) at the Twin Lakes Inn and snacks at two roadside takeaways. I stayed at the Twin Lakes Roadhouse Lodge, which provided excellent muffins for breakfast.

Civilised dining in the Twin Lakes Inn - veggieburger and beer.

Six days after leaving Twin Lakes I arrived at the little pool just below the Continental Divide that Andrew had picked as looking a good camp spot. It was. It was superb. Andrew was already there and welcomed me with a can of ginger beer that had been cooling in the water. After a hot tough sweaty climb this was very welcome.

Andrew cooking dinner

I'd been expecting to be on dried rations for another six days. Andrew had other ideas. He'd brought up the ingredients for a delicious fresh meal - salad followed by butternut squash pasta with a fresh veg and soya pieces sauce. It was the best meal of the trip.


It was then back on dried food until I reached my second town stop. This was the old mining town of Creede, where I'd enjoyed staying on my Continental Divide Trail hike in 1985. It didn't seemed to have changed much. Creede was ten miles from the trail and a long way down. I walked about half of that before someone gave me a lift.


I stayed in the same motel, the Snowshoe, which provided a good breakfast. Whether I ate in the same restaurants and cafes during the day I don't know, but they were excellent back then and excellent now. I did buy stove fuel and some backpacking food in San Juan Sports, as I'd done on my first visit. The rest of my supplies came from a couple of grocery stores.

Nine days supplies

In Creede I had to make a decision. I reckoned I was nine days from the end of the walk. Did I want to carry that much food? There was one road crossing where I could hitch-hike to another town about half way. Staying in the mountains was appealing though. I decided to carry all the food. Heaving my heavy pack on my back after a ride to the trailhead I wondered if that was wise. It was too late to change my mind. Thunderstorms would distract me from the weight the next few days. And when I reached Wolf Creek Pass at the end of the walk with no food left and after a minimal breakfast I wondered why I hadn't carried more. Happily Igloo Ed was there to meet me - it's good having friends like this - and I was soon having a veggie burger down in South Fork.


  1. This is the potential awkwardness of a long distance hike isn't it. I'm glad I'm not the only one who heaves nine days worth of food onto their back. I personally live off of cousin cousin, chorizo, muesli, cheese, wraps and lots of trail mix - mixed nuts/dried fruit. I was concerned about the lack of nutrional variation, so always gorge on fresh fruit in towns to try to keep up my micro nutrient needs. have regular biannual health check ups, and apparently my blood results were "excellent". So it can be done I'm glad to find. But it still gets heavy no matter how I try to keep the weight down!

  2. Yes, on long walks I can't get food weight down to much below 1kg a day. It's easy to carry less for trips of a week or less but on long walks my appetite rockets after 10-14 days.