Announcing the 2024 Colorado Islands Project

I am pleased to announce my summer 2024 adventure, a sequel to the hikes of the Colorado-X in 2020 and 2022. I will select five places in Colorado which are geographically identifiable, such as a mountain range, plateau, basin, or city. I am looking for fellow explorers to join me for a one-week hike across one of these islands. You must be physically fit, curious, and creative. We will work together on our respective creative projects which might be a magazine article, photo essay, documentary, art, or music.

Give me a call. Consider that Gandalf has knocked on your round hobbit door.

The Places

Ideas thus far include the Uncompahgre Plateau, Grand Mesa, Colorado River somewhere, Piceance Basin, Sand Wash, Yampa River, Flat Tops, Gore Range, North Park, Elk Mountains, the Denver metropolis, Monument Ridge, Republican River, Rush Creek, the Arkansas River east of La Junta, Wet Mountains, Johnson Mesa/Mesa de Maya, and the San Luis Valley. Other ideas?

One thought is to explore places my parents Myron Wood and Nancy Wood photographed and wrote about in the 1960s-1980s. That includes many of the places listed above and we would see how they have evolved over 50 years.

Fellow Explorers

I am seeking a wide range of creative people to join me, one per island, if the fit is right. You might be an established or aspiring writer, storyteller, singer, musician, painter, or filmmaker. You need to possess a deep love of Colorado or be willing to succumb to that, and appreciate everything from millipedes to a thunderstorm.

I need people who see the world differently than I do; thus I welcome ranchers and farmers, people with disabilities, sturdy Wall Street types, Indigenous, people of color, LGBTQ, those living unusual callings, young or old. I need humans who are adaptable and enjoy meeting everybody without exceptions.

You must have recently hiked at least 8 miles with a 35-pound pack, preferably a few days in a row. If you are especially creative and curious I may lower the requirements (terrain permitting) to a 10-pound pack and we will day hike and jockey cars. You need to be okay with plan changes, mishaps, and rolling with unexpected opportunities.

Give me a call. Consider that Gandalf has knocked on your round hobbit door.

Colorado Sky Islands and Vermillion Basin 2021

My friend Chase and I backpacked for four days in the NW corner of Colorado, a land with more mountain lions than people, the nearest gas station 50 miles away. We encountered wild horses, rattlesnakes, pronghorn, deer, horned toad, rare flowers, stunning scenery, Native American rock art, and fossil algae balls.

Colorado Transect Five Mountain Passes

Boreas Pass, Ten Mile Range, Vail Pass, Shrine Pass, Two Elk Pass

Backpacked 59 miles and 9,200 vertical feet from Como to Minturn over Colorado’s central Rocky Mountains July 9-13, 2020. This mountain section differed from the rest of my route across the state: nearly all hiking trails, I saw other hikers, and the paths were high–over 10,000 feet in elevation. As I left Como in South Park I felt worried and intimidated about the mountains ahead of me.(Hover for photo captions.)

 

Colorado 2020 Diagonal: Expedition Stats

Map of India's diagonal hike across Colorado in 2020
I charted my hike in red across the Colorado map, a wild woman’s waltz along my diagonal yellow transect line. Many people helped me along the way, the Friends of India’s Diagonal Expedition Colorado (FIDE CO).
 

Official stats for India’s Diagonal Expedition Colorado:

  • 732 miles hiked
  • Waltz partner: Matilda the Gregory backpack
  • Started expedition May 11, finished August 18, 100 days
  • 65 days of hiking in 5 segments
  • 35 days during expedition needed for route planning, scouting, food resupply, water caching, rest
  • 44 days hiking solo, 21 with friends
  • Cumulative elevation gain: about 50,300 ft. = Mt. Everest + Denali
  • Hiking path: dirt roads 31 days, paved roads 14, public land trails 14, private ranches 6
  • Where I slept: tent 39 nights, Bessie the 4Runner 9, motels 9, friends’ houses 8

Colorado Transect: The Joys of Paper Maps

“Wow, you’re starting in the southeast corner of Colorado. I just love Durango and Telluride. The mountains are fantastic.”

“No, not that corner, the SOUTHEAST corner, at Kansas and Oklahoma, the high plains and Picketwire Canyon.” I put my fingers to my forehead.

“Oh. Near Pueblo?” My good friend who has lived in Colorado for 30 years wrinkles her brow.

“About 150 miles east of Pueblo, but close enough.” I am baffled that most of my friends can’t draw a map of Colorado even though it is square. I yearn for the paper restaurant placemats of my childhood showing a map of colorful Colorado beneath my plate of fried chicken, with icons for oil, corn, and cattle areas, major highway lines, and the plains, mountains, and plateaus. Nobody looks at a state paper map anymore, choosing the convenient get-there-now tunnel vision of Google Maps.

I began this journey by inking my red diagonal line from SE to NW on a paper GTR Recreational Map of Colorado in January 2020. I then transferred that line to a sequence of 14 regional maps showing federal land ownership along the way. I could see the big picture of my journey on paper that spanned three pool tables.