Colorado 2020: Much Griping about Nothing

A man walking in the desert.
Pretty much what I did on July 20, 2020, except that it was worse. Image by Carlos Trần from Pixabay.

This post is the latest edition in my series about my AmeriCorps term in Colorado in 2020. The other posts in the series can be found here.

On July 20, 2020 we returned to the same stretch of trail as the previous two days (see here for a description of the area). We were nearly done with this area, so it should’ve been an easy day. Unfortunately, this turned into our most grueling day yet.

The only major task left for us on this section of trail was to rake up loose rocks and move them off the trail. We did this using our McLeods, which are essentially rakes that are designed to be extra-heavy just so they’re harder to carry.

The raking wasn’t difficult, and we finished within a few hours. We now had most of our 10-hour workday to kill, although what happened was that our workday killed us.

Once the raking was complete, our next task was to wander along the Mesa Trail and fix whatever needed fixing.

The Mesa trail was a wide, winding trail that was quite popular in the Boulder area. It was also extremely long. AllTrails.com says that the Mesa Trail is 13.2 miles long, but in reality I think it’s closer to 20,000.

The Mesa Trail near Boulder, CO. Fence Rail along the Hiking Trail by James Tiffin, Jr. CC BY-SA 2.0

We split into groups, which anyone who’s ever seen a horror movie knows is a bad idea. We then began to walk. And walk. All while carrying heavy tools. For example, I had a sledgehammer in my backpack the entire day, which we used exactly zero times.

For those of you who don’t know me, I look like I’m in shape, but this is a trick. If I do more than 30 seconds of cardio, I fall to the ground, defeated, and accepting of death. Guess what kind of work hiking all day with a sledgehammer in your backpack is? Cardio.

A sleeping horse
Me after doing cardio, waiting on death to take me. My Horse Sleeping by Mark Peate. CC BY-SA 2.0

We hiked for hours on end, stopping only occasionally to fix drains and the like. I remember hearing someone say that we covered 10 miles that day. By the end of it, my thighs burned, and my feet felt like they were going to split in half lengthwise. To make matters worse, the sledgehammer in my pack had disconnected the hose on my water bladder, so that all of my water spilled out into my pack.

Eventually my emaciated, dehydrated husk of a body made it back to our van, although my soul was long gone. Broken and emotionally numb, we returned to our house.

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