Today’s hike combined the distances of what is normally associated with a day on the Camino with the beautiful Highline Canal trail system in Denver, Colorado. We hiked 12.49 miles – our longest distance yet!
I’m sure the workers who built the Highline Canal more than a century ago didn’t envision that people would be using their ambitious irrigation project as a recreational outlet in the midst of a busy urban area.
The Highline Canal meanders for more than 71 miles from the foothills in Jefferson County, into Arapahoe County, through Denver County until it ends in Adams County. It was built to provide water to farmers on Colorado’s eastern plains from the South Platte River Basin. The canal still provides water today, but is much more well known as a fantastic trail for hikers, mountain bikers, and horse lovers. Those recreating on the trail love it for the relative flatness (only 2 feet of elevation loss/gain per mile), the huge cottonwood trees which provide much needed shade and the diversity that every mile promises.
Today’s training hike started at the Cherry Hills trailhead near Hampden Boulevard. We then proceeded south along the Highline Canal through two of Colorado’s richest communities of Cherry Hills and Greenwood Villages.
In addition to observing how the lifestyles of the rich and famous were doing, we had the opportunity see some truly beautiful open space.
Todays trek was by far our longest distance hike which will equal what our average total distance per day will be on the Camino. I must admit hiking for 12.5 miles in a day is challenging on our old bones. However we accomplished today’s hike in a little over 5 hours which will allow for quite a bit of down time to rest and relax before starting the next days hike.
Now that we’ve established that we can hike a distance of 12 miles it is time to concentrate on increasing our fitness level. This may mean that our hikes will not necessarily be quite as long as today’s hike but perhaps our pace will increase to provide a higher level of fitness overall.