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Animas High School graduate to seek solo record on Colorado Trail

Kristina Bodewes pursues women’s self-supported mark for west-to-east trek
Kristina Bodewes, a recent Animas High School graduate, stands at the Colorado Trail sign June 2 in Durango, where she will begin her 485-mile trek to Denver in an effort to complete the trail in 13 days and set a record. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)

Recent Animas High School graduate Kristina Bodewes is taking on the Colorado Trail, and she’s doing it solo.

She plans to embark from Durango next month and reach the trail’s end near Denver in 13 days, a record-setting time for women on the particular route she is taking.

Bodewes, 18, said her hike will be self-supported, which means she won’t be receiving direct help from friends or family, but she can use resources she finds along the trail such as small resupply towns. She is taking the west-to-east (Collegiate east) route, which remains mostly below treeline.

Although records have been set by men in the supported and unsupported categories for the west-to-east route, a record hasn’t been set by a woman for that route, according to fastestknowntime.com. However, Nika Meyers set the women’s self-supported record from Denver to Durango on July 30, 2021, with a trip time of 9 days, 14 hours and 19 minutes.

Bodewes is dedicating her hike to Compañeros: Four Corners Immigrant Resource Center, and has organized fundraisers through a GoFundMe and a website she made using Wix, she said.

The idea to tackle the Colorado Trail alone came to Bodewes after she and her friend, Holly Proulx, hiked the trail last summer in 19 days, she said. They traveled from the Denver end of the trail back to Durango. This time, Bodewes will start at the trailhead near Durango.

Proulx is also attempting the hike, but she will start in the Denver area, Bodewes said. They both chose nonprofits to fundraise for, with Proulx choosing a suicide-prevention organization and Bodewes choosing Compañeros.

Bodewes worked with the immigration resource nonprofit during a clothing drive in fall 2021, she said. She collected winter clothes and helped sort through them and hang them for people to browse through.

“Immigrants come from all over the place,” she said. “But a lot of them, especially (if they are) newer to Durango or the U.S., are in need of support.”

Bodewes was born in Russia and came to the United States when she was 3 and was adopted into her family, which is full of outdoor enthusiasts.

She said she enjoys working with Compañeros, which is why she chose it for fundraising.

“It was a really, really cool experience and that’s what made me want to learn more about it and help them in the future,” she said.

She said Compañeros thanked her for planning a fundraiser and gently reminded her to respect the land during her trek because it was originally Native land.

“I had a little conflict yesterday because I was like, ‘I’m helping immigrants but then there’s this Native population that was totally suppressed,’” she said.

She said cultural awareness, respect and appreciation for the land is important.

“There’s definitely that rule of ‘leave only footprints and take only pictures,’” she said. “And I love that and I think people definitely need to respect that on the trail. Anywhere, really.”

Kristina Bodewes, a recent Animas High School graduate, plans to set the women’s record for the west-to-east (Collegiate east) route of the Colorado Trail from Durango to the Denver. She said she has been a runner since sixth grade, but she didn’t find a passion for hiking until she hiked a 415-mile portion of the Appalachian Trail from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Hanover, New Hampshire, as a high school sophomore. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
Preparing for the long haul

The route Bodewes is taking is about 485 miles. In order to reach the trail’s end within 13 days she plans to hike an average of 38½ miles per day.

“Since I’m starting in Durango where the altitude is already really high and you’re climbing a lot at first, I’m hoping to start with like 36 (miles per day) and then work my way up toward 40 (miles a day) toward the end,” she said.

Bodewes is limiting her gear to a total weight of 25 to 30 pounds in order to maintain her pace, she said.

“I’m trying to stay as light as possible because I’m trying to do a lot of mileage per day and it’s tough to do that with a really heavy pack,” Bodewes said.

She’ll have a one-person tent, hiking shoes, a rain jacket, base-layer clothing, a head net to keep the bugs out of her face, and a drip-bag water filter.

Oh, and bear spray.

Bodewes said it is unnerving knowing she will be “out there with the bears,” but she will be prepared.

“And honestly, that’s for my own safety against humans and bears,” she said. “Because I am an 18-year-old girl out in the woods alone.”

But she isn’t too concerned, she said. She knows how to store her food in a tree away from her tent and she has a SPOT (Satellite Personal Tracker) device in case of emergency.

“If something really crazy bad happens, then I just hit the button and then emergency help comes right away,” she said.

Bodewes is without a doubt nervous for her hike, she said, but she comes from a supportive and outdoorsy family.

“I think that’s very helpful, being surrounded by that everyday,” she said.

Kristina Bodewes, who graduated from Animas High School this year, plans to embark from Durango on a 485-mile hike to the north end of the Colorado Trail on July 1. (Jerry McBride/Durango Herald)
The thrill is in the challenge

The Colorado Trail offers scenic mountainscapes across hundreds of miles. Bodewes said she particularly enjoys the section of trail through Stony Pass east of Silverton.

“It’s like an incredible dreamland, beautiful,” she said. “There’s a river that goes through, or a stream, and there’s always wildflowers and really giant boulders.

She added Stony Pass is accessible and easy to reach and she recommends anyone to visit.

“I’m honestly a little nervous for the eastern route because while it is supposedly easier, I haven’t done it, so I’m not very familiar with food drops and what not,” she said.

Bodewes said she has been a runner for most of her life, but when it comes to hiking, she used to hate it. But after she decided to join her brother for a 415-mile hike along the Appalachian Trail from Mount Katahdin in Maine to Hanover, New Hampshire, her feelings for hiking shifted.

“I was really struggling in school and friend groups and, you know, the adolescent whatnot,” she said. “I think you get a lot more time to just process when you’re hiking because all you’re thinking about is putting one foot and step in front of the other and feeling yourself.”

Long hikes can be challenging, and that’s the draw for Bodewes, she said.

“I love to push past my limits and what I think I can do.”

Bodewes’ GoFundMe for Compañeros can be accessed at https://bit.ly/3mTcASq and on her website at https://bit.ly/39shNOh.

cburney@durangoherald.com

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