Nine Line Charity Hike PT.1

I recently went on a sponsored, partially supported charity hike for the Nine Line Foundation. If you haven’t heard of them, they are a charity that deals exclusively with severely  wounded Veterans. They have a unique perspective and business model for their charity, which is the sister company to Nine Line t shirts.

sponsored gear

We were supposed to do the Colorado Trail, sections 1,2,3, and 6. So all the sections that I had already done. Whatever, I loved most of those sections. In the picture above, two of our guides are sitting in front of donated gear in the REI Bags. There were a lot of donors, apart from the financial backers, there were a bunch of gear donors that I will list at the end of the post series.

the bagsHere you see all the packs we took. Mine is center, with the umbrella sticking out and no lid, leaning up against some boxes. Gregory sent us the Z65 for men and the J60 for the women. Everybody had all their stuff packed up and ready to go when we sat down for our briefing. We got a class on leave no trace, and then had a pre hike brief on what to expect while on the trail. There were a few people there that looked a little intimidated by the amount of distance and elevation that we would travel. I don’t know why though, we had all been thoroughly educated on the trails sections prior by the Facebook Group and Emails sent out by Nine Line. We then learned that we would be using Wag Bags. For those that don’t know what a Wag Bag is, it’s basically a bag that you poop into, and then seal against the smell and rain. I only had to use one all week due to our staying at campgrounds for most of the trail and I was thankful.

attendanceThe pre-brief crowd. The ladies in the foreground are from Gregory, they actually were with us the whole time, ensuring that there were no pack issues. Pretty great customer service. After the brief we got the departure schedule, and we started the longest part of the sections that we would be doing at 3:30 in the am. We were told to get our donated gear together and then eat and go to sleep. This is when I first met our guide, Jason. He was hired just a few days before, and arrived at the hotel literally just as we were breaking to get our gear checked and packed. It was great, he walked up to Penny and asked her if this was all of our group. Wrong person to ask that, her immediate response was “You’re the guide, don’t you know?”.  He then turned bright red and mumbled something about how she was right and he would find out. He turned out to be a great hire for the guide team and we all really liked him. In fact when we do this again next year we are keeping the same team.

We left in the morning as the third group to go, and we were to the trailhead by at around 0530. We set out, and immediately I realized I would have to slow down. Me and another team member Emma “Space Pants” had taken the lead with out meaning to and the lead was large. I am used to hiking on my own even with a friend I will usually out pace most of my hiking buddies, so I just wait at stops that look good.

It was at one of these stops that I experienced the first of a few gear issues that I would have. The hiking poles that we were given were not an issue for most of the people on the hike, but most of them are not nicknamed Sausage Fingers. I have seriously fat hands, and the retaining insert that you are supposed to insert when the straps are properly adjusted just would not go all the way in, and it was rubbing the area between my thumb and hand raw.

Cropped from
Cropped from

This part. So luckily I had my wife’s Leatherman Micra liberated from her purse, and I used the scissors to just cut that part off and then I re-ran it properly and tied it off. the handle gave me no more problems. But I am working with the RMA people to get these returned, or fixed since they have stopped extending. They just click whenever you twist them to extend the poles.


first peak

tree stars
Tree Stars

it was greenIt was super green on this section. There was water everywhere, and the hiking was good. The temps got into the 90’s I’m sure but in the shade it felt fine. everyone pretty much just snacked all day and we eventually stopped for a quick lunch of bagged Progresso soup. The entire 40 oz. container was only like 400 calories, so no where near enough for me, but it tasted good once you put in some powered Tapatio and Cajun Sparkle.

It was here that we picked our group name. Jason asked us what we wanted to be called and without hesitation Justin said “Pretty Ricky and the Gang!” It was a perfect fit. I am pretty. So while I was sure I was being picked on, I was also sure it was good natured. It stuck.

camp for the first nightMy spot for the first night, I was sleeping on a hill because I was the only one on the trail of 75 people in a hammock. Later when I was eating in the fenced off area where all the ground dwellers were, I was told a mule deer was spotted going through my hammock. He must have been felted still as there were no holes in the tarp, but the corner you see here had popped off, and I lost the stake. I had some really nice titanium shepherd’s hooks that I had blued in coke. I’ll show you guys how to do that later. So I had to borrow a stake from a friend.

Next post will be sections 2 and 3, with 6 being the third. Thanks for reading and leave me any comments in the section below!