Nina Bridges - Lessons Learned and Records Set: My Unforgettable Journey on the Colorado Trail

Nina Bridges - Lessons Learned and Records Set: My Unforgettable Journey on the Colorado Trail

Lessons Learned and Records Set: My Unforgettable Journey on the Colorado Trail

Nina Bridges, September 2023

 I reached the Durango, CO terminus of the legendary Colorado trail at 7:15 pm on Thursday, August 24, completing the 486-mile trail in 8 days, 14 hours, and 15 minutes. Embarking on an adventure along the rugged terrain of the Colorado Trail is an experience like no other. The breathtaking vistas, challenging ascents, and serene wilderness make for an unforgettable journey. As I prepared for this challenging feat, I knew that every piece of gear I chose would play a pivotal role in my comfort and performance. I pushed my body to new extents and to places I had never been and learned so much about myself along the way.
Setting the women's supported record on the Colorado Trail was an incredible achievement, and along this challenging path, I gained invaluable insights that I carry with me. Here are four lessons that this remarkable journey bestowed upon me:

Everything is Temporary

The Colorado Trail demanded intense physical and emotional effort, pushing me to my limits. But in the midst of the struggle, I learned that every tough and every good moment is temporary. There were times when I felt exhaustion like I had never felt, but I reminded myself that it would pass. Just as lows are transient, highs are too. Embracing this ebb and flow allowed me to power through difficult stretches, knowing that better times lay ahead. This principle applied not just to my physical state but to the highs and lows of life in general. I applied this thought to maintain my momentum, especially during the times that tested my mental strength.

Laughter as a Catalyst

Amidst the grueling physical effort, I discovered the profound importance of laughter. My crew astutely observed that I moved quicker when I was laughing and enjoying the experience. Sharing stories and trading jokes with my pacers became a source of motivation. The sleep deprivation that came with the effort made everything seem funnier – a reminder to find joy even in the most challenging circumstances. Laughter became a powerful tool to combat exhaustion and focus on the end goal.

Efficiency Breeds Success

The Colorado Trail taught me that efficiency is the cornerstone of success, especially during an endurance endeavor like this. With each minute counting, optimizing every aspect of the journey became imperative. My daily routine revolved around calculated breaks – each around 10 minutes – to refuel, rehydrate, and address any issues. The quicker we streamlined these activities, the more time I had to rest, recover, and simply enjoy a moment of stillness. This principle extended to nighttime, where prompt rest after stopping for the day extended my energy for the next leg of the journey. These lessons in efficiency reshaped my approach not just to the trail, but to time management in life beyond it.

Support is necessary

Embarking on a record-setting journey is far from a solitary feat. The support and camaraderie of my crew and pacers proved invaluable. Their encouragement, insights, and companionship transformed moments of struggle into opportunities for growth. Shared experiences and inside jokes provided a respite from the trail's challenges, nurturing a sense of unity that propelled me forward. The experience underscored the significance of a strong support network in achieving extraordinary goals, reminding me of the value of collaboration and genuine connections. I couldn’t have done this effort without the support of my primary crew: Josh, Ben and Zane, and a pacer, Yiran, who joined for two days.
Setting the women's supported record on the Colorado Trail marked a monumental personal achievement. However, the journey was not merely about breaking records. It was about surpassing my own limitations and discovering untapped reservoirs of strength. This lesson extends beyond the trail – it's a reminder that our greatest triumphs often lie in pushing past self-imposed boundaries. From understanding the impermanence of challenges to cherishing the power of laughter and from embracing efficiency to valuing support, this experience gave me both an emotional and physical transformation. As I reflect on this remarkable experience, I'm reminded that the lessons learned on the trail will continue to shape my journey far beyond its path.
I used the Run Compression Calf Sleeves 4.0 for my journey along the Colorado Trail. These immensely help with muscle fatigue and soreness on a long multi-day effort. They made it so my calves never got sore, and I was able to wake up in the morning feeling refreshed and rejuvenated after only a few hours of sleep. Read my review on Gear Junkie here!