Thru The Colorado Trail

Senior Cam Apel thru-hikes the Colorado Trail on a solo 30 day trip, arriving just in time for the school year.


Cam Apel, 18, travels among trails and is a former boy-scout. Apel runs an extra fashion account on Instagram and a YouTube channel where he illustrates his hiking experience.

Gabi Dawson, Staff Writer

On July 19th, Bryant senior Cam Apel left for a 30 day thru-hike on the Colorado Trail with his friend, Chris Herrera. The Colorado trail runs 468 miles, its highest point being 13,271 feet above sea level. Thru-hiking is a form of hiking, consisting of an end to end backpacking trip down a long-distance trail. It first originated in 1948, when Earl Shafer became the first person to ever hike from Georgia to Maine on a 124 day trip. Thru-hiking

Two days in, Herrera became ill due to altitude sickness and had to leave the trail. This left Apel a full 28 days that he would be hiking alone, but not completely alone, as the community around him quickly began to flourish as he ventured the trail further.
“The community is really awesome, we’re all kind of like-minded because we’re all working towards the same goal of getting to the end of the trail,” Apel said.

With a camera in his back pocket, Apel started to document videos of his hike, which he would then edit and turn into a 4 part episode series on his YouTube channel once he arrived home. Apel started to interview the people he met along the way on his camera, asking them questions such as why they were there and what their trail name was.

A trail name is a nickname based off of or given to someone from an experience that happened to them along the trail. Apel got the French trail name “Perdu”, meaning “lost”, from his many experiences in losing things along the trail.In order to take his adventure, Apel was first going to have to convince his parents. Apel had done Boy Scouts his younger ages, and did overnight trips back then, but this was a little different from Boy Scouts, and was going to take a lot more convincing. With a few weekend trips first and an impressive slideshow presentation, Apel persuaded his way into getting the okay to go on the trip.

Apel began his days bright and early every morning at 6:00 am, he would start with a short breakfast, clean up his area, and head out for the day. Apel would hike 14 hours a day, averaging 20-30 miles of walking distance. Occasionally he would head into a local town, where he could stock up on food, meet people, find comfortable shelter to settle down in, and hitchhike rides back and forth from where he needed to be. After a long day of being on his feet, Apel would settle down in his tent or a cot somewhere safe and dry along the trail, usually surrounded by trees, eat his dinner and go to sleep for the night. He would then wake up in the morning and do it over again.

Since Apel had left late July and was conquering 20-30 miles daily, he had a lot of work to do in order to finish the 468 mile trail and arrive home just in time for the first day of his senior year.
“Compared to most people I hiked the trail very fast. I feel like I didn’t get to soak up as much of the experience as I wanted to, my biggest regret is how fast I went,” Apel said.

Hiking the Colorado Trail alone is an achievement like no other for someone like Apel, as this makes him one of the only people under 18 to ever do it. This allowed him the opportunity to prove himself and follow the path he wanted to take, regardless of the odds or how unlikely his accomplishment seemed.
“I had multiple friends and family tell me that doing the Colorado trail was unrealistic and that’s something I should do after college,” Apel said.

As for his adventure, Apel felt right at home. He explored mountains and realizations, while he ventured solo through the Colorado trail, meeting all sorts of people from around the globe.
“I was meeting all these people from all these different walks of life who have accomplished all these things or have all these dreams to do, and I just realized that if you kind of just stay in your bubble the whole time or you stay in Little Rock or Arkansas your whole life, you’re not really experiencing what there is,” Apel said.

Apel is going to take a gap year off from college this fall and is going to start his newest ambition on the Pacific Crest Trail.
The Pacific Crest trail is another long-distance hiking trail which goes on for 2,680 miles, with its highest point reaching 13,153 feet. Apel will take a 5 month trip by himself to take on the trail.

“If the Colorado Trail taught me anything, it’s that it’s actually a realistic thing to not just settle. There really is time to follow your passions, you just have to make that time.”