A Double-Diagonal Hike Across Colorado

Move over, Colorado Trail. A Centennial State resident has accomplished the first known “Colorado X”, a corner-to-corner — then corner-to-corner again — foot-powered double-transect of the state.

India Wood completed her journey on Aug. 20 at the southwestern corner of Colorado after 2,367km and 135 days. And while those numbers are not unusual in the thru-hiking world, what is remarkable is the route, which Wood more or less invented because she felt like moving diagonally to experience as much of her home state as possible.

Four Corners, where India Wood completed her Colorado X. Photo: Screenshot

 

According to The Trek, Wood’s route mainly was road walking, though she did hop on trails when they pointed in the direction she needed to go. She traveled southeast to northwest first, starting in May 2020, an effort that took roughly three months to complete.

Two years later, she set out from Colorado’s northeast corner and headed southwest, finishing in another three months. On both journeys, she averaged 20 to 23km a day, took her time, and had food, water, and campsites chosen well in advance.

“She’s not a stoke chaser,” Ryan Ernstes, a filmmaker working on a project about Wood’s journey, told The Trek. “She’s out there for noble reasons, to reconnect with the outdoors from the outside in.”

In addition to a journey of self-discovery and connection to place, Wood’s adventure also functioned as a fundraising opportunity for Audubon Rockies.

map of India Wood's X-route across Colorado.

India Wood’s X-route across Colorado. Image: India Wood

A full life

The Trek‘s complete profile of Wood is well worth a read, mainly because it focuses on the unique life the adventurer led before she even started adventuring. With a poet for a mother and a rancher for a stepfather, Wood always felt deeply connected to the land around her hometown of Colorado Springs.

At the age of 12, she discovered a bone that turned out to be part of a nearly complete Allosaurus fossil. She excavated 18 of the bones herself over the next four years before her mother forced her to consult the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. The fossilized skeleton is on display there now.

After that, Wood went on to a career in publishing, developed an interactive star chart and amateur astronomy website, started a business, and raised a family.

It wasn’t until her children were adults that she started to think of walking across Colorado twice. When she set out, she’d only ever been backpacking for six days at a time.

a landscape of the san juans

Wood followed the Colorado Trail through the San Juan range for 10 days as a part of her Colorado X. Photo: Shutterstock

 

“I feel so stuck. I have no income. I’m a failure as a writer. I’ve shut down my business. I’ve got an empty nest. My career is at a standstill, and I’m reworking my relationship with my spouse. I thought, ‘I have to get moving,'” she confided. “Hiking some official trail, I wouldn’t have been able to do that.”

Andrew Marshall

Andrew Marshall is an award-winning painter, photographer, and freelance writer. Andrew's essays, illustrations, photographs, and poems can be found scattered across the web and in a variety of extremely low-paying literary journals. You can find more of his work at www.andrewmarshallimages.com, @andrewmarshallimages on Instagram and Facebook, and @pawn_andrew on Twitter (for as long as that lasts).