Thru-hiking the Colorado Trail as a Landscape Photographer

November 20, 2023  |  Colorado

I recently embarked on a 35-day journey to hike the entire Colorado Trail, starting in Denver and ending in my home town of Durango. I embarked on this journey as a full-time professional landscape photographer with the hopes of capturing some incredible images and to have a transformative experience. Since returning, I've been bombarded with amazing questions about my experience and I figured why not turn this into a podcast episode!?

Summit of Mount Massive (2023)

Here's a photo of Matt on the summit of Mt. Massive at sunrise while he did his thru-hike of the Colorado Trail.

Photo © copyright by Matt Payne.

Today's episode of the F-Stop Collaborate and Listen Podcast is a little bit different! We have Brie Stockwell hosting the show and I'm in the hot seat! We collected all of your burning questions about what it was like to thru-hike all 491-miles of the Colorado Trail (via the Collegiate West route of course) as a photographer.

On this week's episode, we discuss:

  • What is the Colorado Trail and what is involved in thru-hiking it.
  • Gear considerations for the Colorado Trail. Check out my Colorado Trail Gear Guide!
  • Training and logistical preparation needed to do the Colorado Trail.
  • Hygiene challenges including... pooping on the trail, laundry, and water filtration.
Porcupine Lake Sunset (2023)

While camping at Porcupine Lake on my Colorado Trail thru-hike, I enjoyed this beautiful sunset.

Photo © copyright by Matt Payne.

  • Photography choices and balancing hiking with making photographs while doing a thru-hike.
  • How I charged my photography gear while on the trail.
  • Lots and lots of stories from the Colorado Trail.
  • Discussions about philosophy and psychology relating to my experience on the Colorado Trail.
  • And a lot more!
Beautiful Huron Peak at Sunset (2023)
Perhaps one of my favorite photographs that I was able to capture while thru-hiking the Colorado Trail was this portrait of 14er Huron Peak. I purposely hiked off-trail several miles to camp at this lake adjacent to the Colorado Trail in order to see this particular scene and photograph it. Photo © copyright by Matt Payne.

Other topics/links discussed on the podcast this week:

I love hearing from the podcast listeners! Reach out to me via Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter if you'd like to be on the podcast or if you have an idea of a topic we can talk about. We also have an Instagram page, a Facebook Page, and a Facebook Group - so don't be shy!

Fox on Baldy Cinco (2023)
I was photographing this stunning scene on the side of Baldy Cinco while climbing it when all of the sudden a fox joined me. I quickly changed my camera settings and got this photo of the fox, who was hunting for food right next to me. Photo © copyright by Matt Payne.

We also have a searchable transcript of every episode!

Thanks for stopping in, collaborating with us, and listening. See you next week.

P.S. you can also support the podcast by purchasing items through our B+H affiliate link.

Below you can find a few more of my Colorado Trail photographs, and I still have so many more to edit!

Posted in Photography Podcast and tagged Podcast.

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