Let’s talk a little bit about what I’m getting myself into…
In the thru-hiking world, The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is a well known long-distance trail, but outside of that community it’s not as well know as its counterparts, the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and the Appalachian Trail (AT). Combined, these three are talked about as the “triple crown” of long-distance trails in the United States.
“The CDT encounters some of the most dramatic and wild landscapes left on the planet as it traverses the backbone of America: the Great Continental Divide, which separates the watersheds that drain into the Pacific, Atlantic, and Arctic Oceans. One of the world’s greatest long-distance trails, the CDT is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of our 11 National Scenic Trails… As of 2020, the trail is 3059 miles long from the Crazy Cook Monument at the Mexican Border, to Waterton Lakes National Park at the Canadian Border. It is 95% complete, with only 164 Miles remaining to be protected on public land.” (https://continentaldividetrail.org/explore-the-trail/)
The trail travels through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho ,and Montana and winds its way across 20 National Forests and 3 National Parks (Rocky Mountain NP, Yellowstone NP, and Glacier NP). I couldn’t find a great map, but the one below gives the general idea.
So a pretty stellar trail I imagine! I’m so excited to go through all the different and unique settings.
Here’s some quick, without too much thought, ponderings I have…
Is New Mexico (NM) going to be as hot, dry, and windy as they say? The trail apparently goes up above 10,000 feet in NM, what’s that going to look like? I hear the sunrises and sunsets are magical and there’s just something about it that hikers seem to love, and… the Gila River Alternate gets raved about as being a truly special setting like no other.
Will I be stopped by the snow in Southern Colorado (or northern NM for that matter)? Colorado is the state I’m most familiar with having spent a Summer working in the Rockies and from visiting the state over the years. It’s going to offer up some of the most rugged terrain I’ve ever hiked and hosts the highest elevation sections of the trail. The highest point on the CDT, Grays Peak (14,278 feet), is one that I think I’ve actually day-hiked before, but it’ll be much different carrying my pack and coming up/down a completely different route. Also, the continuity of the high elevation seems the most difficult thing to me, particularly with the typical afternoon storms rolling through. So… you can probably tell, I’m a tad stressed about it.
“I got that “excited/scared” feeling. Like 98% excited, 2% scared. Or maybe it’s more – It could be two – it could be 98% scared, 2% excited but that’s what makes it so intense, it’s so – confused. I can’t really figure it out.” – Oscar (Armageddon)
What is this Wind River Range in Wyoming that I keep hearing about? And Yellowstone National Park! My family went on a super long road trip when I was a kid and we spent a few days in the park. I still have memories of the place, and can’t wait to get back to it 🙂
I don’t think I’ve ever been to Idaho and even though just cutting across the Northeastern corner, pretty excited to find out what it’s about. I hear they have potatoes, but those probably don’t grow in the mountains, eh?
Montana! And Glacier NP!!! Cannot wait. This area has only lived in my dreams. Now, I might be walking to it 🙂
Like on the PCT, I’ll be carrying all the food, water, shelter and gear I need along with me in my pack and my resupply plan is going to be similar as well… mostly stopping in towns along the way and occasionally shipping packages ahead to myself or having my home team (Dave H “The Master Trailsman” and “Switchback” Sheryl) ship them to specific points that are more remote and maybe don’t have grocery stores.
I’m expecting this to take about 5-6 months to finish the trail in its entirety. My beard will grow long. I will be quite filthy most of the time. Likely get some blisters and develop random hurts, pains, and injuries (hopefully nothing major!). Probably go through about 5 pairs of trail runners. And I’ll eat lots and lots of unhealthy food that will fill my body up with calories and energy. That’s the plan anyway. Sound fun?
Like when I was on the PCT, I hope to post updates of my adventure as frequently as I can. Not sure yet if I’ll keep my same style of posting daily journal-like posts or rather more general summaries. I think I’ll feel that out once on trail. Definitely lots of photos and videos though. My main goals for this blog are personal, to have this as a memory keepsake to look back on, and secondly, to allow those of my family and friends that are interested to see what I’m up to. On the PCT trek, I loved seeing posts from the people I care about and their support kept me moving forward. Y’all were a huge part of the experience!
The next few weeks before I start are going to be a bit chaotic trying to prepare all the physical items I need (gear, etc…), while also making a mental game plan (flights, logistics, resupply plans, remembering how to thru-hike, etc…), and fitting in a healthy amount of vacationing and spending time with the fam and friends 🙂