Want to document and share your hike with friends and family?
Well, let’s make it official - I am planning on hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) going northbound (NOBO). My start date is April 26 from the Crazy Cook monument in the boot hill of New Mexico.
The crazy thing is that this is my first thru hike; I have not hiked another long trail. Well, I haven’t hiked very much at all until preparing for the CDT. That is not very common for those hiking the CDT. Most will have hiked either the Appalachian Trail (AT) or the Pacific Coast Trail (PCT) or both! So this is going to be quite a challenge. For my friends and family especially, the obvious question is “Why?”. The answer to that is not easy — so I will save that for later. Let’s just stick with the ‘what’ for now.
The CDT is a trail that roughly follows the Continental Divide through five states: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. (If you don’t know what the Continental Divide is, just Google it and re-learn at little US geography.) From the border with Mexico to the border with Canada.
It’s length? Well, there isn’t an easy answer. Some say about 3100 miles, but that is an exaggeration. If you hike the officially designated Continental Divide National Scenic Trail (CDNST) it is 3011 miles. But notice I say ‘if’. The Continental Divide Trail Coalition recognizes a thru hike of the CDT if you “have completed a journey between the Mexican and Canadian Border along the Continental Divide.” Unlike other long trails in the US, alternate routes that deviate from the ‘official trail’ have become common, either due to the scenery they provide, access to water sources, or (quite frankly) because they are shorter. For the route I am planning, it will be about 2,700 miles.
How much time to do this? For going NOBO the trail ends at one of several locations in Glacier National Park. It is not uncommon for the Park to be closing down due to the first winter storms by the third week of September. So I am saying I need to be done by the 15th of September. That gives me less than five months! So why not start earlier? Again the answer is driven by weather, in particular snow in the San Juan mountains of southern Colorado. If I get there too early, roughly before the first week of June, the snow pack will be too high to hike that section without either waiting, skipping to another section, or taking an alternate/shortcut around the area, which I don’t want to do, if possible.
One final note for this first post. I am 55 years old, a somewhat old guy for this. But that is not uncommon for the AT, PCT, or CDT. Past hiker surveys show hiker ages grouped around younger folks in their 20s and the older folks who are retired, semi-retired, or just looking for something different. So I won’t be the only older one out there by far.
I have no particular plans for how often to post here prior to the hike. There is definitely more to say and talk about but it needs to be broken up. For now, got to get out and do some training! What an adventure. I can’t wait to see what God has in store for me!