Whenever I tell someone I’m going to walk from Mexico to Canada along the Continental Divide Trail they always have a ton of questions. You can see the hamster in their head go from zero to 100 in an instant. I have noted these questions and listed them here with my answers. It is my hope this post will enlighten most of you and answer any questions you might have. Feel free to ask any other I might have not covered.
Q: How long does it take to walk the CDT?
A: Typically it takes 4-6 months. I hope to average 20-25 miles a day, which would mean about 4-4.5 months. Most days I’m up by 5:30am, hiking by 6 and stop around 8 pm. I would guess I take about 2-3 off during that time, so around 11-12 hours of hiking per day.
Q: How long is the CDT:
A: The CDT is only about 70% done and unlike the AT or PCT there are many options or what us hikers call alternates. Depending on which route you take the CDT can be anywhere from 2700 to 3100 miles.
Q: When do you plan to start and finish?
A: Like the PCT the best time to start the CDT as a North Bounder is mid to late April. The PCT has the Sierras and the CDT has the San Juan Mtns. Start too soon on either one and you’ll hit snow. Start too late and the desert will be dry and water sources will be dry.
Q: Where does the CDT go?
A: The CDT has three southern terminuses (Columbus, NM Antelope Wells, NM; and Crazy Cook Monument) and two northern terminuses (Glacier NP or Chief Mountain Border Crossing. Chief Mountain is used only if one gets to the park and it’s been closed due to snow.) I plan on starting at Antelope Wells and finishing at Glacier. The CDT goes through New Mexico (770 miles), Colorado (800 miles), Wyoming (550 miles), Idaho (270 miles), and Montana (710 miles). See my previous post for MAP.
Q: What is the resupply like on the CDT?
A: It’s similar to the PCT, generally 5-7 days. (I’ll post a list of post offices in chase you want to send me some chocolate chip cookies or Little Debbie Swiss Rolls)
Q: How do you get your food?
A: There are three options to get ones food. #1 Is to have someone ship it to you General Delivery. #2 Buy it in town. #3 You can buy yourself food in one town and ship it ahead to the next town.
Q: How many pairs of shoes do you go through?
A: I have found shoes only last about 400 miles. If you estimate I hike 2800 miles then the answer is 7 pairs! ($910 worth) I will also use seven pairs of Superfeet insoles and 14 pairs of wool Ibex socks. All in all about $1300.
Q: How much does it cost to thru-hike the CDT?
A: I’m going to try to better track my cost this time but estimates are from $5000 +/- $1000.
Q: What do you eat on a typical day?
Oatmeal (some times cereal with powdered milk) or Bagel w/peanut butter
Strawberry Pop Tarts
Carnation Instance Breakfast with powdered milk and some protein powder
BBQ Pringles (They stay safe in the can and the can becomes a trash can when empty)
Bagel with garlic from a tube, pepperoni, pepper jack cheese (sometimes w/ tomato slices the first day out of town)
EL Fudge cookes
Lipton Sauce and Noodles or Rice, (mostly chicken flavor) I’ll add a Ramen noodle or Black Bean soup mix and two cloves of garlic (tomato if I have it) If I make this I usually make it very thick. I’ll lay some pepperoni on a tortilla and make 1-2 burritos with it and eat the rest from the pot.
My third meal option is Barilla Tortellini in a bag, w/ two cloves of garlic, lots of olive oil, and one of Knorr’s sauces (some times I would add summer sausage).
Dessert is usually a king size candy bar.
Between meals I try, TRY being the key word to eat two energy bars. Usually I get lazy or don’t think I have the appetite. Recently for the first time I actually added up the calories in this menu. Depending on one of three dinners the range was 6500-6800 calories. I know for a fact it’s not enough as I still lost 20 lbs.
I’m hoping to replace the Pop Tarts in the morning with a better shake, something with more calories and nutrients. Suggestion welcome. The base will be Carnation Instant Breakfast, dried yogurt, powdered milk, and Whey. I was already told to use a coffee bean grinder to grind flax and chia seeds.
I also need about double the protein I’m currently getting in this menu. This menu only offers about 60 grams.
For dinner time I’m looking to introduce some veggies, more meats, and some other options.
Q: What is your gear list?
Some will understand this and others won’t but I wish I could knock three pounds of this list. UPDATE: I think I might have found the 3 lbs. Here’s where you’ll really wonder. To save those three pounds it will cost me about $1000.
Q: Do you carry a gun or other form of protection?
A: No. Just my whits.
Q: Are you afraid of bears?
A: No. Most people think bears look and act like this.
Experience has taught me their more like this.
Now don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean every bear is the same and one will not harm you. The reality is they might. I feel that if I practice safe hiking technics I can minimize possible unwanted bear encounters. (not camping where I eat, hanging my food or using a bear canister, choosing good camp spots and simply being aware to my surroundings)
The top things that I’m afraid of on any trail are: (more annoyed with)
In no particular order
3) Bugs (Ticks, flies, mosquitoes, spiders and other biting ones)
4) Other small rodents
Things I’m not afraid of but respect:
4) Mountain lions
Q: What will you do in case of an emergency?
A: There is a device from SPOT that I could carry which has an emergency button that sends help to my location if needed, but I’ve hiked both the AT and PCT without that. I plan to carry just my iPhone.
Q: How will you be keeping a journal and where can I read it?
A: I will be getting an iPhone 6+ for the trip. The reason, size! I used Pocketmail on the PCT but the company is gone now. It was a great little device that was easy to type with both thumbs and sent and received emails. My current iPhone 5 is too small to make typing easy. It’s too easy to make unwanted mistakes. The iPhone 6+ is large enough that typing with your thumbs should be much better.
I will post my journal here on this site through the WordPress app I have. Whenever I get in cell range or to WiFi, I’ll update ya’ll.
Get out there