In exactly one month from now I’ll be hiking the CDT, also known as the Continental Divide Trail. I’ll be hiking northbound from New Mexico to Montana. It is known as one of the hardest thru hikes in the world. The full length of the trail is unknown, sources quote it as being anywhere from 4200km to 5200km.
Unlike many other thru hikes there are many trail options, known as alternates. There are many different maps with different routes. Making this hike a ‘choose your own adventure’ hike. I will need to rely a little bit more on my outdoor skills, navigation skills, knowledge of weather patterns and good judgement to make this hike a success. I shall embrace the brutality.
The CDT roughly follows the continental divide of the United States. The place where water either flows to the Atlantic or Pacific Oceans. So I should find myself up on ridge lines quite a lot. It is also known to traverse some of the most remote regions of the lower 48 part of USA. More info on the CDT can be found at the CDTC website.
On the trail I am known as Shepherd. I will be hiking the CDT with my former Pacific Crest Trail hiking buddy, Crunchmaster. While hiking together in Washington on the PCT we started to formulate a plan to for hiking the CDT. During the last couple of months we have discussed the hike and worked out our strategy.
I’m nervously ready to start hiking. But first I need to start some training hikes to toughen my hiking muscles and joints. Six months of cycle touring has kept me fit but with little weight loading on my body I will struggle initially.
As I’m an Aussie I’m faced with problems that locals don’t have. Things like visas, flights and logistical problems that are not always easy to solve from a distance. I will be arriving in USA around 8th April. Most of my gear will be waiting for me at a friends place in the desert of California. I will gather up all my gear, catch up with some old friends and make my way to the town of Silver City, NM. It will host the CDTC Trail Days from 26th-28th April.
If you are in the area come and say, G’day. I suspect I’ll catch up with some old hiking buddies, meet some new ones and learn a few things about the trail. I’ll start hiking the CDT on 18th April, exactly one month from today.
In the coming days I’ll be finalising my gear list which I will post. At this stage it looks like my pack base weight (all gear minus food, fuel and water) will be between 6kg -7kg. I’m happy with my gear.
I will also finalise my very flexible re-supply strategy for hiking the CDT. I will also post that very soon. So stay tuned. I can’t wait to start hiking. I’m ready.
When I hiked the PCT I kept up a daily blog post. I shall be doing the same for the CDT. You can follow my journey if you like. For those of you reading this blog post many months or years later, head on over to my Continental Divide Trail Page and start reading the daily journal.
In the last couple of years I’ve really gotten to know myself on an intimate level that most of my fellow humans can not grasp. I really fell alive. I am more at home in nature than in an office. I am more at home in a tent than in a house. I am more at home in the wilderness surrounded by a few like minded souls than in a city filled with millions of like minded people.
In recent years I have become both more confident and more competent. I am determined to hike from Mexico to Canada on the Continental Divide Trail. Heading back to the trail will feel like heading home. I shall embrace the brutality.
Read Next : Preparing for the CDT
Everything you need to know about hiking the CDT:
Complete Guide to Hiking the Continental Divide Trail
CDT Resupply Guide
CDT Gear List
26 thoughts on “Hiking the CDT”
“I shall embrace the brutality” awesome.
It’s a common saying on the CDT.
I’ve never done a long distance trail so I don’t understand the timing but would like to. I am from Colorado, now living in CT :-(, and never plan a backpacking trip before July. I was out there last June and it was cold and rainy and lots of snow in the high country. Went to Utah instead. So how are you planning to get through the San Juans and Collegiate Peaks?
There will be lots of snow. Maybe the weather is still cold. I take more clothes and equipment specific fir traveling in snow such as an ice axe and microspikes. I will also carry more food, I will need to eat more, and plan on travelling slower than if I were on trails,
The CDTC Shuttle is not running on 4/18. How do you plan on getting to Crazy Cook?
Hi Tartan, I have private transport with a friend. His family are dropping us off there. I was told it was fully booked quite a while ago. Look forward to meeting you on trail. You going to trail days?
I’m starting on May 2nd and will not be going to Trail Days. Have a great hike!
Gotta love the cantilevered trail over the river! I’m happy to read your glowing reports about Mexico and its people. Would like to spend more time down there on my boat.
Question: how do you get your copyright logo on each photo. I use an iPhone 6 and have the app: Camera+ but haven’t explored the app yet.
On my 2014/15 PCT trek, I hiked thru NorCal with a couple from Arizona: Carnivore and Purple. They southbounded the AT in 2013 and are start NB on the CDT in mid April. So maybe you’ll cross paths.
Going for a thru of the PCT this year, but next up may be the CDT so I’ll follow your blog to see how it went. Guess we’ll all be dealing with snow strategies this year given the amount of precip. Best of luck to you. ADL
I can’t help you with the Copyright logo. I used it on my computer to imprint it on my photos, I now only use my phone and haven’t worked out how to do it. I suspect if you sent yourself an email (to your phone) with the logo, then you could copy it onto your photos with the app. Maybe. Good luck on the PCT, if I see your buddies I’ll say G’day.
Yeah…looking forward to it. I head back to So Cal and the PCT in 8 weeks to hike and hand out more trail magic. -GoalTech
Good one GoalTech, you must be close to completing the whole trail.
Only 1,950 miles to go! :-) In addition to finishing south of where I left off I need to do Washington and all of Califonia between Seiad Valley and Kennedy Meadows south.
Good luck Brad, we will keep you in our thoughts and hope our paths will cross again.
Hi Ron and Laura. That would be great, you will know where to find me!
How wonderful! I am looking so forward to your daily posts from life on the CDT. Last summer, I started my days with a hot cup of coffee while reading your blog posts from the PCT.
How many people usually thru-hike the CDT every year?
I’m not sure about the CDT. I would guess 100 per year. Very soon you can read the CDT blog every morning.
Five or six years ago when my daughter and her husband hiked the CDT only 25 attempted to thru hike it from north to south. I don’t remember how many actually made it all the way. It will be interesting to see how things have changed.
I’d love to see or hear about the changes over time. Either way there shouldn’t be too many people. Although I know of about 6-10 people starting in the same day me.
Brad, did you know that Merrell will provide thru hikers a free pair of shoes?
Thanks for the info Rick. I used Merrell last year but this year Vasque Shoes are providing me with a great pair of hiking shoes.
Yeah! I will pay attention…
I look forward to your frequent postings, it is truly a wonderful adventure for me to follow your adventures. You are an inspiration for my little day hikes, and sometimes a short 2-3 day backpacking adventure. I will be one of your loyal followers. Bob in Palm Springs, CA. All The Best / Tread Lightly and Safely. Glad to hear you have a buddy on this adventure with you.
Good luck to you…I’ll be following along and will keep an eye out for when you hit Wyoming.