Here we go!
Tomorrow Reason and I board the bus for New Mexico and the Continental Divide Trail!
Ultimately, we begin 3 miles south of Columbus, NM at the Mexican border. From there, we'll walk something like 2,800 miles to the Canadian border at Glacier National Park.
The hike should take us about five months. We're starting later than our normal April 1 date because we don't want to reach Colorado's 14,000 ft San Juan mountains too soon. We'd rather give them some time to shed their winter snow. If we're lucky, there won't be too much new snow between now and mid-June when we expect to reach the San Juans.
We'll be hiking through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, and Montana along the Continental Divide through the Rocky Mountains. This divide runs from Alaska all the way to Tierra del Fuego. The Continental Divide marks the point at which water is shed either west to the Pacific Ocean or east to the Atlantic Ocean. There are multiple continental divides around the world, but the size and the high elevation of the mountains along this divide garnered this geographical feature capital letters as well as the name The Great Divide.
The CDT will be unlike any trail we've hiked before. The trail is only about 70% complete, meaning that sometimes we'll just use a map and compass and make it up. The CDT has three southern termini and two northern termini. The Divide itself splits in two to form the Great Divide Basin in Wyoming. We'll decide when we're there which part of the divide to follow.
The CDT is longer and higher in elevation than any other trail we've hiked. Here is a nifty schematic that displays the differences in elevation between the AT, the PCT and the CDT. I recommend clicking on the pdf of the whole thing. We'll be above 6,000 feet in elevation nearly the entire hike, and often we'll be at 8,000 ft and much higher.
Reason and I will also be a little on the lonely side. About 3,500 crazy folks attempt the Appalachian Trail each year; around 10-15% are successful. About 350 crazier folks set out from Mexico to Canada each year on the PCT; roughly 60% make it. About 30 folks who are really off their rockers attempt the CDT each year; I don't think anyone keeps track of who is successful.
We're excited! I hope we'll get to share some stories with you along the way. I plan to update this blog when I do come across public libraries and computers, so stay tuned.
I've posted a number of entries about our preparation. Some are intended for prospective hikers and may not be terribly exciting, but you never know.
If you'd like to learn about more about our (read: Cruiser's) planning for the CDT, start here and read forward.
Reason and I will miss all of you while we are away. We aim to grow up, settle down, find gainful employment, and possibly produce some grandchildren once we've reached Canada. But you know what they say about the best laid plans...
We appreciate all of the well-wishes. We'll be very proud upon successful completion of this trail as we will then be eligible for the coveted Triple Crown Award. Yep, there is actually incentive as well as positive reinforcement for this sort of irresponsible behavior.