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Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

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Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Hetchy » Fri Feb 12, 2010 3:18 pm

Hi all! It's your crazy thru-hiker buddy Hetchy!
The PCT was awesome. All those places, particularly those Sierra Passes are a living thing in my mind now. You'all were not kidding about how astonishing the backcountry really is.
Well, apparently 2665 miles was not enough for me.
This May I will begin a thru-hike of the Continental Divide trail.. depending on route taken it could be 3100 miles. The CDT runs from New Mexico, through Colorado,Wyoming, and ends(for me) in Glacier National Park. (Grizzly Bear country! I am so excited about that! :bear: )
Anyhow, I have never set foot anywhere east of Arizona so the whole trail is a complete unknown for me. I am curious if anyone on this forum has any suggestions for great trails that parallel the geographic Continental divide. Because the CDT is only about 70 percent complete I will be using cross country,jeep roads, other trail systems to complete the walk from Mexico to Canada. I have the CDTS "Wolf" guides and plan to use the suggested routes and alternates from them but would really like other opinions/options.
I know you'all have a great variety of knowledge outside the Sierra. Any advice appreciated. Town info is awesome also since I will need to resupply frequently( every 5-7 days or 150 miles or so).
I know I have not been around a while.. don't take that personally though.. my mind has been in turmoil since completing the PCT. I will be 41 years old this April and I do not intend to let another 40 years go by without hiking those trails. My god! I have never seen the Rocky Mountains with my own eyes!
Thanks in advance for any information. I have been reading everything I can get my hands on about the CDT, but actual knowledge from folks that have been there always trumps books in my mind.
Time for another adventure!
Oh Yea, I will be hiking the Appalacian trail in 2011 to complete my triple crown. Dreaming big has always been easy for me. The only difference is now I am living those dreams! I would never have had the confidence to tackle the long trails without the the lessons I learned and continue to learn from the Sierra. She is a patient if unforgiving teacher. Well, I am still here so I guess she is a little bit forgiving! lol!
Cheers- Hetchy :D
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On the way down to the Rae Lakes Basin. Socks and I were astonished at this area! The Painted Lady, the trail itself weaving between the lakes.. FIN dome! If I had not seen it myself I never would have believed it possible! The Sierra will always have my heart and soul. :nod:
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby copeg » Fri Feb 12, 2010 7:47 pm

No suggestions from me since I've only been anywhere along the trail twice (and those briefly), but best of luck on another adventure! The CDT seems like a rugged adventure, given its not even complete yet. Keep us posted!
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Snow Nymph » Fri Feb 12, 2010 9:00 pm

I'm not much help, but love your enthusiasm! Excited for you! :D I've only done a loop backpack in Montana, and the Wind Rivers Trail (south to north). Beautiful country!

Good luck!

Cori
:bear: :bear: :bear: We didn't see any. :(
Expose yourself to your deepest fear; after that, fear has no power, and the fear of freedom shrinks and vanishes. You are free . . . . Jim Morrison


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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Mon Mar 01, 2010 4:52 pm

I can only comment on the section through the Wind Rivers. It really depends on if you simply want to go fast or are willing to take extra time to see stuff. The suggested CDT takes a route that is actually west of the Divide and you only see some of the really good stuff from a distance. In general the Highline Trail is more scenic than the Lowline Trail, and the Fremont Trail is generally more scenic than the Highline Trail. I think the main variations are for the southern part of the range. Here is one route suggestion that stays failry close to the Divide but does require a few short off-trail sections to connect the trails. This route may slow you down a day or two from the lower route.

I assume you would come by South Pass. If you need supplies, I think it is best to hitch to Lander where there is free camping at the City Park and really good grocery stores (check out the NOLS store - you can buy backpack food that NOLS students use) and good backpack equipment stores. Farson has very limited supplies - typical junk food you get at gas station groceries. Pinedale has a bit less in choice of groceries and no free camping. But they have an aquatic center - $5 for all day soaking in the pools! Free WiFi at library in both towns. If you choose to resupply at Pinedale it is a short-day walk out from Seneca Lake and easy to hitch the 16 miles to town. If you resupply in Lander and are not hung-up on staying on the CDT you could take the Middle FOrk Trail from Sinks Canyon to intersect the Ice Lakes trail and proceed as I describe below.

Assuming you want to stay "true" to the Divide, get back to South Pass and take any number of the dirt roads that go to Sweetwater Gap Campground (BLM). The Sweetwater River is a good water source even in the driest years. I believe the CDT as most people do it stays on lower trails basically going to Big Sandy on the west slope of the mountains. The route below is a lot nicer, not really longer, but more ups and downs and trails that are a bit more difficult to follow.

Take the Sweetwater Gap trail over Sweetwater Gap and drop to Tayo Park. Pick up the Ice Lakes Trail (no sign) and go north to the North Popo Agie River. Go west to Lonesome Lake (no camping within 1/4 mile. Short off-trail section over Texas Pass and pick up use-trail down Washakie Creek and intersect trail to Raid Lake and continue north on the Fremont Trail and/or Highline Trails that go all the way to Green River Lakes. There are many variations that get you closer to the Divide along your way. The off-trail section over Texas Pass is not really hard but it will not be fast.

Another scenic alternative is to take the Lizard Head Trail from Cirque of the Towers and intersect the Bears Ears Trail - follow this past Grave Lake and over Hailey Pass - cut over to a short but difficult pass between Raid Peak and Mt. Bonneville. Then drop down to Raid Lake to pick up the Highline/Fremont Trails.

Another route would be to go from Block and Tackle Hill, up the Little Sandy, over Temple Peak Pass and drop to Big Sandy to pick up the Highline Trail. The trails shown on the maps for this route are not maintained and can be difficult to follow.

I just completed an off-trail guidebook and should be selling it from a website within a few weeks. There are off-trail routes that are spectacular that stay almost on the Divide, but it would take 2-3 weeks. I think you would be more intererested in the maintained trails covered by the existing guidebook so you could really go fast. The trails in the Wind Rivers are not always well marked so a GPS is probably quite useful. The trails are also not as distinct as the PCT. The Boulder River is difficult to cross early season.

By the way, there are grizzly bears in the northern Wind Rivers too - and in Yellowstone Park. You will not have to wait to get to Montana!
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Hetchy » Thu Mar 04, 2010 7:55 pm

Thanks a million! This is exactly the stuff I am looking for. I'm checking my maps for Wyoming as I write this. Though I will attempt to remain as close the the divide as possible I am definitely not trying to be "pure" in regards to the route.. just so long as I walk a continuous route. If I hitch down for supplies I will hitch back up to the same spot to continue my hike, just like I did on the PCT. I am really happy to find out there is the possiblity of seeing Grizzer Bears sooner than Montana. It has always been a dream of mine to see one in the wild.
The Wind River Range is one of those mysterious (for me anyways) places on the trail that has been very understated by the books and journals I have read about the Continental Divide Trail.
You have given me a lot to reasearch and it is great to add to my possibilities for alternate routes due to the fact that a hike of this length and duration is always unpredictable. Last year on the PCT we were lucky to only have 2 reroutes.. one due to the Yellow Legged frog which was a highway walk (not primetime hiking but whatever) and a fire in Washington which sent us along Waptus lake instead of Spectacle lake.
Trail towns are still a complete mystery. I am getting the Yogi Guidebook for the CDT which no doubt has excellant trail town info. Her PCT town guide was a thru hikers Bible to us on that trail.
I am bracing for perhaps more primitive resupply options along the CDT but am determined to support local buisness with a "buy as I go" strategy. I will mail maps and food to myself from the trail in places.
Thanks to you and everyone who responded.. y'all are still my "first" trail family! :bear: :D
PS. I will definitely be interested in your Book. Please let me know when it is availiable!
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Wandering Daisy » Fri Mar 05, 2010 7:41 pm

The Bridger Wilderness map (FS map) is not a topo map but it is really good to show the locations of current roads and trails. Some of the trails shown on the USGS 7.5-minute maps are essentially overgrown an lost. There is also a BLM office in Rock Springs that you may want to call to see if they have ORV maps for the Red Desert. Also, since the CDT is done on horses you may search the internet on trail-riding websites. Last year I ran into a gal at Sweetwater Gap with two horses who probably was doing the CDT, or part of it. There are a few miles on the trail where a lot of timber is down due to an old fire- she had a saw and had to cut her way through a few times! It is just a nuicence for a hiker, but really hard on horses. By the way, the trail that is shown on USGS maps from Sweetwater Trailhead up Larson Creek to Little Sandy Lake is impassable due to the same old forest fire.

I'm sure you are aware of the current bark beetle infestation. There are a lot of dead trees and fallen trees. If a trail is not maintained, there will be extensive deadfall. If you call the Bridger Forest office in Pinedale they can give you an update on trail maintenance. In general, the Fremont Trail and Highline trails are above the beetle infestation - but you may run into this going north from Green River Lakes.

The Wind Rivers has an intense but thankfully short mosquito hatch. The CDT happens to hit a lot of areas that are known for mosquitoes. Generally July is the worst. Last year I did not have mosquitoes until about July 10th - then really bad until the first week in August.
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Hetchy » Mon Mar 22, 2010 8:02 pm

Thanks Wandering Daisey,
I am adding your input to my "cheat sheet". I have printed out Jonathan Ley's maps of a possible CDT route. On the backs of each 8.5X11 map page I am photocopying data like yours and other folks above have suggested. This kind of first hand info is GOLDEN for me. I don't know exactly what is in store and they say no two thru hikers take the same CDT! All I can do is gather as much info as I can and set out hiking.
As far as the downed trees I am hoping my time in Glacier Peak Wilderness in WA has taught me some patience in that regard. It was funny but I happened upon Doug and "Chief" in that section of trail. Both of them nearly half my age.. and Chief was a Marine! I was able to keep up with the youngsters as we went under, over, and through hundreds of blowdowns on the original PCT through there. It became kinda fun. Actually one of my most memorable moments was when Chief and Doug struggled to climb a huge blowdown some 20 high and all covered in moss.. They were quite astounded when after they had climbed up and labored down there I was standing on the other side. I had simply stepped a few feet to the right and found a depression in the ground had formed a cave under the deadfall! Sometimes the wisdom of age trumps the vitality of youth!
Thanks again for you help! :D :D :D
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Hetchy » Sun Mar 28, 2010 2:58 pm

Here is my tentative plan to hike the 3100 mile Continental Divide Trail. Yes the mileages don't match. The nature of the beast is that regardless of tech the mileages are still "wheeled" manually off maps.. or traced on screens. Anyhow here is how I began to dissect the task ahead... Hiking from Mexico to Canada as near to the Continental Divide as reasonably possible and still complete the hike in one season.
# Resupply Location Distance Days Zero
Days Notes/Mailing Info
1 Columbus New Mexico 88029 0 0 0 New Mexico/Mexican Border
2 Deming NM 88030 57 3 0 Florida Mountains Send a resupply box from Deming to Pie Town
3 Mimbres NM 88049 110 5 1 Cookes Range
4 Pie Town NM 87827 158 8 1 Gila Wilderness
5 Grants NM 87020 91 5 1 Tularosa Wilderness
6 Cuba NM 87013 109 6 0 Mount Taylor
7 Chama NM 87520 141 7 1 Ghost Ranch Flat Rate Box with Maps, Iceaxe, shoes (Chama is along HWY 17 south from Cumbres Pass)
8 Pagosa Springs Colorado 81147 67 4 1 Wolf Creek Pass HWY 160 (West from Pass to Pagosa Springs)
9 Silverton CO 81130 82 4 1 Via Stony Pass 4WD roads west from Pass (essentially I have no idea how I am getting there.. just gonna wing it.)
10 Salida CO 99 5 0 Monarch Pass HWY 50 (North from Pass to Salida)
11 Leadville CO 80461 106 6 1 Via Tennesee Pass HWY24
12 Silverthorne CO 80498 57 3 0 Dillon CO? HWY 70
13 Grand Lake CO 99 4 1 Alternate Rocky Mountain National Park Loop Hike
14 SteamBoat Springs CO 80487 73 4 1 Via fish Creek Falls Trail Send a resupply Box UPS ONLY from Steamboat Springs to C/O 3 Forks Muddy Gap Lander Route Rawlins, WY 82301
15 Encampment/Riverside WY 88 3 0 Battle Pass east 15 mi hwy 70 Alternate is Saratoga WY 17 mi
16 Rawlins Wyoming 82301 82 3 1 Flat rate box with Maps and Shoes Send a resupply box from Rawlins WY to Togwotee Mtn. Lodge 16.5 miles east Hwy 26- 287 Moran, Wy 83013 UPS or USPS
17 Muddy Gap 87 4 0 Muddy Gap WY HWY 220
18 Lander WY 121 5 1 Sweet Water Station WY(Wolf Route) HWY 287
19 Togwotee Mtn Lodge WY 148 7 1 Via Togwatee Pass Hitch 10 mi or alternate route no hitch HWY 26/287
20 Macks Inn Idaho 140 7 1 Tarhgee Pass hwy 20
21 Lima Montana 59739 110 5 0 Lima/Monida HWY 15 Monida Pass (Lima is North on 15)
22 Leadore Idaho 83464 103 4 1 Bannock Pass (Mail Drop!) HWY 29 Railroad Canyon Road (East from Pass to Leadore)
23 Wisdom MT 59761 121 5 0 Chief Joseph Pass HWY 43 (East to Wisdom)
24 Butte MT 59701 139 6 1 HWY 15 (south to Butte)
25 Helena MT 59601 94 4 0 HWY 12 (East to Helena)Flat Rate box with Maps and shoes
26 Lincoln MT 59639 70 3 1 Rodgers Pass HWY/Road 200 (south to Lincoln)
27 East Glacier MT 158 8 1 Maria's Pass
28 Waterton Lake 114 5 0 Montana/Canadian Border
29 Notes: 0 0 0 This is just a tentative plan. Once on trail where I actually walk and resupply is anyones guess. I have attempted to estimate distances based on the various resources availiable. It is most likely a very conservative figure. I just need to make estimates to figure how much food to carry between resupplies.
30 and Notes 0 0 0 I also have attempted to find routes that provide the most miles beyond a resupply town before actually going in to resupply. This hopefully means less miles walked with a full pack.
31 More Notes 0 0 0 I am aware there are many other resupply locations between what I have listed. Since my strategy is mostly "buy as I go" I will take advantage of any opportunities to "NOT" carry 150 miles worth of supplies at a time if possible.
32 .. ditto 0 0 0 I estimated zero days just to keep track/estimate of my total number of days for the hike. I have no idea where and when I will zero.
Totals: 2824.0 133

:D
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby rlown » Sun Mar 28, 2010 3:19 pm

Hetchy,

Where are you posting your trip journal this time out? I'm assuming not postholer, but i could be wrong. Let us know. Fun to follow your path.

Russ
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Re: Continental Divide Trail Suggestions

Postby Hetchy » Tue Mar 30, 2010 5:32 pm

Thanks Russ, I am in fact going to use Postholer again. I will be under the CDT section this time but if you search for my name Matt Edwards it should bring up my latest journal already in progress. I am really tempted to use the GPS feature this time. I can either add gps coordinates or use a spot device and Postholer plots it on the Map that y'all can see and track progress. I just don't know.. I am a strange dude. I love sharing my journey but also like to be "off the grid" sometimes. I might consider saving GPS waypoints and posting them a week behind. That way I cannot be tracked too closely. It sounds strange but some folks were stalked last year. Nothing bad came out of it but with the internet you just never know who is watching. Kinda like what you said about Facebook. Ya, know they(facebook) are messing with their privacy setting again! It is a shame cause ALL my PCT buddies are on there and I talk to them all the time. It would be a shame to have to close my facebook account and lose such an easy way to keep in touch.
Anyhow, I digress, I will post my journal as often as I can on Postholer.com :D
I am so friggin' excited about this trip! I can't wait to reach Cumbres pass and climb the first big snowbanks! YEEHAA!

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