How to Plan a Long-distance Hike...
I strongly recommend careful planning for a long-distance hike. It beats showing up at the beginning unprepared. Deciding which trail to hike this year was easy for me. The CDT is the last of the big three long-distance trails in the US. Thus far, it’s a low-snow year in the San Juan Mountains in southern Colorado. That stretch of trail can be the most daunting part of the entire CDT. The Northern Rockies are getting lots of snow this year. Thus, I opted to start at the southern end.
I bought the following: A complete set of maps (including alternate routes) from Gerry Brown at Bear Creek Survey Service. The Yogi CDT Handbook. The Guthook app for my cell phone. Friends who have hiked the CDT provided me with lots of helpful suggestions—such as, “absolutely buy the Guthook app.” I also downloaded and printed the CDT Planning guide from the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s website.
Assuming a pace of 20 miles per day, I’ve planned my resupplies with the help of the essential Yogi Handbook. I don’t take many zero days, one about every three weeks. I’ll start hiking on April 30. That’s later than most other hikers who’ve posted on the CDT Class of 2018 Facebook page. I see no advantage in arriving at the South San Juan Wilderness in southern Colorado any earlier than my estimated date of June 12. Starting on April 30 still puts me at the Canadian border on September 22, more or less.
I won’t need any plan-ahead permits until I reach Brooks Lake Lodge in northwestern Wyoming. I’ll call from there to get a permit for Yellowstone National Park. Similarly, I’ll call from Helena, MT, for my Glacier National Park permit. I’ll ask my wife to mail my passport (to get into Canada and back in the US) to Benchmark Ranch along with some food treats.
Getting to the trail turned out to be easy. I’ll fly to Albuquerque, NM, on Thursday, April 26. Fellow hiker Rob will pick me up at the airport. We’ll drive to Silver City, NM, for the Continental Divide Trail Coalition’s Trail Days. On Sunday afternoon, I’ll find a ride to Lordsburg, NM. On Monday morning, I’ll catch the CDTC shuttle to the southern terminus at the Mexico border. I’m not sure how I’ll get back home after the hike. Perhaps I’ll hitch to Missoula, MT, and visit friends. I can fly to Denver from there.
My e-book, How to Get Started with Long-distance Hiking, provides much greater detail for planning your long-distance hike. Plus you’ll find useful information on selecting light-weight gear, physical and mental conditioning, and life along the trail. The appendix contains a detailed list of long-distance trails in the US. For more information, see longdistanceadventures.com.