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Thru-Hiking the Continental Divide Trail

The Continental Divide Trail is an intimidating trail. Still shrouded in a veil of mystery, relatively few have completed the 3,100 mile, high elevation trek that runs the spine of North America. Said to be 70% completed, it is touted as one of the most rugged and remote trails out there. Stories of extreme remote deserts, thunderous snow-capped mountains, and cross country hiking with no trail is what filled my head whenever I thought of the CDT. Even though I had one long distance trail under my belt, having done the Pacific Crest Trail in 2011 (a record high snow year), I assumed the CDT was out of my league and never considered it as an option. Then things began to change.

Hiking CDT

The CDT runs 3,100mi along the spine of N. America from Mexico to Canada.

Be sure to check out the next part of this article

12 Responses to Thru-Hiking the Continental Divide Trail

  1. Dana November 6, 2013 at 2:34 am #

    Thanks for sharing the trip, particularly the emotional aspect of it.

  2. letshike2 November 6, 2013 at 4:04 am #

    Wired, it was a wonderful article. The Mariposa is on sell too, so a great time for Gossamer to feature you. And this is just my opinion from your written feelings of the trail but…
    The one major thought that comes to my mind is simply that you just did not “fall in love” with the CDT. You were unable to form trust with it, so never grew to love it. But really out of all the hikers out there I think the CDT “bent you over” the least. Except maybe Mntn Rat! And you kept a great attitude and enjoyed it anyways.
    And I used to get goosebumps when I thought of hiking the CDT it scared me so bad knowing someday I will try it. Since this CDT class of 2013 hikers went through so has my fear. So Thanks.

  3. Christopher "iPod" Condap November 6, 2013 at 10:57 am #

    Yay, Wired! It’s lovely to hear your views on each section of the CDT, especially since I’m not in the Portland area. Since this was posted on Gossamer Gear, I figured it’d be more about equipment but it was surprisingly personal.

    I’m very much looking forward to hearing about your upcoming AT hike (I’m assuming that’s next) and your views having hiked the PCT and CDT first, which is my plan too. It’s been very convenient for me to read about your PCT experience as a newcomer to through-hiking, and now hear about the CDT being your second hike.

    Okay, so I’m actually just doing the same hikes you do but a year afterwards so I can read your blogs first. I’m not ashamed of this. 🙂

  4. Rodgwood November 6, 2013 at 3:32 pm #

    Wired, I really enjoyed your GG Trail Ambassador article. It must be tough to summarize 3000+ miles in a short narrative, but it was well done and very honest. I was wondering, who took the final photograph in your article? What an amazing shot — seems like that could be award winning! The mountains are so striking and intimidating, yet your pose says “Veni, vidi, vici” — you came, you saw, you conquered. Congratulations!

  5. Caroline / Puppy November 6, 2013 at 1:32 pm #

    Wired! You are so talented at reducing things to their elements, and such an inspiration to me and so many others. When I called you from Wasington last month to (mostly) vent about fear-mongering, your advice was to “just do it” (hike the PCT). I thought it was hilarious that someone in the room with me was a Huge fanboy of yours, having skipped studying for an economics exam once to instead read your entire blog. Those words are so valuable to people in doubt. It really is just one foot in feont of the other.

    Your writing is still one of the only online sources of info for people curious about US thru-hiking, and it’s so good and thorough. I appreciate how realistically you present the trails: no, they aren’t easy. But you do fall in love with them. And sometimes you don’t. You don’t need to miss the CDT, you just need to enjoy the moment. And though you probably didn’t enjoy all the moments on the CDT, I’m sure you would never look back and regret your hike.

    You’re amazing! You hiked the CDT! All downhill from there…

  6. Wired November 6, 2013 at 2:35 pm #

    All your comments are so wonderful! Sorry I am unable to respond to them individually here. So happy I can honestly share the trail with so many future hikers and have such amazing support:) Lifting that veil on the big scary monster:)

  7. Diane November 8, 2013 at 3:27 pm #

    Loved your candor and honesty. And I really love that picture of you on the peak in Glacier! Beautiful!. I have now hiked Glacier and the Winds and seem to have the bug growing in me to hike the rest of the CDT. Your story only adds fuel to the flames.

  8. David Spratt November 11, 2013 at 1:33 am #

    Last picture is great, great, great!!! Could be the cover photo for an outdoor magazine. I enjoy reading your trip reports. They give me inspiration to hike the AT next year during my seventh decade before I get too old. Thanks.

  9. Warren November 11, 2013 at 7:20 am #

    Erin, as always, loved reading your article. And I can’t wait to read more of you on trail and off. Thanks for sharing about your own personal evolution on the trail. Not only did it inspire me, but I think it inspired those who have posted above. Go!Erin!Go!

  10. November 13, 2013 at 6:24 pm #

    Wired, Great hike and great synopsis. I think I have an inkling of your mood vis-a-vis the CDT when I did about 150 miles of the GET this September. Serious business it was; hard to let one’s guard down and just relax and enjoy. I found this last sentence of yours to indicate that, while you didn’t enjoy the route finding requirements of the CDT, you feel compelled to embrace similar trails. To wit:

    “It was an amazing experience and one that has given me more confidence in hiking challenging trails independently. I feel like I’ve only scratched the surface of what I can do as a hiker and I look forward to finding more challenging adventures to share with the world.”

    So, which is it? Do you want that added burden of the challenge that comes with sketchy trail, or instead to hike well-signed tread that allows the worrying mind to relax?

  11. Peter November 16, 2013 at 2:04 am #

    I work at the library you stopped at in Grants, New Mexico. It was enjoyable meeting you and reading your updates. Congratulations on finishing the Continental Divide Trail!

  12. Wired November 16, 2013 at 11:34 pm #

    Hi again everyone:) I just love all these comments. Thank you so much for letting me know you’re out there in the blogosphere. B.D.W.Ren, your question is a grand one I contemplate often. I absolutely love the trail on many levels for different reasons. On the PCT, I think I most needed that time to wander inward as long as outward. I was surprised by my reaction to the CDT. I knew it would require more attention, but I didn’t realize how it would hit my trigger/nerve of needing to trust and feel welcomed in my surroundings. I find myself wanting a balance of both as I enjoy both the challenges and the meditative aspect. I will feed my worried mind with the AT this summer where a map isn’t even needed and I will finish it by hopefully adding on the more remote Long Trail in Vermont…thinking in 2015 of doing the lesser traveled Pacific Northwest Trail and Great Divide Trail in Canada.

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