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You can find a journal of my '99 CDT trek at www.dickebird.com (It may give
the trail a little personality.

With the CDT a long way from being completed you will find a GPS handy,
often. Weight is not a huge factor. I carried it in my pocket usually and
would check it when in doubt a couple times a day. To stay on the Divide
from the border to Silver City I used it many times a day as the actually
Divide is very obscure in that area. I had a very cheap Magellan
Blazer--under a hundred bucks that would pick up several satellites in
under a minute. I used the GPS in conjunction with the Delorme map pages
and it solved many confusing situations for me. In Colorado I would come to
many snow covered areas in storms that I know I would have made wrong route
decisions without the GPS. I walked a few hundred miles with a guy named
Andy. He was an excellent compass man. I proved him wrong several times and
made a GPS believer out of him. I had never used one before the CDT trip. I
guarantee it will save you a lot of long, wrong miles on the CDT. 
I had a heavy, late spring snow season in Colorado. This year the dry west
was great for CDT hikers in Colorado but shut them down in Montana with the
fires. The snow trouble starts as soon as you hit Colorado. Cumbres pass
was deep on Memorial Day of 99 and the trail was poorly marked. I spent a
day floundering around in waist deep snow then came back to Chama,NM and
got snowshoes. I took a lower route and the Colorado Trail until Mid-June
when the top melted out and still had a lot of snow problems. Even with
snowshoes I would posthole in rotten snow. I ran into three other
thru-hikers and we all experienced the same problems in Colorado. Walking
Forest Service roads along the shadow of the Divide does not eliminate snow
problems. Those roads go over the same passes and in our case were under as
much as 15 feet of snow in early June.
I don't want to make routing sound difficult. It was not. I could find
little info on trail existence and routing before I left. I found a lot
more actual trail than I thought I would. I can walk the whole trip again
in my head and can give you any help you need on sections that concern you.
This is my route. There may be new sections of trail now, so check with the
CDTA and CTDS. You can use a Delorme book to follow these instructions and
get a feel for a route. If it helps I will be glad to do the same for CO,
WY, and ID/MT.

New Mexico--Cut through the Gray Ranch use GPS to follow the Divide to
Silver City. From Silver City there is good trail thru the Gila and Aldo
Leopold Wilderness. People that run the KOA in Silver City are active trail
members and have good up-to-date info. From the Gila cross the Plains of
San Agustin. There is a wind mill right in the middle. It is also the
largest ranch in Catron County. Come out at Horse Springs and take Horse
Springs Rd. north about 30 miles to Pie Town. From Pie Town walk the dirt
roads through Tres Lagunas and on to El Malpais wilderness. I would suggest
staying on the Seven Crater Scenic dirt road around the west side of El
Malpais. I didn't and ran into some rugged, dry bushwhacking through this
incredible interesting area. From there walk FR50 and 49 through the Zuni
Canyon and into Grants. From Grants go north on Hwy 547 (you walk right
past the Cibola Forest Service office. Like the rest of the FS offices you
stumble on to, they know nothing. But stop and get a map.) past the
prison--it will make you feel free like never before--to FR 193. Follow
FR193 to the top of Horace Mesa and toward the base of Mt. Taylor. Just a
few hundred feet past a junction with FR5something you will see a Trail
Marker T77 on your right. Don't miss it. It sets back off the road a way.
This will take you to the summit of Taylor. Off the back side of Taylor
follow FR453. I found the Wolf guide helpful here in locating springs. I
never did find Barrel Spring the night before the ghost town of Cabezon.
The guide completely fell apart there and I can't tell you my route to
Cuba. It was just a dry, jumble of roads. I would have been in trouble
except a bunch of hot air balloonist from Albuquerque saved my butt. They
gave me smoked salmon from Pikes Market in Seattle, three kinds of exotic
beer, pita bread, cherry tomatoes and, oh yea, some water. If I were to do
it over again, and I would love to, I would get a good BLM map of the area
where Cibola NF stops and Cuba. From Cuba it is easy route finding--and
trail--through the San Pedro Wilderness and on to the Ghost Ranch.
Although,I had a big problem there. I hiked into a two day sleet storm with
no rain gear and had food poisoning from one of the wonderful meals I had
in Cuba. I was sick for a week and ended up road walking from the Ghost
Ranch to Cumbres Pass. The route from the Ghost Ranch is confusing but I
think you will find David Pattersons book very helpful there as well as
many other areas. I carried his guide and used it often. 
You will also find a lot of wonderful people along this trail more than
willing to help you. There is no lack of trail magic along  the CDT no
matter what route you decide on. 
--Keep Smilin', Dick E. Bird
The Dick E. Bird News
P.O. Box 377
Acme, MI 49610

The Dick E. Bird News
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