[Date Prev][Date Next][Thread Prev][Thread Next][Date Index][Thread Index]

[cdt-l] CDT Planning - the (very long) short version

As Paul noted, the one thing I did right at the CDT presentation at the
Gathering was put together a handout that has an abbreviated version of our
posts in 2000 on basic CDT planning.  That handout is attached.  I hope it

CDT Planning Info - Resources

Books:  Since Ginny and I are readers, let=92s talk about books first.  The=
aren=92t that many yet, but they=92re multiplying.  So =96 the short list :
1. The best first =96 =93Where the Waters Divide=94 by Karen Berger and Dan
2. Also very good - the Westcliffe Publishing =91coffee table=92 books =96 =
New Mexico=92s Continental Divide Trail=94, by our own David =93Whiteroot=
Patterson, and the companion volumes for Montana &  Idaho, Wyoming, and
Colorado.  They have lots of beautiful pictures and some interesting trail
journals.  Keep in mind that most of these weren=92t written from a
=91thruhiking=92 viewpoint, but they=92re still good.
3.  Brand new and very enjoyable =96 Cindy Ross=92 =93Scraping Heaven=94 ab=
out her
multi-year journey with Todd and the children along the CDT.
4.  Very good, but different =96 =93The Great Divide=94 by Stephen Pern (ou=
t of
print but check Amazon)
5. The original =96 useless for a thruhike except as an example of how not =
do it, but entertaining -- =93The Ultimate Journey=94 by Eric and   Tim Ryb=
6. Too short to be really useful, but a good story =96 =93The Great  Backpa=
Adventure=94 by Chris Townsend.
7. Out of print but may be available at used book stores =96 =93Along the
Continental Divide=94 by Michael Robbins.  This is a National   Geographic

Those books are all good reading and they=92ll give a =91flavor=92 for the =
but the books you really want if you=92re gonna thruhike are =96

1. The best (that=92s our opinion), most detailed =96 and with the best wat=
source information is the set sold by Jim Wolf=92s Continental   Divide Tra=
Society.  These guidebooks are written for a North to South hike, except fo=
Northern Montana which is written in both directions.  They=92re available =
http://www.cdtsociety.org  (or the temporary address
http://www.7cities.net/~roadrunner/CDTShome.htm).  In some cases (Northern
MT, Northern CO and WY) there is both a guidebook and a supplement.  Get
both as the supplement details all the changes since the guidebook was
written.  In his newsletters, Jim also provides current trail updates from
current hikers.  If you can, get the past issues for the past 5 years so yo=
will get firsthand descriptions of reroutes and alternate routes.  It will
save a lot of aggravation on the trail to do the research before you leave.
Reading journals this year, I=92ve noticed a lot of people who were surpris=
by a reroute that I know was described in recent newsletters.  It takes a
bit more work to coordinate guidebooks and supplements, but the information
on water sources is worth the effort.
2. The Westcliffe Publishing series of  =93Official CDT=94 guidebooks.  We
haven=92t used all of these guidebooks   and haven=92t had time to check al=
l of
them out thoroughly.  But based on our use of the Colorado guidebook and a
read-through of the others, they=92re reasonably good guide books =96 with =
following caveats =96 they have errors in mileage and detail (as does every
other guidebook ever written) and they lack the detail that Jim Wolf=92s CD=
guidebooks provide.  The New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming books are written
for a South to North hike, while the Colorado book is written for a North t=
South hike.  Some of the books only present the =91official=92 routes, whic=
h can
be a problem, if you prefer an alternate route or if weather concerns force
a different choice.  The New Mexico book does present alternate routes,
though there are gaps.  Word from the trail in 2002 was that the Montana
book had some really serious problems.  These are available at
www.amazon.com or at the CDTA Web site at: http://www.cdtrail.org/store.htm=
. Check for the best  price.  Be aware, these books were just published =96
and they=92re already out of date.  That=92s unavoidable when you=92re writ=
about a trail   that=92s still =93Under Construction=94.
3. David Patterson=92s =93Alternative Routes for the Continental Divide Tra=
is a good addition to your planning process.

There are also a couple of videos available =96
1. Joe and Carol McVeigh thruhiked the CDT in 1991 and they made a video of
their hike titled =93Border to Border II=94.  There are two versions =96   =
a short
version and a long version.  We have both.  If you=92re gonna  hike, you mi=
want the long version =96 it has a little more information.  These are
available from Jim Wolf at CDTS =96They may also be available from   Purple
Dragon Ventures, P.O. Box 164, Virginia City, NV 89440.  We   haven=92t tri=
that address
2. Lynne Whelden released a video in 2000  titled =93How to Hike  the
Continental Divide Trail=94.  It=92s almost 7 hours long and has a LOT of
information.  Lynne videotaped a number of thruhikers =96 and  used those
interviews to put together a collection of information, techniques and
opinions from those who have =93been there and done   that=94 - or were try=
to do so.  Yeah =96 we=92re in it, but it=92s good  anyway.  You may be abl=
e to
get it from CDTS or from Lynne Whelden. His   address is 90 E. Union St,
Canton, PA 177724.  URL: www.Lwgear.com
The Continental Divide Trail Society (CDTS) was founded by Jim Wolf 25 year=
ago, and is one of the best sources for information about hiking the trail.
The CDTS Web page is at: www.cdtsociety.org and contains information about
the trail and about thruhiking.  The Society is hiker-friendly, sells
guidebooks, map packs, videos and books, and issues a twice-a-year
newsletter (DividEnds) which includes realistic state of the trail and
re-route information, information about other hikers who may be out there,
etc.   At the moment, the website is being redone, so there  is a temporary
address at http://www.7cities.net/~roadrunner/CDTShome.htm
The other CDT organization is the Continental Divide Trail Alliance (CDTA).
They are less hiker oriented and more organizationally oriented  If you=92r=
interested in trail =91politics=92 and assisting with trail construction, t=
may be the place to go.  They have been active in organizing trail
construction/maintenance trips, according to the website.  The Alliance als=
issues a newsletter and sells guidebooks and maps.     The CDTA URL is:
ALDHA-West also issues a newsletter that often has articles about the CDT.
www.aldhawest.org  The Website also has several CDT-related journals.

Websites and Journals:
If you want to =93talk=94 to people after the Gathering, there=92s the CDT-=
e-mail list. There are a  LOT of thruhikers on the list =96  The access pag=
(URL) for the list is:
http://mailman.backcountry.net/mailman/listinfo/cdt-l. There=92s also an
archive page for CDT-L at: http://mailman.backcountry.net/pipermail/cdt-l.
The Wyoming BLM has a good site:
Tom Bombaci is a trail angel who lives near Grants, NM.  He and his wife ru=
an informal =91hostel=92 for thruhikers. His Web site has a lot of New Mexi=
information and other links and is located at:
In the last year or two, a lot of on-line journals have come out.  They are
fun to read and give a good flavor of the trail.
One of the best on-line journals is Jonathan Ley=92s 2001 account:
Troubadour=92s 2002 hike is at. www.thruhikers.com
Chris and Dawn=92s 2002 hike is at www.skinnyhiker.com
Rafi=92s 2002 journal is at  www.dividedwewalk.org
Brian Robinson and Team Triple Crown also have pictures and journal entries
for the CDT on their websites, though given the mileage they were doing,
their experience is very different from that of most thruhikers.
www.triplecrownoneyear.com and
There are a few others out there, if you look.

This is our take on maps.  There are other opinions, other routes.
Buying maps is one of the significant expenses for the Continental Divide
Trail. Unlike the PCT, the maps in the guidebooks are not sufficient to hik=
the trail, since they only show a narrow corridor and there will be many
times that you NEED to have the bigger picture.  We used a wide variety of
maps on our thruhike:  state highway maps, National Forest Maps,  Bureau of
Land Management (BLM) maps, and commercial maps put out by Trails
Illustrated (TI) and Earthwalk Press and Delorme.
Jonathan Ley, who hiked the CDT in 2001, has created a CD-ROM  set of maps
for the entire trail (his route and some alternatives).  He has been very
willing to share them with CDT hikers, and we have heard good things about
them.  A description can be found at http://www.phlumf.com/cdt/cdtmaps.htm
The next time we hike, we will certainly contact him for a set, though we
will probably still carry the NF maps so that we have the =91bigger picture=
Before you leave, it is a good idea to mark your proposed route, and
whatever alternates seem like likely possibilities, on the maps to make sur=
you have the entire route covered and that you understand how the guidebook=
and maps interact.
Get the highway maps for each state.  This will give you a basic idea of
where the trail runs within the state and where the nearby towns are
located.  Many of the trail towns are quite a ways off trail so if you cut
the maps to save weight (we did) leave a good margin.  If you need to bail
out for any reason, this can be really essential.  And make sure you leave
essential information on the section that you=92ll carry (like mileage scal=
compass declination, contour intervals, etc).
Our National Forest maps (including the Wilderness Area maps) were purchase=
directly from the Forest offices, though we were able to buy several within
a state at a time.  They are generally not topographic, except the
Wilderness Area maps (Anaconda-Pintler, Bob Marshall-Scapegoat, Gila & Aldo
Leopold), and the scale is very large (sometimes covering 100 or more miles
on one map), but they are good at showing alternate trails/routes and are
generally more current than the BLM maps.  This can be important if you nee=
to bail out or if the weather makes the situation dangerous so you need to
go to lower elevation or if you get lost.  Flexibility is key here. Althoug=
there is a lack of detail because of the scale, they were all we needed for
Montana.  Since the trail often runs along the Divide, which is generally
the division between two NF areas, we usually only carried one of the two
possible NF maps (i.e. along the Idaho/Mt border.)  Get whichever is the
most current, as they are still constructing new trail in many places.
In Wyoming, we used a combination of National Forest Maps, commercial maps
(Earthwalk Press and Trails Illustrated), and BLM maps.  Except in the Gros
Ventre area, route finding wasn=92t that difficult.  We had gotten trail
information for the desert route directly from the BLM. There was little
detail, but it was sufficient, since the trail mostly follows roads across
the Basin.
In Colorado, Trails Illustrated puts out a good series of water-resistant
maps that cover the entire trail through that state.  They are expensive
($8.95-$10 each), but since they are topographic and smaller scale than the
NF maps, they=92re worth the money.  We carried, but didn=92t use, many of =
NF maps in Colorado on our thruhike.  (But when we had to bail out on our
San Juan hike in 1997 because of AMS, we used the NF map to find a quick wa=
out.  If you=92re hiking northbound, I would recommend carrying the NF maps=
well as the TI maps in Colorado, unless the snow levels are very very low.)
In NM, we sometimes carried up to three maps for a section of trail
(Delorme, NF and BLM), and found that while each had errors, together they
usually added up to an adequate picture of the actual terrain.
This is the list of maps that we used.  If your route is different from
ours, you will need some others, but it gives you a place to start.  There=
a note about that at the end of the list.
Northern MT:
TI #215 =96 Glacier/Waterton NP
Bob Marshall/Scapegoat Wilderness Map
Helena NF, Deerlodge NF
Southern MT:
Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness Map
Beaverhead NF, Targhee NF =96 Dubois, Targhee NF - Island Park, Gallatin NF

TI #201 - Yellowstone NP
Bridger Teton NF =96 Buffalo, Jackson,
Earthwalk Press Wind River Range - North & South (much better detail than
the Shoshone NF maps)
BLM South Pass, BLM Bairoil, BLM Rawlins, BLM Baggs,
Near the Colorado border:   Medicine Bow NF
Routt NF, San Isabel NF, Gunnison Basin. Rio Grande NF, San Juan NF
Trails Illustrated Maps (www.trailsillustrated.com):      (Not in
=91chronological=92 order)
102 - Indian Peaks/Gold Hill
103 - Winter Park/Central City/Rollins Pass
104 - Idaho Springs/Loveland Pass
108 - Vail/Frisco/Dillon
109 - Breckenridge/Tennessee Pass
115 - Rand/Stillwater Pass
116 - Hahns Peak/Steamboat Lake
117 - Clark/Buffalo Pass
118 - Steamboat Springs/Rabbit Ears Pass
126 - Holy Cross/Ruedi Reservoir
127 - Aspen/Independence Pass
129 - Buena Vista/Collegiate Peaks
130 - Salida/St Elmo/Shavano Peak
139 - La Garita/Cochetopa Hills
140 - Weminuche Wilderness
141 =96 Silverton/Ouray/Telluride/Lake City
142 - South San Juan Wilderness/Del Norte
200 - Rocky Mt Natl Park
Carson NF, Santa Fe NF, Cibola NF =96 Mt Taylor, Gila NF
Gila Wilderness Area, Aldo Leopold W.A.
BLM Chama, BLM Abiquiu, BLM Chaco Mesa, BLM Grants, BLM Acoma Pueblo, BLM
(corner of) Fence Lake, BLM Quemado, BLM Tularosa, BLM Mogollon Mtns, BLM
Hatch, BLM Deming, BLM Columbus
Other routes (Antelope Wells / Silver City) will require different maps:
BLM Alamo Hueco, BLM Animas, BLM Lordsburg, BLM Silver City
Resupply is generally not much more difficult than on the PCT.  We usually
were able to find a town every 5 to 7 days.  Some of our longest stretches
were about 150 miles between towns.  For the most part, we were able to buy
food as we went, except for a few very small towns or resorts, and in a
couple of those cases, we could have hitched to a larger town and gotten
what we needed fairly easily.  The biggest difference from the other long
trails is that towns are generally a LONG way off trail.  Sometimes 15
miles, sometimes 35 miles.  It can be a long wait for a ride.  Double check
the zip codes before you send anything to these addresses.  The
abbreviations are: M - Meals, L - lodging, $ - ATM, S - shower, D - Laundry=
P - post office or maildrop, G- good grocery, g - small grocery, C -
Camping, I - Internet
That said, the list of towns usually used follows:

Town=09=09Zip Code=09Services=09Cum. Miles    Miles to next (miles off trai=
l to


Waterton=09=09   M, L, g, C=09               0=09 96/104
=09   2 v. sm. stores in Glacier N.P. All 3 alt. routes are good.

E.  Glacier=0959434=09   P, M, L, D, I, g, $       104=09  133
=09Good compact town, hostel

Benchmark=0959410=09   p, (M, L, S)=09             237=09  54.5
=09MAILDROP.  Small Resort (1.5 miles off trail). Fee. Call/write first.

Lincoln         59639=09   P, M, L, G, I=09     291.5=09   66
=09Rogers Pass (18) =96 good trail town. Three ways in.

MacDonald Pass=09=09   p, M,  C=09             357.5=09   59
Can hitch into Helena (all services, inc. good Outdoor store.)

Anaconda=0959711=09   All Services=09=09     416.5=09   96
=09Spread out town. Good groceries.
[We took Anaconda cut-off  - Official route is much longer]

Wisdom, MT=0959761=09   P, M, L, g, D, =09    512.5  124.5 Chief Joseph Pas=
s (26)
        Could go to Salmon, ID via Lost Trail Pass instead (All services)
=09Some have gone to Sula or Gibbonsville as well.

Leadore, ID=0983464=09   P, M, L, g, D, C, S       637=09  101.6
=09Bannock Pass (15) slow hitch

Lima, MT=0959739=09   P, M, L, g=09             738.6        70.5
=09I-15 Monida (16)- freeway hitch, very limited resupply.

Macks Inn, ID=0983433=09   P, M, L, v.sm g, C, D, $    809 =09   37
=09MAILDROP. Can take bus 15 miles to W.  Yellowstone (all services)
[Official Trail is 20 miles longer via alt Henry=92s Lake route]


Yellowstone NP, 82190=09   P, M, L, g, $ =09     846=09 86.5-100
=09Old Faithful Village - no camping at village, nearest is a few miles awa=

Togwottee Pass Resort, 82513   p, M, L, g, $=09     932.6=09  124
=09MAILDROP.  [We ended up going directly to Togotee Lodge via side trail. =
better route would be to go to Togwottee Pass and hitch into Dubois.] (38)
All services. Can go to Brooks Lake Lodge ( No services) near Togwottee Pas=
=96 maildrop only.

Big Sandy Lodge 82923=09  p, M, L, C, S=09            1056.6      55-60
=09MAILDROP.  (2.4 miles off trail). $20 each minimum, contact first. No fu=

South Pass=0982520     p - snacks=09             1112=09  130(0.3)
=09MAILDROP ONLY.  Could hitch to Lander (36 miles) All services.
Or Atlantic City=09  p, L, M=09=09     1117=09  116
=09   No fuel or groceries in S. Pass or A.C.

Rawlins=09        82301=09  All services=09             1233=09  126
=09Good town, very spread out.

Encampment is also a possibility, midway through the next section.


Steamboat Springs  80477   All Services + NF=09   1359=09   98.5  Buffalo P=

Grand Lake      80447=09All services =09 =09   1457.6       86
=09Good trail town, great hostel.[We followed Jim Wolf=92s route, not the
official route which is much longer and doesn't go directly into town.]

Winter Park =96 expensive, but all services

Silverthorn  80498=09All services, incl. Hostel      1543.6       77
=09  Free bus to neighboring towns of Frisco and Breckenridge.

Twin Lakes  81251=09P, M, L, v. sm. g             1620.6       72.5  (2 or =
=09MAILDROP. Laundromat 8 mi down road at Motel.

Salida=09    81201       All services=09=09     1693        95. Monarch Pas=
s (20)
=96 sandwiches at pass. Lodge at Garfield will sometimes hold packages, but
Salida was a better town.

Creede=09  81130=09        P, M, L, D, C, G, O, I, $    1788     143 San Lu=
Pass (10) or  via Spring Creek Pass 20 miles further.(35)
Or Lake City  81235=09P, M, L, G, D, C, S=09     1803    125  Spring Crk Pa=
Creede Cut-off  cuts off about 100 miles from this section. (Don=92t take i=
unless weather is really bad, this is a beautiful stretch of mountains.)

Pagosa Springs  81147    All Services - NF=09     1923    64 Wolf Creek Pas=


Chama=09 87520=09=09All Services  =09             1995     85    Cumbres Pa=
ss (8)

Ghost Ranch  87510=09P, M, S, C=09=09     2080=09   57
=09MAILDROP.  Conference center - busy

Cuba=0987013=09=09P, M, L, D, G, I, $=09     2137=09  115
=09A little spread out, hostel 10 miles outside town

Grants=0987020=09=09All Services=09=09      2252=09  86.5
=09Spread out, but friendly town

Pie Town  87837=09        P, M, C=09=09=09      2339=09   42
=09MAILDROP.  Caf=E9 is closed on Mon and Tues. =96 no gas or groceries.

Reserve  87830=09        P, L, M, G, D, NF, I=09      2380=09  127.5
=09Hard hitch (35)

Gila Hot Springs=09L, C, g, S, D, =09=09      2508=09    115
=09MAILDROP.  May be able to mail to ranger station/Vis. Ctr. or store at
Mimbres. (Mimbres has small store and several B&B type places.

Deming   88030=09        All Services=09=09       2623=09     50
=09Good compact town - Amtrak and bus stations.

Columbus  88029=09        P, M, L, g, S, C, I, $=09       2674 =09      3
=09Small compact town.

Palomas at Mexican Border=09M=09=09       2677
=09Lots of bars, restaurants & pharmacies

If you follow the official or semi-official routes to/from Antelope Wells,
you will pass through Silver City, which has all services, including a
hostel. (but is very spread out) and Hachita, which has a caf=E9 that is hi=
friendly and allows camping and showers.

The border station at Antelope Wells has only water.  No services.  The
official starting point is several miles east of the border station.

Add photos to your e-mail with MSN 8. Get 3 months FREE*.