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[cdt-l] cdt 2002 comments



in response to Jim Wolfs and Ginnys requests for me to elaborate a bit on my
experience...
with regards to road walking in NM:  i almost changed my plan from antelope
wells to columbus (since jim w. speaks so highly of the columbus route i
figured there must be something there!) but i already had a box going to
silver city so i just stuck with it.  when i refer to bad road walks i guess
i mean from silver city to white signal (big shoulder but Fast vehicles)
which is the "designated" route.  WS to Separ was dirt/gravel and was fine;
separ to hachita i did dirt roads and XC till the last mile before town,
that was a fun seciton; hachita to the border i walked the road or rather
for 1/3 walked berms or sandy washes to the side of the road.  that highway
is so lightly traveled i didnt fear getting hit, just the wear and tear from
walking asphalt.  in my estimation the "designated" route from hachita to
Mex is a bit goofy since it drops you in a remote area with no "there"
there.  the valley SSW of Big Hatchet peak is gorgeous and i enjoyed having
the hwy mileage markers to countdown the hike: 3, 2, 1, 0!
(note, up until Cumbres pass i only had USGS with Jonathan Ley's
annotations, which largely follows the CDTS route, at Cumbres i began hiking
with Chris (Tripod) and Dawn and he has CDTS and CDTA books.)  we largely
followed the CDTS route in NM which seemed the better choice to me.  why
walk the highway all those miles from chama to Ghost ranch?! absurd!  the
CDTS route around the TA was great!  also, the CDTA's high route south of
the hwy that accesses Reserve, NM has no water, not suitable for thru
hikers; additionally, the CDTA route in the Plains of San Augustin seems to
me to be a dogmatic adherance to the Divide rather than a practical and
scenic choice to follow the Middle Fork Gila River.  overall NM was great
and the people were wonderful.
southbound -vs- northbound:  Southbound, hands down.  i think that in
anything but an extraordinary year (i.e. 2002) it is virtually impossible to
do a continuous northbound thru-hike.  so if continuous is an important
criteria for you, i think southbound is the way to go.  just don't get to
Glacier NP too early, no point to push the season there.  i started 9 days
later than two 2001 southbounders and still got thru the San Juans before
major snow and made it to Mex.  there is plenty of time to make up for a few
"lost days", so dont rush it.  i hear stories of prospective thru hikers
arriving in Glacier late May/early june- the Rangers think you are really
wacky (as opposed to just slightly wacky) and ultimately you either endure
days of deep snow and water, bomb out rto roadwalk, or worse yet quit.  why
set yourself up for such an arduous task, unpleasant roadwalk, and/or
failure?   (unless that's your thing).
i would add that once you are thru Glacier and The Bob, the "clock starts
ticking" for southern CO.  not that i felt i had to hike from dawn to dark
everyday in july, august, and september, but if you want to do the San Juan
Loop, hike accordingly.  just ask Troubadour and Turtle about that!  (for
those who dont know, they got smacked repeatedly from Grand Lake south and
had hip deep snow by the time they got to Spring Creek Pass (Snow Mesa), and
decided (wisely, i think) to do the Creede Cutoff).  plus, they continued to
get hit by snow all the way to NM and have been walking thru snow in high
places all the way to Mt. Taylor!  yikes!  it was recommened to me to set a
goal of making it to Wolf Cr Pass by Sept 29th, and i think that is good
advice.  (one note, i hiked the CDT more "aggressivley" or "vigorously" than
the PCT thus covering more miles on average per day.  part of that is just
the exhiliration and adrenaline rush that comes from hiking solo in such
grand scenery, part of that was the knowledge that i wanted to do The Loop
and NOT hike in waist-deep snow!)
with regards to resupply, i did maildrops all the way thru the end of CO,
and switched to buying in towns for NM.  i liked having my organic,
purchased-in-bulk food but also liked grocery shopping later.  note there
are a few stops in NM w/o grocery: ghost ranch & pie town (you could
probably put together an adequate rewupply at Gila Hot Springs to get to
Silver City, and Hachita to get to Antelope Wells.)
a thought about the "trail" in general.  i wanted to travel the CDT before
it became too much like the PCT (or AT for that matter, i shudder at the
thought!!).  i wanted to have some XC, have some options.  in my book, as
long as you are walking than you are on the right track, and most of us want
to walk trails, two tracks, or non-paved roads (in that order of
preferance).  there are places where i hope they dont put in tread and
rather invest the time and energy developing water sources in critical
areas.  the road walk into rawlins and out of silver city stick out in my
memory as routes in need of help:)
as for words of wisdom, ha!  the CDT kicks butt over the PCT!!!  i had
oodles more fun on the CDT and the challenge was extraordinarily rewarding.
the CDT isnt for everybody, and that is a good thing.  i feel blessed that i
had a God-inspired inner drive.  it seems to me that thru hikers must have
something inside of them that keeps ya going when it is too hot, too cold,
too dry, too buggy, too confusing...  i give credit for my day to day joy
(especially as a solo hiker) as well as ulitmate 'success' in reaching Mex
to the Holy Spirit and our Lord, Jesus Christ- i couldnt have done it
without Him!!
hmmm, any other topics you want me to blab on about?  i will try to stay
engaged in the cdtl  for the benefit of future hikers, as others did for me.
  i may not be as dedicated nor have as articulate of information as other
veterans, but if there is something i can add i will try.
take care,
mikeE.






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