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[cdt-l] general reactions

It goes without saying that it was an unbelievable 5 months out there. Bein=
out on the trail that long really lets you sink into it all and the CDT
didn=92t disappoint. We started in NM April 12, pretty early as things go,
with the idea being to take NM at a nice slow clip and get to CO by
mid-June. We actually made Chama on May 31 I think, and the CO snow being
what it was, we didn=92t have to take any time off to let it melt off and j=
kept on going into the South San Juans.

NM was great, better than I expected. I had sort of an ambivalent feeling
about S. Cal on the PCT, but I really liked just about everything in NM,
even the supposedly =93boring=94 stuff in the sagebrush and flatlands. We
started at Tierra Commun, which let us avoid a road walk (or a XC route)
first thing out of Antelope Wells, and this worked out really well. Probabl=
my favorite part in NM was the Middle Fork of the Gila River (thanks,
Jonathon, for pushing us in that direction) - a great canyon walk, really
recommended. We got up Mt. Taylor before it closed (maybe a day or two
before?) and then really liked the area south of the Rio Puerco, with those
wild volcanic plugs and dramatic orange and purple rock formations in the
arroyos =96 I actually expected more scenery like that in NM. Then I think =
were one of the few northbounders to make it from Ghost Ranch to Chama via
the NF just as it was closing =96 in fact, we started to see closed signs
halfway through that section and we even saw a FS truck while we were in
there but it didn=92t stop to kick us out so we figured we were grandfather=
in or something. The people in NM were great too =96 a sharp contrast to CO=
where hitches were tough and folks were generally sort of jaded about life
and the CDT.

So we plunged into CO, and had a bit of postholing to do in the South San
Juans, but that really was my favorite section of the whole trail. I=92m a
sucker for big ole mountains with lots of snow and gushing streams, nobody
else there, etc, and the S. San Juans were the real deal. We did the loop
around the Weminuche too and I don=92t think we saw a single person in ther=
until near Stoney Pass. Then the fire games started just past Lake City (we
saw White Root at the pass there). Ashfall and smoky haze =96 not so fun, b=
you still couldn=92t complain. Loved the Eagle=92s Nest Wilderness just aft=
Copper Mtn to Frisco/Silverthorne=96 I was glad we didn=92t walk the road o=
r the
bike path or whatever it is in there. Another great little section was from
Berthoud Pass to Rogers Pass via Mt Flora, Mt Eva, Parry Peak, Bancroft
Peak, and James Peak =96 unbelievable up there, and even more unbelievable
that the official route (being constructed as we were hiking through)
doesn=92t stay on the Divide in there =96 the supposedly =93dangerous=94 se=
ction in
the notch between Bancroft and James was not so terrible at all =96 we
actually followed a cairn onto a talus field right before that notch that
got us into a sticky situation, but if you follow the route, it is
definitely the way to go. I can=92t believe it=92s done otherwise.

WY also exceeded expectations. Maybe I=92m a bit of a freak, but I actually
really liked the Great Basin Divide =96 all the pronghorn, the big skies an=
sense of space, some wild lightning storms. I followed the BLM route throug=
there, which is really well marked, and generally didn=92t have water probl=
(thanks to a well placed solar well and also fenced-off Weasel Spring). The=
went up Temple Pass from S. Pass City, which I also loved, and I can=92t
believe the CDT bypasses that too, with all that towering granite. Loved th=
Winds, all the way down to the Green River=85 The area from Gunsight Pass a=
the way to the highway near Togwotee was a mess as far as tread goes, got
pretty lost in there, but found a way through in the end =96 that area real=
needs work.

MT was a mixed bag. I was disappointed with lots of southern MT, though I
think I was probably a victim of my own expectations (isn=92t that the
definition of disappointment?). Having never been there, and not having
looked very carefully at maps and guidebooks before going, I was expecting
it to be sort of alpine and mountainous and not full of rolling sagebrush
and hills, etc. Some nice sections though, especially from Monida to Leador=
and also the Anaconda-Pintler Wilderness. And Glacier and the Bob at the en=
was a sweet finish, I could=92ve kept going in that stuff for years.

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