I’m planning my own 2013 CDT thru hike and am currently devouring maps and books like this. It is hard to believe that since 1993 , when this book was first published, thru- hiking this LONG trail was estimated to take 6-8 months. Now, hikers are making it in around 5 months. Better, lighter gear, and the knowledge that it can be done, are the reasons. Also it is much easier to obtain the maps and general information. The authors wrote hundreds of letters to rangers, supervisors, and forest service officers. No one does that anymore. So far, I have spent over $500 on maps, but only needed two addresses to get them, and I did it all over the Internet.
If you don’t want to spoil your read of the book stop here:
The writing here is good. The suffering level is high. The authors didn’t make it out of Montana at the northern end before the snows hit in October, and resorted to road walking the last several hundred miles before reaching the border on Nov. 2. There were no GPS devices to help them, as there are now.
It is interesting that the same complaint they had throughout the book about poorly marked trail is the case now with present day hikers. There’s not much data here about practical matters like the specific gear they had with them. They were hiking in heavy boots with thick socks, so blisters were a real issue. They prepared 80 boxes of food and supplies that were mailed to themselves at 30 resupply points. They tried to maintain a 15 mile a day average, even through Colorado, where the trail averages at 11,600′ in elevation.
Those guys were tough.