It’s 2013: The Continental Divide Trail beckons!

Artwork by Michelle Ray
Artwork by Michelle Ray

Today, it’s officially 2013 and time to take action toward my latest big-deal adventure: backpacking the Continental Divide Trail ( CDT). I’ve got 3 months and 15 days to pull things together. I already have my plane tickets. I had air miles accumulating from my credit card for the past 5 years so the flight from Portland, ME to El Paso, TX cost me just $10 as did the trip back to Portland from Bozeman, MT on October 1.

In the past 6 years I have completed three thru-hikes: the Appalachian Trail in 2007, the Pacific Crest Trail in 2010, and Vermont’s Long Trail in 2011. Readers can access my daily Trailjournals from these journeys on, or click the hot links on the right side of my blog to get there.

On March 27, 2007 on my first day on the AT I met General Lee and then encountered Richard Wizard a couple of weeks later. We and several others held up as a “AT family” that eventually reached Katahdin together. We’ve forged life-long bonds and we reunited to complete the PCT in 2010, and in Lee’s case, the Long Trail as well. Lee is from Georgia, and Wizard from Texas. On the trail, we’re known as MeGaTex, and all three of us are on “ the bus” for this one, plus other people that I’ll introduce you to in the weeks ahead.

I started a blog in 2008, after I enjoyed writing about the daily adventures on the AT. Between my trail journals and my WordPress blog site I have racked up over a half million “hits” from readers. I’ve been rewarded many fold for my time spent whacking away at these keyboards, sending out my thoughts from the house or in the tent. The kickbacks just keep on coming. So, just to be perfectly clear- I’ll take any and all the help I can get.

So far, I’ve spent close to $500 on maps about this “King of Trails”, which is of undetermined length, ranging somewhere between 2,700 and 3,100 miles. It’s undetermined because it is not like the AT or the PCT, or the LT. It’s undetermined because the trail is only 70% complete, and 58% complete in the most northern state of Montana. You get choices to go high, go low, go over mountains, or walk riverbeds, or walk roads. The one defining characteristic about the CDT that makes it especially challenging is the tendency for hikers to lose the trail. It’s unmarked and unsigned, for sections as long as a couple of hundreds of miles. Depending on the depth of winter snows, the trail generally gets buried in the Rocky Mountains in Colorado.

Right from the start, you get to choose three starting points along the Mexico/ New Mexico border. I’ve been spending the last month familiarizing myself with the New Mexico maps, and still am not sure I understand where the trail goes. For example, I have the latest 2009 edition of the New Mexico Delorme Atlas and Gazatteer where I believe there have been major changes from the Acoma Indian Reservation below the town of Grants all the way up to the Colorado border, and that’s 1/3 of the CDT in Mexico. I’m concerned about the fact that New Mexico is mostly a barren desert and that natural water sources are as much as 150 miles apart.
I plan to update my official Trailjournal at least once weekly as April approaches.