While some might consider my passion for hiking as spontaneous and adventurous, I am at heart a creature of habit. I never get tired of hiking the same trails over and over. The same is true for wearing the same clothes, eating the same foods, and reading my favorite books again and again. I have hiked the John Muir Trail (220 miles) more than a dozen times and it never gets old. After my 2014 Pacific Crest Trail thru-hike, my first thought in considering another long distance hike was to hike the PCT again. But after talking to many of my thru-hiking friends, they strongly encouraged me to consider a new challenge: The Continental Divide Trail.
Among thru-hikers, the CDT is considered the Ph. D of hiking and the unofficial motto of the trail is "Embrace The Brutality." The CDT, along with the Appalachian Trail (AT) and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) form what thru-hikers call the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking in the United States. The CDT is the longest and is considered by many the hardest, wildest, and loneliest of the three trails. In 2014, less than two hundred people attempted to hike the entire trail and only seventeen people reported a successful thru-hike.
I have studied the trail and read the stories of those who have braved the challenges of the CDT. What I find most attractive and compelling is that the trail is considered history in the making: 3,100 miles of trails, dirt roads, and cross country navigation from Mexico to Canada. Considered only 85% complete, some sections require map and compass skills with only a line on the map to mark the route. Following the Rocky Mountains, the trail traverses five U.S. states: New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. The CDT is considered one of the greatest wilderness conservation efforts in US History and is a living museum of the American West.
The book "The Backbone Of The World" by Frank Clifford is one of the books I read to prepare for my hike. It is a great read and I recommend it to anyone interested in the story of the Continental Divide Trail and Old West; where the past and present are barely discernible from one another and people’s lives are still intrinsically linked to the land.