We’ve been hiking for eight days now and I must say, I think we got this. I may be prematurely optimistic but the routine of waking up, eating, moving forward, eating, sleeping, feels familiar. Very much like coming home.
It is unusual to hike the CDT for your first thru-hike but for us, it was an easy choice. We like that there are fewer people along the CDT and after having ridden the Great Divide Mountain Bike Route in 2019, we know what to expect from the terrain, weather, and trail towns. So far, all of the other CDT hikers have already completed either the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) or the Appalachian Trail (AT). A few have completed both the AT and the PCT and are going for their Triple Crown (completing the AT, PCT, and CDT).
I enjoy the New Mexico desert. Luckily we missed the high temperatures of the week before and all of the water caches were full. We collected water from a cattle trough once, and it was the best tasting water so far. At times the CDT trail markets are not visible, so we have fun searching for them with help from our Guthook app, mixing the physical challenge with a bit of puzzle solving . We wake up in time to see the beautiful sunrises and I’m in my tent in time to miss the rumored glorious sunsets.
We had a twelve mile road walk on pavement into Silver City yesterday. I’m surprised how sore I felt last night and this morning. We’re going to take our first ‘zero,’ a day to relax, do laundry, shower, resupply, and let our feet and joints recover. Starting tomorrow we begin a two-week backcountry segment, hiking through the Gila National Forest and back into the desert, stopping in Pie Town for a resupply box and of course, pie à la mode.
Strangely, I experienced no anxiety about my safety or abilities for this thru-hike. But I did experience anxiety about meeting other hikers. Due to my introverted nature combined with the recent pandemic seclusion, I actually felt shy, like the new kid at school. Everyone else is already an experienced thru-hiker with a trail name. Many hikers already know one another from past hikes or know about each other. Happy to say, after eight days, this is diminishing. Good conversations with interesting, adventurous, and accepting people. I’ve even been offered a trail name... Hush. You know, librarian and introvert. I kind of like it.
Last year at this time, we were packing up our belongings in Manhattan, leaving the Appalachian Loft one month early due to COVID. All of our plans changed. Instead of riding our bikes around the world, we found ourselves working on our land in Lawrence, KS. I was surprised how easily I accepted the disruption and actually enjoyed seeing more of my family, working remotely, being creative, and having the time to exercise and train.
John and I spent a lot of time during fall and winter learning about the CDT and thruhiking. Videos, blogs, books, web sites. We researched and bought gear. Hiked around Cary and Fort Collins with our packs. Did a shake-down trip at Lory State Park in snow. I believe we are ready.
We chose to hike the Continental Divide Trail for many reasons. No rent, being outdoors, staying fit, low-stress. Depending on your route, the total mileage is between 2,700-3,000 miles. We’ll be on trail for five-six months.
And now, the obligatory photo of my gear! 13.4 pounds base weight (without food or water). Lightweight but not ultralight. And yes, those are down pants.