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CDT Trail Blog

4-Aug-2006, Near Lake City, CO
I did it -- I finished the CDT

xxxxxxALIGN="CENTER"CDT Finished!

On Friday, August 4, at about 9:15 a.m. I completed my trek of the Continental Divide Trail above Lake City, Colorado. The attached picture shows me celebrating at 13,000+' at the same location that I stopped when a snowstorm convinced me to bail out two years ago.

I was elated at having completed the 3,100 mile CDT, even though it took me four summer-time jaunts after a number of travails: stress fracture after New Mexico; snow storm two years ago; and giardia last year. Elevation gain over the entire CDT is about 125,000', or about 24 miles--and I think almost 10 of those 'up' miles were in Colorado.

This summer I hiked almost 650 miles over 34 hiking days, averaging slightly more than 19 miles per day. The highest mileage days were 28 and 26 miles; the lowest mileage days were 7.6 and 11.5 when I arrived in a town or at a highway before hitching to town. I had 3 zero days -- days of rest -- which my body (and mind) really appreciated.

Updates for the last 120 miles after Salida to Lake City:

--On Sunday for about 15 miles south of Monarch Pass, 94 Mnt. bikers passed me on the trail which was mostly level until they headed down for their final 3,000 feet. Saw more people that day than hikers over four years; almost all were 'nice'

--Walking on the Continental Divide in the forest for more than a day; some ups and downs and periodic rain showers--kind of boring after a while

--Water a little more scarce since up high; only when dropping into valleys off the ridges was water available, but only about 6 to 10 miles between sources

--Above timberline or in meadows for about 25-30 miles, but no thunderstorms/lighting; the days tended to be cloudy and/or rainy so there wasn't the heat build-up with accompanying T-storms; fantastic views

--some rainy evenings, but after resealing seams (again) in Salida, tent did not leak

--some elk, deer, marmots, and pikas; mountain loin tracks?

--skirted San Luis Peak, a 14teener; never did hike up to a 14,000+ peak; decided that I'd save my energy for hiking distances rather than an additional 1,000-1,500' elevation gain. 3k-4k of elevation gain was usually enough for me in any one day. I figured that each 1,000' would add 30-45 minutes hiking time

--started into La Garita Wilderness area about a day behind 4 other hikers, two of them on the Colorado Trail which coincides with the CDT for about a couple hundred miles--passed their camp that same evening--most hikers don't do a 12+ hour stint on the trail

--last morning of hiking was one of anticipation; after completing my CDT hike, still had 3+ miles to reach the old mining town of Carson, then 4 miles down a road until reached the valley and got a ride to Lake City

--my sister Yvonne picked me up on Saturday; Sunday evening flew back to Spokane with a ride back to Sagle/Garfield Bay from Judy.


What's next, and when? Mmmm, maybe ...

25-July-2006, Twin Lakes, CO
'A Day in the Life of a CDT Hiker'

4:50am wake up. Have GrapeNuts/milk in Ziploc bag plus a small danish. (Cafe didn't open until 7:30 and grocery store didn't have much--even apples looked bad.)

5:40 Leave. Took short-cut on forest service road that saved about 8 miles if I went the 'official' route. Sign at closed gate said "Caution Deep Crossing". At the stream took off boots leaving socks on and crossed: knee deep but not too swift.


--Went from 9,300' to 12,550 at Hope Pass in four miles. On way up to pass, an older woman passed me. Somewhat embarrassed until I saw her shirt which had Pikes Peak Marathon on it.

--Get water from side creeks/springs without filtering--only if high up, otherwise I filter/treat.

--Descended 2,700' in 2.5 miles. Going down that steep is almost as hard on the body as going up.

--20+ Outward Bound kids starting their 22 day outing

--walked past 2 old mining camps: Rockdale and Winfield, the latter with a small museum (closed) and some private residences still in use


--Rain shower just as finishing lunch

--Heavy rain about an hour later: took a 20 minute break.

--Bigger size hail on ground as ascending

--Collegiate Peak Wilderness: had been on roads since the descent from Hope Pass

--a mother-daughter team stopped for the day at 3:30. They were going coast to coast and had been out for 5 1/2 months. Too early for me to stop.

--Keep going up, watching/listening to the storm that was above me.

--Got to edge of forest about 4:30. Took a break and listened. The T-storm had moved on.

--5:30 topped out at a pass at 12,600', another 3,000' that afternoon

--descended 1,500' to a another trail, my goal for the day, but I needed water and a flat place to camp

--creek in another mile and a flattish place after another half hour

--stopped for day at 6:35; got tent set up and things inside; started cooking meal when another shower started; ate in tent under eave

--bed by 8:30. Rain had stopped

--10:45 - 12:15 Heavy rain shower; tent seams leaked in two places, but was able to move around and use a 'camp towel' to absorb drops.

Good hiking day overall: almost 20 miles; over 6,000 foot elevation gain; 13 hours of hiking; no lighting real close; interesting people along the way; fantastic views.

20-July-2006, Silverthorne, CO
22 days down (including today's zero day); 16 (or 17) to go (for this summer)

365 (more or less) miles down; 285 miles to go

After waiting about 2.5 hours for a ride, got in the back of a pickup heading out of Steamboat Springs. When I hopped out, a water bottle fell out of my pack. About 15 minutes later they came back with my water bottle and another little bottle. Nice guys.

Never Summer Wilderness, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Indian Peak Wilderness.

Pine bark infestation north and south of Grand Lake. Whole hillsides look like a tinderbox ready to explode.

Made a wrong turn, rather didn't make a turn coming down from Bowen Pass. Wound up going hiking down Bowen Gulch rather than going toward Bowen Lake. Came out in Rocky Mt Park and highway walked about 10 miles into Grand Lake.

Grand Lake -- high priced resort town. Priest showed me around town for about an hour until I decided to go to the local hotel, which is also a resort. Had a bed in an 8 bunk room with two other guys. However, one of the guys got his stuff about 9 and the other got his about 10. I guess they had made other arrangements with the resort staff.

Went past a couple of campgrounds. Itís much easier to get water from a facet then to filter it.

Up high in the Indian Peak Wilderness all of a sudden there were all kinds of people hiking north. Realized that on a Sunday and only 5 or so miles from a road, it would be a nice hike.

Was planning to go over a 'scary' part of an alternate trail, but a nice trail lead me away from the turnoff. Wound up walking about 8 more miles plus about 2500' more elevation gain.

Saw a Youth Corps trail building crew part way up a Breckenridge Mountain--the rock tred trail they built the rest of the way up was sure nice to walk--much better and less steep than some of the roads I had walked that day.

Saw a Rocky Mt Goat and its kid and another big herd of elk. Deer of course. And the marmots while up high in the rocky areas.

Spent an hour in a Denver Water Co. shed during a rainstorm. Hiked two more hours that day before setting up the tent just before the rain started again. Stayed dry, except for the feet but that was from fording a creek twice.

Hustled down from a high pass -- after loosing the trail for about an hour -- in order to get to Silverthorne before the post office closed. Those four hours without a break almost did me in -- I was exhausted when I finally got to my motel room about 5. Not sure I'll do that again--but looking ahead don't think I'll have to.

Next stop: Twin Lakes; than Salida; and ending at Lake City.

10-July-2006, Steamboat Springs, CO
--200 miles down; 452 miles to go (for this summer)

--11.5 days (plus a zero day) down; 26 or 27 to go

--Rawlins north to A&M Reservoir was non-eventful. Water was where it was supposed to be. Walked mainly roads, but did a 'short-cut' which saved about 6 miles of road-walking

--Antelope as curious as ever. They would take off then stop and look back. Take off again and look back again.

--Rawlins south was one of water logistics. After 15 miles I detoured 1.5 miles to get a gallon and a half of water to last me until the next morning. Hiked about 28 miles that day--water was found about 2 miles further down the road.

--No trees for five days, and no shade for five days. Taking breaks on the warm/hot ground was not the most pleasant. What joy when finally reaching the Medicine Bow National Forest there were trees and I had a lunch hour+ in shade next to a small creek.

--Higher up there were six foot snow banks that quads had driven over

--Got into Encampment on the 4th of July around 1:30. Sign on the motel said the owners would be back at 5. Took a nap under their picnic table until awoken by a thru hiker (71 days) and his wife. Rode with them to an adjoining town to do laundry. Fireworks in Encampment that night, but I was in bed from 7:30 until 7 the next morning. Amazing what a good night sleep will do for the body.

--Wet parks and meadows and plenty of elk. Saw a herd of at least 100 plus a few smaller herds

--Colorado at last, glad to have completed Wyoming

--Blown-down of 1997 when 120 mph winds wrecked havoc over a 30 x 5 mile area. Followed by fires in at least two area...wow what chaos. Even saw some tress that were still standing with yellow tape around them with the words "Killer Tree"

--Mt. Zirkel Wilderness for two days. Forest areas, then high alpine ridges, and more forests and meadows

--Rain and cloudiness which was good when I was going over the 11,500+ ridges all afternoon and the next morning--no lighting

--After the wilderness the trails become multiuse, sometimes including hikers, mt. bikers, horses, motorcyclists, and quads. Only had one stand off with 2 motorcylists--they had to wait for me to pass...

RAIN some more--at least for 24 hours before getting into Steamboat Spring

--Zero day in Steamboat meant drying out things, resealing two small leaks in the tent, napping, eating, and internetting

--Tomorrow, Tuesday, will hit the trail again. Should be in Grand Lake in 4 days and in Silverthorne in 5 more.

Photography by Fred Gaudet
Continental Divide Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, Southwest, and Rock Art Photos