I’ve actually been a bit busier in my CDT planning recently, yet I haven’t bothered to sit down and write anything! This does not bode well for the trip itself, but hope springs eternal. In condensed form (because I have to go to bed) here’s what I’ve been up to:
- Michael came to visit a month ago and I had ambitious hiking plans. Then I managed to break my toe 12 hours after he arrived, and we spent the next few days with me trying to avoid jostling it and taking ibuprofen.
- Attended an REI class for desert survival skills. We talked 10 essential items, built a solar still and a shelter, practiced making knives from rocks and using them to cut paracord, and discussed considerations for safe hiking/backpacking in the desert in various seasons. Take away lesson: even on a day hike it’s better to be a little overprepared. You don’t need a tent per se, but think about what you would need to survive an unexpected overnight and see if you can fit a “just in case” things into your bag. Particularly a space blanket (shelter/warmth), a flashlight/headlamp, a knife, and extra water. And I’m sold on the benefits of taking a bandanna everywhere.
- Michael attended a winter survival skills course and a winter camping course, which I might try to take next winter before the hike too. He learned about snow pack layers, determining avalanche risk, and how hard it is to set up a tent in gloves. I’m still not convinced that we’ll need to take a shovel and those long poles with us – it seems excessive and I haven’t come across any blog of someone who took them – but we can keep talking about it.
- It’s been fascinating to me that as we each do our own research we sometimes come to different conclusions about how we will approach an issue. I guess I assumed we’d be on the same page! Currently our debate is water treatment – I’m pro-filter (the Sawyer is my front runner) with back up chlorine tablets. He’s pro-chlorine liquid treatment (Aquamira) with possible bandana pre-filter if needed. We’ll try them out and see what we both think!
- He’s also adorably getting super into pack weight and is going to try for pretty ultralight status. I don’t think it’s possible with his current gear, but he’s going to try for 10-12lbs base weight and I commend him on the effort. I’m feeling like 15-17lbs, while not ideal, is much more realistic for me since the bags I’m looking at are about 2lbs, my tent is 2lbs, a sleeping bag and pad seems to be at least 2-4lbs, and a stove set up with fuel is 1-2lbs, giving me about 8-10lbs right there without any clothing or any other gear. The people whose lists I’ve seen with a 10-12lb base weight are going for 1lb ultralight tents or tarps, a short sleeping pad (I’m totally going for comfort – this will be my bed for 5 months, I want to get good sleep), and an alcohol stove or no stove at all.
In awesome news, I’ve found a whole slew of new blogs to obsess over and learn from! In no particular order, here’s what I’ve been reading:
- PMags.com – a giant compendium of resources
- The HalfwayAnywhere hiker survey from 2018, which has reassured me that 20% of hikers made this their first thru-hike (no stats on how many of those actually finished)
- CDT blog by Wired from 2013 (going to start reading the day by day)
- This CDT planner google doc, recommended on several sites
- CDT photos and blog from 2005 by d-low (quick glance, going to dig in later)
- Youtube channel by Homemade Wanderlust, who hiked in 2018 (haven’t watched yet but I’m super excited to start!)
- This cached site about 1999 and 2006 hikes from SpiritEagle, with all kinds of good info on the mental aspects
- I’ve almost finished all the back episodes of the Weekly Hiking Tip podcast, which has a few useful episodes on all kinds of topics, including hiking with a partner 😉
Michael and I are planning a 10-14 day hike on the Colorado Trail/CDT this summer around the 4th of July, which is suddenly feeling like it’s not that far away! I need to get gear! I’ve got a few friends who might lend me some things to try out (probably in my backyard at this point) and who will try to teach me how to not die in the wilderness.
Here’s to new experiences and chasing dreams! And to not quitting your high stress but rewarding (and financially lucrative) job over daydreams of planning a hike full time!