Colorado Mountain Man

The Continental Divide Trail


Jul 27,2016
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The Continental Divide Trail (CDT) is over 3,100 miles long. It travels south from Canada to Mexico. It crosses 5 states; Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico. The CDT in Colorado is around 760 miles long. Rugged terrain is common on this trail and leads you through remote primitive areas. As of 2009, over 200 miles of the trail in Colorado is not finished. The CDT also runs concurrent for 200 miles along the Colorado Trail.

Your navigation skills must be flawless with a GPS, map and compass. If not, you will have to refresh your skills or take a course. There are areas that have no roads and very few people. Getting lost and/or getting hurt on this trail, you will be in trouble. Hiking with friends is crucial. Support of other people for resupply is another thing you need to think about. You will not find too many stores along the way. So, with all of that in mind, you need a solid plan to be successful on this trail.

Very few people start out to thru-hike the CDT every year and less than that even make it. The CDT is one of those trails that you just might want to section hike. The official guide to Colorado's Continental Divide Trail is written by Tom Lorang Jones. He has broken down the trail in 43 sections. This guide is invaluable to completing the Colorado section of the CDT. It is very informative with maps, directions, a checklist of equipment and a list of locally purchased maps that you might want to invest in.

In Colorado, you will be traveling at the highest part of the CDT. With that in mind, the lighting storms are dangerous and you must take immediate action. Just remember that you are the tree above timberline. People get killed every year by lightning. Know what to do before you get on the trail. I have been in 2 electrical storms and they are no joke. My metal trekking pole was cracking and my hair was standing up. I was fortunate not to get zapped. It is recommended to be off the ridges and high points between 1 and 2 pm before the afternoon storms roll in. They are quite frequent during July and August.

Another killer in the mountains is hypothermia. Getting soaked with sweat and then not protecting yourself from the wind and cool air can lower your body temperature. That is dangerous and you need to take precautions. Symptoms of hypothermia are loss of coordination, shivering and exhaustion. Victims need to be warmed and protected immediately. Learn about hypothermia before you go hiking in the mountains. It can save your life or your friends.

A friend of mine hiked the Appalachian Trail. He told me a thru-hiker's backpack, tent and sleeping bag should be no more than 10 pounds when weighed together. They are the largest sized items that you carry on your hike. The bad thing with that is it will cost you some money for high tech gear that is for the light-weight hiker. Food and water will be the next items that weigh the most. Your gear should not weigh more than 30 or 35 pounds in total. Make sure you include a Survival Kit and a First Aid Kit. And, know how to use them! There are a lot of different lists out there recommending what you should take. Just remember, that you have to carry it, so choose your gear wisely.

If you are thru-hiking, keep all food out of your tent. That will encourage a hungry mammal to give you a visit in the middle of the night looking for the goodies you want to share. Keep your food, cooking gear and hygiene gear 75 to 100 feet away from your tent. You might not see any wildlife, but they are there. Trust me.

Colorado Mountain Man