CDT Prep: Off to Montana

I’m heading up to Montana shortly to hike a big section of the Continental Divide Trail. The CDT runs along the spine of the Great Continental Divide, largely along the ridges of the Rocky Mountains, for about 3,000 trail miles between the Canada-U.S. and Mexico-U.S. borders (total mileage can vary quite a bit depending on route choices along the way). One of the eleven U.S. National Scenic Trails, the CDT is also part of long-distance hiking’s “Triple Crown,” alongside the PCT and Appalachian Trail. It’s more remote, less traveled, and has more challenging navigation issues than the other two. Happily, I’ll be starting in Glacier National Park with a few other hikers (including my old pals Whiz Kid and Cowboy from the PCT desert!) and hiking south about 500-600 miles (or as far I can get in five weeks). Then Cyn is coming out to meet me and we’ll head back up to Glacier together for some more leisurely backpacking around the park.

My training has not been as dedicated as it should be: I’ve been walking several miles most mornings with a 20lb weighted vest to condition my feet and legs, rowing (indoors) to help my lung capacity and stamina, and doing a (very) little weight training here and there. Every trip has its own special set of worries, and this time mine are all linked through my concern about being able to keep up with my hiking group. I don’t typically care much about that, but because my trail-specific worries this time are (1) hiking in grizzly bear territory, (2) hitchhiking in rural Montana, and (3) possibly sketchy water crossings as the snowmelt kicks in, I know I’ll feel much safer if I’m with at least one other hiker through those things. (I also have healthy fears about lightening storms up on the Divide, but I feel better able to navigate those on my own.)

My gear is not much changed from last summer. I’ll have an Ursack instead of my bear can, and will be carrying microspikes and an ice axe through the first 100 miles or so. Going stoveless again — when the weather’s not consistently cold, I’d rather just eat immediately any time I want and not have to worry about buying fuel, etc.

Everything including snow gear and food for the first leg. Comes out to 17.7 pounds, which is not too bad.

This summer I am fundraising for organizations that have been working to protect the Badger-Two Medicine, sacred Blackfeet land that I’ll be hiking near for much of my trip. I set up a fundraiser to benefit the Glacier-Two Medicine Alliance and am also committing to match the amount raised and split it between two Blackfeet-led organizations as well. Many more details at the fundraiser page — I hope that if you’re able to, you’ll join me in supporting their important work. As always, I will very happily send a postcard from the trail to anyone who donates $25 or more.

I’ll be scheduling blog posts to upload when I can get cell service, and will update on Instagram as well. Onward to the Rockies!


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