In three months (give or take a few days) I expect to be dropped off in the New Mexico Bootheel to begin what will (in all likelihood) be the most physically and mentally challenging months of my entire life (and possibly the death of me). Yes, in three months time I will be doing something that I literally said (many times) I would never do. I will be hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT).
For a long time “hiking the CDT” was just an idea I had for what I would do this year – penciled into my imaginary agenda as I waited for “something better” to come along. However, since said “something better” has yet to appear, and since the time to reconsider my plans for the coming year is growing short, I've made a firm commitment to hiking the 3,100 mi / 5,000 km from Mexico to Canada.
So with three months to go, what have I done and what am I doing to prepare for this hike? Honestly? Nothing. Why? Because as the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) taught me, attempting to plan a long-distance hike is useless.
“Yeah, but you can't possibly be doing nothing, Mac. Don't you fucking lie to me. I know you're doing something.”
Alright anonymous reader, you got me. Maybe I'm understating my CDT warm up just a bit. I am doing a little to prepare for the adventure ahead. The truth is, I have been sorting through my current gear list and attempting to make a few upgrades, drop a bit of weight, and make my outfit as hikertrash sexy as possible.
What are some of these upgrades? Well, I've had my current sleeping bag since the onset of the PCT and I've since had it dry cleaned (you are NOT supposed to dry clean down sleeping bags), it's lost a considerable number of goose feathers, and the model I have has been discontinued (I don't like recommending discontinued products).
Thankfully, the fine folks at Western Mountaineering have partnered with me for the CDT, and I will be upgrading to not only one of their sleeping bags but also one of their down jackets. The sleeping bag I'll be using is the Western Mountaineering Versalite and the jacket I'll be using is the Western Mountaineering Hooded Flash Down Jacket. Check out all check out their entire lineup here.
I'm also on a mission to upgrade my shelter from Mountain Hardwear's now discontinued SuperMegaUL 2 to something equally as awesome and light. I have my eye on a few shelters right now (all of them two-person), but I don't know that I'll be able to give up something freestanding.
However, there are plenty of things I am NOT doing. These things include:
- Attempting to figure out what my daily mileage is going to be through each section.
- Deciding where I am going to take my “zero days” (probably in the towns with the best breweries).
- Packing and sending resupply boxes (might pack/send one or two the week before I leave).
- Staying up late reading every CDT thru-hiker account that I can find (though I will be writing my own).
- Stressing out over the fact that the snowfall this year is already well above average (not going to make a difference what I decide to stress about now).
- Figuring out where I am going to send myself bear spray or where I'm going to send my snow gear (assuming I'm going to need gear for the snow).
- Dehydrading a bunch of meals to be packed and consumed over the course of the hike.
- Reading any “guidebook.”
- Any sort of physical fitness regimen aimed at preparing me for the hike (say what you will, I think I'll be fine).
One thing I know is that I will have to cache some water for myself for the first I don't know how many miles (hikers who pay for the CDNST shuttle do not need to do this, but I'm getting my own ride to the terminus).
I should probably remember to figure out the water thing before I get dropped off in the desert.
Three months should be ample time to accomplish this.
So much to do…