I’ve spent the past couple of weeks watching with interest the weather over in the States, or rather the repercussions of the severe winter they have experienced. The net consequence is that the snow pack is much higher than normal.
Any thru-hike is a simple matter of maths. Now, I’m crap at arithmetic but I do know that to complete 3,200 miles in 5 months, with one zero a week (rest day), is a case of pulling in 23.7 miles per day. This doesn’t sound particularly difficult, and it shouldn’t be, but with two long distance hikes in the States under my belt where I averaged around 19 miles per day, it’s beginning to not add up.
The severe winter means waiting later than normal for an optimal start date taking into account the receding snow levels. A north bound hike whether it’s the CDT, PCT or AT demands, in general, that a hiker finish by the end of September. OK, there are good years when the winter may not hit until November, but in general the end of September is the turning point that most thru-hikers aim for.
The aim was to start mid-April, take 2 weeks getting up to speed and start cranking out the 900 or so miles of New Mexico before the elevation kicks upwards. However, once up in the mountains this daily mileage will be difficult to reel in. Hiking 23.7 miles every day in snow will not be easy. I’m not one to shirk a challenge but conversely, if I am to invest several months of my time and a few thousand quid as well, I want to be sure that a lot of aspects are in my favour. This year, essentially, is not going to be a favourable year to hike the CDT.
Strangely, in the aftermath of making the decision and after the initial disappointment, it felt as though a weight had been lifted. I always take notice of what my head tells me but it’s my heart, or gut feeling that makes the decisions. Although sad, I now have no doubts about the choice and in turn, it has opened up other possibilities.
For example, my Appalachian Trail book – Balancing on Blue was not due for release until next year but now I have some time to possibly get it finished by the autumn. I will certainly have the opening two chapters available to read in the book shop as a little teaser soon.
If I’m not hiking this Summer, at least not a biggie, then suddenly the option of a thru-hike around October has opened up. I’ve been eying up Te Araroa in New Zealand for some time. A country I’ve always wanted to visit now appears to be sending me an invite. I may just accept.
Te Araroa in New Zealand – Beautiful and no bears (photo credit: dbbrad.blogspot.com)
I can now look forward to experiencing one of my favourite countries these next few months – England. There are fewer places I would rather be than my own country in the summer time and I love the journey of watching winter fade and Spring creep up, in turn merging into Summer. I can get out and bag some trails, safe in the knowledge that I can get wet still but at least be warm.
There’s more time to catch up with a back log of blog posts, gear reviews, interviews and whatever catches my attention on this site.
So, sad not to be taking on the CDT but relishing the new prospects that have opened up.
The rest of the team, Nick Levy, Chris Read, Faye Fillingham, Garrett Lane and David Allen are keeping an eye on the conditions but will very likely head out and I wish them all the best for a successful thru-hike. My chance may come next year, or the year after, but at some point I will attempt a thru-hike of The Continental Divide Trail.
They are filming the thru-hike with the aim of producing a 60 to 90 minute documentary of the journey called The Real Divide. The website link is below, please go visit and check it out, especially the donation page where some equipment is sorely needed and you can also donate to the charity they have chosen to support – Water Aid.
. . . and the Facebook page is here: