[cdt-l] To Stimulate Discussion

Jim and/or Ginny Owen spiriteagle99 at hotmail.com
Thu Nov 16 17:57:52 CST 2006

My answers follow:

>1. What did you expect before you hiked the CDT?  Did the trail live up to 
>your expectations?

I had a pretty good idea what to expect, having done the CDT before.  
However, there were unexpected parts to the hike.  The trail has changed in 
seven years.  We've changed.  Going in a different direction made a lot of 
difference.  The hike was as good or better than I hoped.

The trail was better marked and much easier to follow than last time 
through.  Our attitude about losing the trail was different - we really 
didn't care this time. We just looked at it as another alternate route.  
There were a lot more people on the trail, both thruhikers and other users. 
We never went more than three days without seeing someone, and it was rare 
that we went more than a day between seeing people. That was a surprise. The 
fires this year were not entirely unexpected--we knew about the drought-- 
but it was still a pain to deal with the detours and closed trails. Still, 
the mountains were  beautiful  and the wildlife plentiful - I got what i 

>2. Was it harder or easier than you expected?  Why?

Navigation was less of a problem than I expected. Water was less of a 
problem too, despite the drought, because we had more experience in handling 
long distances between water sources. We never ran out completely.  However, 
this hike was also harder in some ways, simply because we were older and our 
bodies gave us a lot more trouble than we expected.  Altitude hit both of us 
hard in Colorado, and we had problems with it for about half the state. The 
snow in Colorado was less of a problem than I expected.  We were early, but 
even so there were only a few places where I felt like I was in danger 
because of the snow. And that's saying a lot since I have a phobia about 
falling. It slowed us down a bit, but most of the time the snow wasn't that 
big a deal.

>4.  How would you compare it to the other long trails you've hiked?

The CDT is still my favorite trail.  It is the most challenging, the most 
beautiful, and the one with the most wildlife, which is one of my greatest 
pleasures when hiking.

>5.  Did you enjoy this hike? Why or why not?

I loved this hike.  I wish we hadn't had the physical problems that we did, 
but they didn't get in the way of our enjoyment.

>6.  Would you/will you do the CDT again?  What would/will you do 

We will do parts of the CDT again.  Probably not the whole thing in one 
shot, but you never know.  I already miss it and want to go back. I really 
love this trail. If I were to thruhike again, I honestly don't know whether 
I would want to go north to south or south to north -- both directions have 
advantages, and I enjoyed both hikes we did, though they were very 
different.  I would continue to look for interesting alternatives. Maybe a 
flip, starting in NM and jumping to Montana, so we could get both worlds.

>7.  Favorite and/or least favorite Trail towns?

I like towns that are easy to walk around:  Creede, Leadville, Dubois, 
Lincoln.  My least favorite were the spread out towns - Rawlins and Grants.

>8.  Good/bad wildlife encounters?

We saw a lot of deer, elk and antelope.  A few posed for us.  We also saw 
mountain goats, bighorn sheep and moose, but not in abundance. We never had 
any problems. Only two bears - one black and one grizzly - and neither 
encounter was at close range.  Most unusual were the mink and ferret that we 

>9.  Best/worst part about hiking the CDT?

Best: Wildlife, beautiful scenery,  creating our own routes

Worst: roadwalks, motorcycles and ATVs on the trail

>10.  Any rants or raves?

Rant - I really disliked sharing the trail with motorized vehicles.  There 
are too many places where the motorbikes and ATV's have destroyed the trail. 
  Running into a motorbike on narrow single-track can be really scary, when 
there is no place to go.  Worst was new trail that was turned over to 
motorbikes when it shouldn't have been - i.e. the new Nez Perce section 
north of Butte that was built only a few years ago for the CDT, but is open 
to ATVs and motorbikes. We ran into very few ATVs the last time we hiked; 
this time we ran into a lot more.  I don't know how much of that was the 
different seasons that we were hiking and how much was an increase in 
motorized use.

Raves: lots of raves: lots of good people met along the way, recent 
trailwork that made the route easier to follow, most especially the land 
that the trail passes through.  The CDT is a great hike.

>11.  Were you lonely or did you enjoy the solitude? Did you have solitude?

Not much solitude. We saw a lot more people than we expected. Few 
backpackers, but lots of other people.

>12.  Any words of wisdom for next year's hikers?  Final thoughts??

I'll repeat something I wrote earlier:  if you have a choice between doing a 
roadwalk and doing a more remote trail or track, take the more remote route. 
You won't be sorry.

Fianlally, don't be so afraid of not finishing that you lose sight of why 
you hike.  The CDT has been done, in both directions, in 7 or 8 months. You 
have time to enjoy your hike.  So do the scenic detours, enjoy your town 
visits, have fun along the way.

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