[cdt-l] To Stimulate Discussion

Karl L. Luce k_luce at comcast.net
Sat Nov 18 19:58:12 CST 2006

Hi Jim and Ginny,

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

My expectations were all over the map, this being the first time on the CDT.
This particular hike is a long-time fantasy of mine now realized.  It was a
loop using the San Juan CDT and the Creede cutoff.  It lived up to the
expectations and perhaps a bit more.

2. Was it harder or easier than you expected?  Why?
It was about what I thought it would be.  Pretty hard but acclimated well to
the altitude within a few days.

3.  What do you wish you had known before you hiked?  What did you know, but

didn't really pay attention to that perhaps you should have?  What were you 
told about the trail that turned out to be wrong?

I wish I had noted that motor bikes are allowed on one section between the
Lost Trail Creek and Pole Creek watersheds.  There is a dangerous part as
you descend Pole creek to the confluence with Middle Pole Creek, where the
valley narrows and the trail crosses the creek twice.  Not much room to get
off and let them by.  I had heard the bikes coming a long way so I held off
before descending into the canyon but it was scary nonetheless.

I knew pretty much everything I needed to know (with one exception).  Some
minor reroutes (compared to my guide and map) became apparent and then
resolved themselves.

The one thing I hadn't considered before the hike was that above-treeline
campsites have no trees to hang food nearby!  For the first time that I can
remember, when I was not near treeline, I put my food in the vestibule.  It
freaked me out but I could come up with no better solution.  Any thoughts?

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

Sublime.  Absolutely tops.  The only thing close that I can make comparisons
to is the Tirloean Traverse in Austria or Haute Route in Switzerland, but
without the civilization which makes it even better!  The AT is in a
different class so I won't say one is better than the other, just different.
Certainly more navigationally-challenging than other trails, which I like. 

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

Enjoyed it for what it was and it was marvelous, despite the frequent bad
weather.  Every section was amazing; I had something new and really good to
look forward to each day.

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

I will continue to do shorter backpacks on the CDT on a regular basis while
I live nearby.  I aspire to do the whole thing some day.  Gaiters will be a
must next time, just to protect my rain pants from the rocks.

7.  Favorite and/or least favorite Trail towns?

Only a sample size of three to compare from and, from what I hear on the
list, these are some of the better ones on the CDT: Leadville, Creede, and
Silverton.  I guess I would have to put Leadville in first, Creede just
slightly behind in second and Silverton just slightly behind that.  Creede
and Silverton had the best outdoor stores but the one in Leadville is pretty
good too.  Clearly, resupply is best in Leadville and the hostel rocks.
More expensive resupply in Creede and Silverton is worse.  Silverton is also
more touristy than Creede, which is why it is more expensive, I suppose.

8.  Good/bad wildlife encounters?

All encounters were good wildlife viewing opportunities, most near dinner or
breakfast:  Pika at East Mineral Creek campsite, 3 deer feeding in the park
just below (east of) Jarosa Mesa, a big moose 40 yards away near Lost Creek,
lots and lots of elk sightings in the Middle Ute Creek basin, a lone elk on
an adjacent peak, woke a big buck out of its nap descending to North Lime

9.  Best/worst part about hiking the CDT?

There is no best part.  It is all a best part.  The worst part about hiking
the CDT is the long hikes from and to trail towns... but even that is a best
part because it confirms the remoteness of the trail.

10.  Any rants or raves?

I'd like to really rant at the USFS decision to allow motor bikes on the
section between Lost and Pole Creek watersheds.  That decision is leading
the bikers to desecrate nearby sections.  For instance, I came to Coney
Mountain from the north.  Once I made the steep climb above Ruby Creek, I
had the singular pleasure of seeing the trail being ripped up by a lone
motor bike.  I followed that for at least 4 miles before arriving above
Carson Pass.  There, it is *clearly* marked that no motor bikes are allowed
on that section.  But the motor bikes and ATVs clambering around Carson Pass
don't care, do they?  Any trail is a trail to them.

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

The solitude was awesome.  There were two 2-day sections where I saw nary
another person and much wildlife.  The other days, I could find a plethora
of horse riders and hunters (near Weminuche Pass) and no wildlife.  Wish I
had seen more backpackers or even hikers but we are definitely in the
minority in the Wenimuche.

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

If I only get to do section hikes on the CDT for the rest of my life, I will
be happy.  However, it would definitely rock if a block of time could be
finagled to do the whole thing like you, Mags, and the rest of you have

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