[cdt-l] Backpacker CDT Project

Thatcher Koch ironlegs at pacbell.net
Fri Sep 14 16:36:46 CDT 2007

hi ryan,
i really like the concept of a corridor and not a defined trail. as "goof" said, "the at is your undergrad, the pct is your graduate degree, and the cdt is your doctorate." i hope this will be the established plan for the cdt when i can do the hike.

Ryan Jordan <ryan at backpackinglight.com> wrote: Interesting discussion.

When I started hiking the CDT, we had no "CDT maps". Just ... topo maps (USGS 1:100k) and BLM maps for identifying private land parcels.

It was fun. Rewarding. Nonpolitical. Choose your route. Hike your hike. 

The most glorious thing about it was that (a) it wasn't the AT and (b) it wasn't the PCT.

In other words, it wasn't sanitized, and there was nothing defining what a hike along the Divide was to be. 

Here in Montana, I spend my efforts trying to preserve the "CDT" as a *corridor*, not to protect a "trail" or identify a "route" but to protect "options in the corridor for wilderness travel". 

My mapping efforts are not focused on mapping the "CDT", but on understanding (a) access points to the corridor, (b) the width of the corridor, (c) discontinuities of the corridor, (d) corridor ecosystem disruptions. A "trail" designated or not, really has no impact on corridor health. 

Unfortunately, we have to work with a political environment that needs a "trail" defined in order for it to fit into the NST system. More unfortunately, we have to address a "culture" within the hiking community that seems to want blazed routes, for one reason or another. 

The goal here is: protect the corridor and understand it's relationship to its boundary regions, who cares about the "route" through it?


 On 9/14/07, Ginny & Jim Owen <spiritbear2k at hotmail.com> wrote: It seems to me that most of the folks who volunteered for this project did
so because they thought it would be fun to hike a section of the CDT with a
small group of hikers and be part of the mapping of the trail -- not just 
because they were hoping for goodies.  That really is irrelevant to the
success of the project.

My one question about the project relates to the mapping:  before we hiked
the trail we tried to get information on recent relocations from the land 
management agencies and CDTA.  Aside from the map of the new route from the
border that we got from CDTA, (thank you!) we received very little
assistance in getting information on the reroutes.  Only one of the National 
Forests (in Colorado) sent us maps of recent trail relocations.  Everyone
else either ignored us or said, "We can't give you any information until the
trail is completed."  When hiking the trail, we ran into sections that had 
been relocated since the guidebooks were published.  We followed the new
markers or pink ribbons and found that in several cases the trail deadended
in the middle of nowhere.  Those were pretty much the only places we got 
"lost" on the trail last year.

A couple of areas immediately come to mind - the new section north of
Lordsburg, the Gros Ventre section in Wyoming, the Carson NF, etc.  I
thought it was a real shame that trail crews have spent a lot of time 
building new trail that no one can use because it is impossible to get any
information on the new trail from those responsible.  At one point we ran
into a trail crew in New Mexico that asked if we had walked their recently 
completed new section of trail.  We would have, had we known about it, but
we didn't so we couldn't.

So, for the teams that were out there this year, did they follow the old
outdated routes (which route, the Westcliffe route or Jim Wolf's?), did they 
actually get some information from CDTA or the Forest Service on relocations
that have been done since the guidebooks came out, or did they just skip the
sections that were under construction?

I remember a few years ago when there was a similar project to assess the 
state of the trail and one of the groups said they had been using a 20 year
old guidebook in southern Montana, without understanding that there had been
updates since the book was published that completely changed the route. 
That group had a very hard time, but more important, their assessment was
pretty useless because it did not concern the actual trail, just a previous
incarnation of it.

So - was that the case this year?  And if not, where can we get some 
information on the relocations so next year's hikers can have the


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Ryan Jordan
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