[Cdt-l] CDT Route Choices
Bruce L. Nelson
buck at bucktrack.com
Tue Oct 21 08:52:07 CDT 2008
I found that the many route choices were one of the things that made the CDT so interesting. There are countless possible combinations and your plans are likely to change during the course of your hike even if you decide ahead of time what routes you'd like to hike.
When I got to Cumbres Pass during the first week of June there was still deep snow in the San Juans and even in short stretches in northern New Mexico. As planned, I "flipped" up to South Pass, Wyoming and hiked south from there to give the San Juan snow time to melt. But I hit a summer blizzard a day after I left Rawlins and there was still several feet of snow in southern Wyoming and on into Colorado. I ended up road-walking a big chunk of northern Colorado to avoid the deep snow. (That's when I ran into Mags while he was volunteering for a bike race.) There was still more than enough deep snow when I got back up on the trail, I can assure you!
I did manage to hike the San Juans, in early July. There was still plenty of snow in spots but it was doable with most of the route completely melted off. If I were planning a hike of just the San Juans, I'd probably go in August to make sure the previous winter's snow has melted and before the next winter's snow begins to fall. Thru-hiker's tend to not hit the San Juans at the ideal time, snow-wise, with NOBOS usually getting there too early and SOBOS often too late, thus the popularity of the Creede Cutoff. Like everyone, you'll ultimately want to "play it by ear."
Most people hike the direct desert route between Rawlins and South Pass. That's what I did. When I hiked it there was plenty of water, and I think there is for most people if they plan ahead. I saw lots of wild horses, antelope and even found (and left) an arrowhead, so I liked the Great Divide route. Supposedly the Ferris Mountain route has more water and is more scenic but it's longer.
I did the Mack's Inn route, and I think most thru-hikers do. To be truthful I took the Mack's Inn route because most people resupply there and I just went with the conventional wisdom. I would, however, do that route again. It cuts off a big loop thus saving many miles, and makes resupply easier. Summer is short for most people hiking the CDT. Although I hiked the San Juans and the Butte Route, it worked out well for me to save the extra time by doing the Mack's Inn route.
Yup, I liked all the route choices on the CDT, even the many shorter purple route vs. red route options. Variety is the spice of life, and choices are good!
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