In 2 short months I’ll have started my journey on the Continental Divide Trail! Today’s walk will have been a whole lot of nothing… except maybe some rattle snakes and dead animal carcasses. I am so excited I can’t sit still, metaphorically speaking at least because that’s all I’m doing right now actually, with trying to get work wrapped up and getting my trip planning done. So here’s an update on how it’s all going…
(Day 4– photo credit: Wired, thanks Wired)
Trip planning is going pretty well. As you would expect I have spreadsheets organizing my planning, in fact, I have a spreadsheet keeping track of the spreadsheets that are keeping track of the planning. I can’t imagine how completely overwhelming preparing for a hike like this would have been before the age of the internet! I have done 99.9% of my planning sitting right here on my couch. I am so very thankful for the kindness of my online CDT community; I have been able to read blogs of past hiker’s trips, review gear lists, participate in a daily conversation in our CDT Facebook group on topics ranging from water logistics, navigation approaches, route choices and food. I can’t wait to meet some of you on the trail this summer!
My gear list is almost complete. My ‘big three’ (backpack, sleeping bag, tent) weights in at just 4.2 pounds (1.9kg for my Aussie friends). I was hopeful to keep my base pack weight, which is weight before food, water and fuel, to around 12 pounds (5kg). However I think I’ll be a little closer to 12-14, unless I go stoveless which is actually a possibility I’m entertaining. I am counting every ounce in my potential gear list and so far I’m only letting through the essential items, which has me sitting at about 11 pounds, but with some items still to tie down. The top luxury items I’m hoping I can get in include camp shoes and a little blowup pillow, so we’ll see if they make the cut. I sure hope so. I have piles of gear everywhere now too, which is pretty fun because I’m a bit of a gear nerd.
This is my current shoe selection, but I think I’m going to kick the Hokas off the lineup and I’ll probably plan to stick with the Brooks Cascadias (the other 3) for my trail shoe. If it’s going well after the first few weeks, I’ll order another 3 pairs of these as I’ll probably need 6 pair over the course of the hike.
What are you going to do about food? This is probably the second most commonly asked question I’m asked. The first question is always, ‘So, have you seen Wild?’, I have, and no that’s not the same trail, and yes I promise not to kick or throw my shoe off a cliff. So…. I’m finally starting to really put some thought into how I’m going to keep myself fed. The starting point is that I’ll be in the wilderness about 130 days, average about 22 miles a day (excluding town rest days), eat 5-6 times a day, burn about 6-7000 calories a day, and pass through a trail town about every 5 days give or take. In trail towns I will resupply, EAT, do laundry, EAT, take a shower, EAT, sleep in a bed, EAT, EAT and EAT. I plan to take a hybrid approach to getting food supplies; I will mail myself a resupply package to most of the towns (food, maps for the next trail section, new shoes every 500 miles etc) and I will also buy some of my food in the towns as I go along to keep it flexible in case i’m sick of eating any particular foods. I placed the first of my food orders last night, and by Thursday I should have 54 cases of product from PRO and Clif on my living room floor. I was expecting Amex to call me today to ask if I had fallen victim to a credit card fraud (which incidentally they didn’t… what kind of a warped customer profile do they have on me???). Anyway, here’s the breakdown:
- Meal replacement: 92 PRO meal bars.
- Electrolytes/Energy: 144 sleeves of Clif electrolytes, 96 Clif Shot Gel packets and 72 packets of PRO Bolt chews.
- Snacks: 165 Luna bars, 120 Clif Bars and 36 PRO Fuel bars.
- Protein/desert: 36 PRO Base bars and 12 Luna Protein bars
Crazy right! I’m never going to want to touch this stuff again after this walk! Oatmeal, pop tarts, jerky, tortillas, olive oil, bacon bits, peanut button, ramen, pasta sides, freeze dried idaho potatoes and mountain house pro packs are also likely to feature on my gourmet food menu.
Training definitely isn’t happening anywhere near as much as I would like because I’m just so busy at work or doing my trip planning. I’ve been working out at the gym 30-60 mins about 5 days a week, and throwing in some hikes to Hidden Peak (3000ft over about 90 minutes) here and there. I need to step that up and in a few weeks start carrying a pack to get my muscles in pack shape. I’m always in pretty good hiking shape, because I hike year-round a lot, but that’s not going to prepare me for the kind of miles I’ll be putting in on the trail day after day. So, mostly my plan is to do what I can now, but take it a little bit easy the first 2-3 weeks on the trail while my body gets in good trail shape, no 20 mile days right off the bat. This is really important to avoid getting injured. I’ll make up for that with 25-30 mile days in Wyoming and Montana.
As far as work, home, and plans after the trail… I have exciting news on that front too… After announcing my plans to resign, move, and set up a new life somewhere else after the trail, the winter hit and I realized how much I really love life in the ski industry and living in the mountains. I started feeling less and less like I could make the transition to living in a city in Australia (but love to visit and still will!) or to be working in an industry that I don’t love and believe in as much as skiing, outdoor recreation and tourism. So, the ski industry being where I want to be, what better place to be than Little Cottonwood Canyon? Haha, so to do a total back flip, I’ve now had to tell family, friends and work that I’m not leaving after all… just taking a really long walk. I am really thankful for the support I’ve been given by everyone involved in this change of direction, especially my family in Australia who …n e a r l y… got me back.
So hiking i shall go in 2 short months. My first steps will be from the below spot on the Mexican border in southwest New Mexico. What a crazy adventure this one is going to be……..I can’t wait!!!