This page summarizes my hike of the Continental Divide Trail from Canada to Mexico through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado and New Mexico.
WHAT IS THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL?
The CDT traverses the continent from north to south passing through 5 states, 3 national parks, 20 wilderness areas, 26 national forests and 8 BLM areas. It’s anywhere from 2,500 to 3,200 miles, depending on your exact route and takes about 6 months to complete. The trail is about 80% complete with the remaining portions being road walks or cross-country travel.
Total Miles- 2500 miles (4000 kms)
2015 – 110 miles
- Mexico border north to Silver City
- Came off the trail with a stress fracture to my tibia and a broken heart.
2016 – 1800 miles
- Canadian border south to Silver City, NM.
- Skipped two large sections of trail: Wind River Range to Steamboat Springs in WY/CO and Tennessee Pass to Wolf Creek Pass in CO.
2018 – 130 miles
- Wind River Range
2019 – 450 miles
- Atlantic City, WY to Steamboat Springs, CO.
- Tennessee Pass to Monarch Pass, CO… THE END!!!
Posts from all of the trail segments are aggregated here and listed from North to South.
I hiked every segment of the CDT. I often hitched the roads in and out of trail towns, especially after Atlas joined me; this probably saved me 400 miles. I usually took the shorter alternate to the official route although many times took a longer route to the official route if it was more scenic. Trail purists believe in hiking the official route and connecting footsteps from border-to-border; I have the utmost of respect for those incredible hikers, but having hiked the trail I can tell you there’s not too many of those. “Hike your own hike” is a commonly cited expression on the trail and this was mine.
- Favorite section: Can’t pick, I LOVED all of them. Glacier, Winds, Collegiate Peaks, San Juan Mountains probably the most impressive.
- Least favorite section: None. If I had to pick, Grants to Pie Town, NM.
- Favorite experiences: hiking with Atlas, freedom, solitude, sense of constant adventure, anticipation of what’s over the next ridge, seeing so many remote and beautiful places, meeting interesting people, finishing the trail.
- Least favorite experiences: walking with a tibial stress fracture in 2015 and having to pull off the trail for the year because of it, creepy cowboy hitch, face-time with Grizzly bears, road walking, long water carries, blisters and tweaked muscles/tendons.
- Longest day: 33 miles (53kms), out-walking a storm in the Scapegoat Wilderness.
- Longest without seeing a human: 7 days in MT
- Longest without seeing a thru-hiker: 34 days in CO/NM
- Grizzly bears encountered: 5, all in Glacier National Park MT
- Favorite trail town: Steamboat Springs, CO
- Weirdest trail town: Pie Town, NM
- Times cried: only once, and it was out of happiness, relief and sense of achievement when I saw the Grand Tetons from Idaho and knew I had almost made it to Wyoming from Canada.
- Shoes: 10, 5 of which didn’t work well for me.
- Took a wrong turn: too many to count.
- Couldn’t find the trail: too many to count.
- Totally lost: 0
- Thing I missed most: my pillow.
- Thing I missed least: the perceived urgency and importance of the ‘real world’.
- Funniest experiences: charged by a squirrel; total yard-sale because I was texting while hiking and tripped; playing cards in a broken down van on the side of I-80; being refused service for looking like a homeless person.
- Body rebellions: tibial stress fracture in 2015; blisters, extremely sore feet and weird right foot nerve pain first 1000 miles in 2016; IT band tendonitis right side the last 1000 miles in 2016 and a 300 miles in 2019; 2 toe nails lost; hip flexor left side a few times; achilles tendons both sides for 100 miles; and hilariously, extensor tendonitis left leg for the final 20 miles in 2016.
Continental Divide Trail Video A collection of still photos to music from my 2015 and 2016 hikes.
Canyon Sports Therapy Commercial A local commercial I was featured in after my 2016 hike.
SPECIAL THANK YOU TO…
- Atlas- the best trail dog I could hope for- providing constant companionship and entertainment. He hiked nearly a quarter of the trail with me!
- Trover- for giving me this crazy idea in the first place.
- Katie Dunlap- for sending me all of my resupply boxes and helping with trail logistics for my 2016 hike. Couldn’t have done it without you!
- Trail Angels- to the many kind and caring souls I met or got help from, thank you! The CDT would be impossible to hike without you!
- Hiker Trash- thank you to all of the wonderful, quirky, supportive, kind and crazy hikers I met along the trail. You made it special.
- Trish Sullivan- for putting me up at her house in Steamboat in 2016 and then driving me to Wyoming from Colorado to start a trail section in 2019.
- Bill and Linda Hoge- for driving me to/from trail segments in Wyoming in 2018 and 2019 and putting me up in their Atlantic City cabin twice and feeding me great meals!!!
- My Parents and Brother- for being constantly supportive through my multi-year pursuit of this endeavor. For raising me to believe in myself and choose my own path in life (I’m not sure they had this in mind when they did though, haha).
- The Team at Snowbird- for helping me take so much time off work to realize this dream.
- All of the Physical Therapists that got me through my many body ailments- Canyon Sports Therapy and Pinnacle Performance in Salt Lake City and others along the trail in Helena, Missoula, Steamboat and Silverthorne.
- To the many many friends and strangers who followed my adventure on this blog or on Facebook and provided words of encouragement or sent me care packages; they meant the world to me and kept me going.
Thank you to everyone who supported me in this dream!
Thanks for reading.
-Elevated and Atlas