People generally ask the same set of questions. Here are my answers:
REALLY? ANOTHER TRAIL?
HOW LONG IS THE CDT GOING TO TAKE YOU?
The Continental Divide Trail runs from Mexico and Canada and is about 2,800 to 3,000 miles long. It’s going to take around five months to hike. I am starting at the beginning of May, and heading North.
WHO ARE YOU DOING IT WITH?
Unfortunately, I am “solo” this time. My partner, Estero already completed the CDT in 2013. Even though he can’t come with me this time, he is supportive of my dreams. Of course, I am hoping to find a “hiker bubble” on trail. Because, I can only listen to so many podcasts before I completely lose my mind.
HOW MANY HIKERS COMPLETE THE CDT EACH YEAR?
I have heard that only about 60 hikers complete the CDT each year. But, like all long-distance hiking trails, that number is increasing each year.
ARE YOU BRING A GUN WITH YOU?
This question gets asked more than you would think, and no, I am not bringing a gun. I will probably carry bear spray in Montana/Idaho/Wyoming, since they have grizzlies. But other than that, I feel really safe on trail. You’re probably more likely to die from a bee string than a bear attack. But, you never hear people ask if you’re bringing an epipen with you on trail.
HOW DO YOU GET FOOD?
I will be both stopping in towns and occasionally mailing myself resupply packages to replenish my food stock.
HOW WILL THIS DIFFER FROM THE APPALACHIAN TRAIL AND PACIFIC CREST TRAIL?
My boyfriend has hiked all 3 trails. He tells me that the CDT has more “extremes” than the AT or PCT. The desert sounds extremely hot and exposed. The San Juans in southern Colorado will be very snowy and cold. I am expecting to encounter snow for 2 or 3 weeks. And the biggest one is people. There aren’t as many thru-hikers on this trail, so I will have to face my biggest fear: loneliness.
HOW MANY MILES ARE YOU GOING TO HIKE A DAY?
Depends on my feet. I have had feet issues in the past, and need to learn how to listen to my body. I hope to start at around 18-20 miles per day and work up to around 25-30 by the end of the trail. That’s probably fine, without making me too cranky.
HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?
I wish I had kept better track of my hiking expenses. I honestly don’t know how much I spend on trail… I am guessing that I spent around $4,000-$5,000 on each hike. Your expenses will vary depending on your town experiences and gear choices. I was pretty cheap, since I don’t drink alcohol, and never wanted to stay in expensive hotels. I was fine splitting a $60 hotel room with 3 other hikers to help cut costs (plus, it’s more fun that way!)… I tried to reuse gear as much as possible from each trail, or steal gear from my boyfriend (thanks for the cuben fiber tent!). I typically only replaced my shoes when they were completely falling apart (did the AT and PCT on 6 pairs of shoes). I try to save money, since I know there are always trails to hike.
HOW CAN YOU AFFORD IT?
I robbed a bank. Just kidding. I worked a lot, and made wise investments. There honestly isn’t a magic trick. I had a tiny handful of sponsors over the years who provided small items like socks and peanut butter packets. But if you want to do this, you’ll need to save the cash yourself. Hate to say it, but nobody is going to fund your hike (and if you find someone who will, please send them my way!) 😉
HOW MUCH DOES YOUR BACKPACK WEIGH?
It ranges in weight depending on weather. I am happy when my pack weighs around 11-13 pounds. I need my luxury items like camera, stove, and battery pack. My biggest piece of advice for future hikers is to LIMIT YOUR BASEWEIGHT. There are enough lightweight products out there, that there is no reason that you’re carrying a 60 pound pack. Don’t go to REI. Shop small online cottage gear shops like Lightheart Gear Tents, ULA Backpacks, Zpacks, Enlightened Equipment Quilts, etc. Join thru-hiking groups on Facebook (hint: every major trail has a new facebook group every year), read hiker blogs and try to get an idea of what gear thru-hikers use. If someone carries the same item for multiple trails, that’s a good sign that it’s bombproof (like my ULA packs!).
Because nobody dies wishing that they worked more.
I HAVE MORE QUESTIONS. HOW CAN I CONTACT YOU?
Rayana (at) gmail (dot) com. I love your messages, and love chatting with other people who are considering long-distance hiking, or want any advice. I am an open book!