Tuesday, January 9, 2024

The Continental Divide Trail

There are more than a few dozen who have completed the Triple Crown. I think the current number is 85.

Before I hiked the Appalachian Trail I had been reading trail journals for years. I read so many amazing adventures (mostly of the AT) but every once in awhile there would be a hiker who would go on to hike the Pacific Crest Trail and then the Continental Divide Trail. It’s called the Triple Crown when you have thruhiked all three trails. Anyway, that’s when the dream began to hike all three trails. It was really just a pipe dream, my focus at the time was just learning all I could about the AT.  Fast forward more than a decade and here I am all these years later having hiked the Appalachian Trail and the Pacific Crest Trail with one more trail to go. In reality there have been many smaller trails that were just as much fun in between (and I’m sure there will be many more smaller trails in my future) but in my mind there is just that one big trail left to do! 

One of our shorter hikes was the Selkantay Trek in Peru!

Many of those shorter hiking trips had been taken with my daughter and there had been many conversations about her hiking the CDT with me but it still seemed like more of a dream than a goal that was actually going to happen. All of that changed recently when my daughter purchased seats on a shuttle to the border of Mexico and flights to Tucson,Arizona and said “We are going on a trip!” I am so freaking excited about this! It’s awesome that she wants to hike it and hike it with me (even though she already knows I am a lot slower than her). I saved this trail till the end because it is a more difficult trail that requires good navigation skills (most hikers who have hiked it say they lost the trail almost daily) but she is choosing to do it as her first long trail! I’m so thankful she is willing to do this with me and make my dreams a reality!

About this trail:

The Continental Divide Trail (known as the CDT) is a 3,100 mile (4,988 km) footpath that starts at the Mexican border in New Mexico and ends at the Canadian border in Alberta. This sounds like a crazy amount of miles but it isn’t exactly a single path trail like the AT or the PCT, this trail is more like a choose your own adventure trail. It has a whole bunch of alternate route options that make the length of trail shorter or longer depending on which routes we take. Let’s just assume that we will be walking at least 2,600 miles (4,184 km)so it will end up being around the same length as the PCT. As long as we walk each step from Mexico to Canada it doesn’t matter which routes we take! The trail starts in a desert (I already am planning to hike the Gila River alternate as it takes us along a river, to natural hot springs and ancient Cliff dwellings) 

and will take us up to Colorado and several 14,000ft hills to climb! Then on to Wyoming to the Great Divide Basin, the Wind River Range and Yellowstone! Next the trail will take

us to Idaho  and then Montana where we will hike through the Bob Marshall Wilderness and Glacier National Park. It ends at the Canadian border at a monument in Watertown,Alberta. 

Wikipedia lists the hazards as:


 black bears



grizzly bears




 mountain lions

 severe weather


 Sounds like it’s going to be fun!

Here are a couple of terms hikers use and I may refer to at some point in this journal:

CDT = Continental Divide Trail

NOBO =hiking northbound (on this trail that means starting at the Mexican border)

SOBO = hiking southbound (on this trail that would be hikers who started at the Canadian border

Camel Up = drinking as much water as possible at a water source in order to carry less water

Baseweight = the weight of everything you are carrying minus consumables (food, water, fuel) and  the clothes you are wearing

Cowboy Camping = just sleeping under the stars (no hammock, tent or tarp)

There are definitely more terms I can think of but I’m not sure if they will apply to this trail. I can add as we go along.  I have been asked so many questions about not only this trail and about hiking in general and I will try get to them another day. Right now I have an adventure to prepare for! 

Thank you for taking your time to read and learn about this trail and our adventure. I hope this inspires you to go out and do what you love doing. If I can do it, so can you!


“May your dreams be larger than mountains and may you have the courage to scale their summits.” Harley King


  1. Amazing! Makes makes me want to go❤

  2. Wow Tracy , I’m so excited for you. I stumbled across this blog , so much I’ve learned from it . Every time we are together we never get a minute to really chat about it . I will follow your travels on here. See you soon xo