Life is not a project, but a journey to be enjoyed.

Catherine Pulsifer
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Later this June, I’ll be dropped off in Montana and begin heading south on the Continental Divide Trail, a pathway that one hiker describes as, “Raw, wild, remote and unfinished; it is a trail that will make use of all the skills of an experienced backpacker. It is also a trail that is beautiful, stunning and perhaps the most rewarding of the major long-distance hiking trails.”

The total distance is approximately 3,100 miles, though most thru-hikers – including this one – will not stay on the official trail, cutting here and adding there, including the Teton Traverse and the Cirque of the Towers in the Wind River Range among others. The breakdown of the “official” trail goes like this: 2100 miles across 20 National Forests, 380 across 13 BLM areas and 280 across four National Parks.

The highest point on the CDT is Gray’s Peak in Colorado (14,270′) and the lowest point is at the northern terminus: Waterton Lake, Glacier National Park (4,200′), although due to Covid, I’ll be starting from Chief Mountain in the Blackfeet Indian Reservation on the east side of the park. The total elevation gain is 457,000 feet!

It’s a dryer trail than the PCT, so there will be logistics to plan as far as water carries and caches. In addition, the distance between towns is about 5-7 days, so I’ll be weighted down. It should take me 4 1/2 months to walk. Now it’s your turn to say “Kia kaha and happy trails!”

I walk four miles with heavy feet, gasping for air as my heart races, then hit the SOS.
I take an alternate along the Sun River to avoid blowdowns and ride a horse across a ford.
It’s flat through a flower filled burn area then a balcony walk looking and climbing up and over dead fall.
The trail heads up a steep slope with views of snow-capped mountains, then into a fairy forest.
The start of ‘The Bob’ is a seven-mile stretch of blowdowns on PUDS or pointless up and downs.
It’s a long, overgrown and buggy walk out of East Glacier towards the wilderness.
The final push out of Glacier is over Signal Mountain then through Blackfeet Nation land.
The CDT alternate over Dawson Pass is some of the finest ‘balcony walking’ of any trail.
I get an early start with shade all the way to final zigzags up Triple Divide Pass, then spend hours
The walk is hot through overgrowth, past spectacular falls and views to a burn area with no shade.
The trail up to Piegan Pass was covered in snow over switchbacks and required careful crossing.
The hike was short, but surprisingly steep in forest and meadow, followed by a hot road walk.
I walked up my first pass at Red Gap strong and assured through wildflowers and one bit of snow.
Getting CDT permits was tricky and we had only a short hike to Elizabeth Lake, but it was stunning.
From the border at Chief Mountain, it was a nine-mile walk off trail and through thunderstorms.
Before the hike comes the blessing, and on the way out, those blessings become reality.
I wrote this right after I had both hips replaced, caught covid and was unsure I'd hike again.
I'm trying something new on the CDT: making my own maps and not bringing a stove.