Saturday, December 29, 2007

Continental Divide Trail Getting Close to Completion

By Carl Benjamin

It is not Mt. Everest but, the Continental Divide Trail will soon be covered with hikers and backpackers. Since 1978, the trail has been being prepared for the day that individuals can navigate the 3100 mile trail.
The beginning actually goes back to 1966, when the idea of a trail was first talked about. Then in 1968, Congress had the National Trails System Act passed to study the feasibility of completing a trail. In 1973, Jim Wolf walked the Divide from Canada to Rogers Pass, Montana. He did a guidebook for that area. Then in 1978, Wolf started the Continental divide society. A profit group to raise funds for guidebooks about the trail. The main vision for the CDT was to establish a trail that not only brought physical and mental challenges for hikers but, also an appreciation for some of the best scenery in the Rocky Mountains.
Each year some sort of construction has been going on to open up certain sections of the trail for outdoor enthusiasts. This past spring a 41 mile section opened in Wyoming. In 2009 a 60 mile section will blaze through Colorado. Once it is completed it will go through some of the rugged terrain in America. There are many other trails in the US. Two that come to mind is the Pacific Crest Trail and the Appalachian Trail. There are also smaller trails too like the Katy Trail in Missouri and the Great Mississippi River Road Trail. However, these will be dwarfs when compared to the CDT. The CDT has been called the "backbone of America."
The CDT is tough enough to leave memories that will have backpackers and hikers boasting of their exploits the rest of their life. The stretch in Montana is especially grueling. In Glacier National Park, individuals will cross snow bridges in mid June only to reach 90 degree cow pastures a week later. As you hike, your major concerns will shift to survival. Will you make the next ridge by nightfall? Where will you find water? Where is the safest place to camp? What type of critters lurk in my path? These questions and more will more than challenge anyones character.An experience hiker can cover the entire trail in about 145 days, the novice 180 to 200 days. Like Everest, it will be a challenge because it is there. Records will be set in the early stages and broken within a year. Despite all of this, the one thing that will stand out more than anything is the spectacular views that an individual will encounter. This past year saw only about 35 complete the journey. That is going to grow quickly.
There are even specials set up for the different seasons. One for the fall season is now being done at different locations throughout the four States that the trail goes through.
If you decide to tackle this trail before it is finished, topo maps can be obtained at the CDT website ( . The website is also looking for volunteers to work and get involved in the construction of the trail. That alone would be something to leave behind in your family tree. They are looking for people from all walks of life to help in putting this trail together. The site lists the days you would be involved and the degree of difficulty involved in the work needed to be done.
Once you have registered, you will be notified in about 6 to 8 weeks on your status. If you decide to volunteer, make sure that you set aside dates on your calender and be flexible enough to be able to help out. Keep in mind, that this isn't for everyone. An individual needs to have a positive attitude and is in pretty good physical condition. Volunteer ages vary from 10 years in age to Senior Citizens. There is even opportunities for different groups to work together on projects throughout the trail.
Even though the trail isn't finished yet, there are many places to hike and backpack. If you are up to the challenge of a lifetime, you can actually discover what it was like to be a Mountain Man. If you want to be a part of the construction of this soon to be gem of America, then checkout their website.

1 comment:

Matsonian said...

My father and I are finally doing the PCT in July (just 300 miles of it). I think I will have to put the CDT on my list of life's goals. We are sharing our prep for the hike at