I expect to reach the Canadian border around 5 1/2 months after I begin.

Weather will be a limiting factor however. Due to the possibility of winter snows in Montana, it will be important to reach Canada by mid September.

The Continental Divide Trail is by nature a more individual trail than the others I have walked.   There are only around 50 people each year that attempt a thru hike going one direction or the other, and there are multiple beginning and ending options.   The general consensus is that if a person begins their hike solo, they will be solo most of the time. I expect to run into people now and then but am prepared for a solo hike.    This was my experience for my last CDT hike and I expect the next one to be similar.    If I had to guess, I would expect to be alone 60 or 70% of the time.
No, I will not carry a weapon; besides being unnecessary, it would simply be too heavy.
I have a healthy respect for bears and practice common sense to avoid unpleasant encounters. I’ve lost track of the number of black bears I’ve seen in the wild, certainly several dozen. In every case, they have been running away.

When in grizzly country, I will cook my evening meal and then walk a few miles before I set up camp. I will hang my food or use bear boxes if they happen to be provided. Unless required to do otherwise, I will setup camp in areas that are not frequented by other campers; areas that the bears do not already associate with free food. I will be carrying a can of bear pepper spray for peace of mind and will make plenty of noise to avoid surprising a bear on or near the trail.
My base weight (pack and gear without food or water) should be around 12 pounds. There will be times when I will need to carry up to 6 liters, 12 lbs, of water and 18 lbs of food. See my Gear List
Base weight is the weight of a pack without any food or water.   It is the weight of all items that you will be carrying not including what is worn.
Normally, I’ll be carrying a 4 to 6 day food supply; Occasionally I will need to carry more, and there are a few stretches where I may be 9 or 10 days between resupply points.    I am not a big person and don’t have much reserve, so these long stretches are one of the biggest challenges for me.   It is practically impossible to carry enough food to replace the calories burned during a day.    To counteract this calorie deficit, I eat extra in town.    Believe me, a two or three thru hikers are many a Chinese buffet owner’s nightmare.
I will resupply in towns along the trail.   Most of these towns will be a significant hitch from the trail; anywhere from 5 to 30 miles.   Sometimes I’ll need to walk up to 15 trail to get to town.   Sometimes I will resupply using mail drops.   By the way, I’ve listed my expected Mail Drops so people can mail me letters or snacks. SmileyFace
Food is an important topic for the starving thru hiker; something that we think about nearly all the time. It just isn’t possible to carry enough food to replace the calories burned while hiking the trail. As a result, it’s important to “binge” in town when possible. Town stops are a good time to have fruits and vegetables. After that, I try to eat whatever I’m craving because my theory is that your body craves what it needs. Usually something like a hamburger.

  • Breakfast: pop tarts, dry cereal and powdered milk, cereal bars, energy bars, trail mix, oatmeal.   Funny thing; I eat oatmeal nearly every morning at home but just don’t care for it on the trail.   That may have something to do with eating it cold on the trail.
  • Lunch: Peanut butter, flower tortillas, bagles, english muffins, cheese, summer sausage, pepperoni, etc …
  • Dinner: Cooked food will be meals that involve boiling water and throwing in the ingredients. Things like Ramen noodles, Lipton pastas, Rice-a-roni, instant potatoes, etc… Usually combined with tuna, salmon, or chicken packaged in those little foil packets. I also have some freeze dried foods that I’ll use in my mail drops.
  • Snacks: Snikers, Clif bars, Lara bars, other energy bars, granola bars, gorp, and whatever happens to be available that can supply calories for energy.

 

I have a small 1 liter pot that I will use to cook all my evening meals. For a stove, I will use either an Olicamp Ion Micro canister stove or Esbit solid fuel tablets. I’ll use the canister stove in areas where I am able to find replacement fuel canisters and the Esbit tabs when I cannot.
I’ll drink from springs, streams, windmills, and stock ponds along the trail.   In the past, in the interest of weight savings, I have used chemicals to treat my water.   Last CDT hike, I used a SteriPen UV light water purifier, but this time I plan to use the Sawyer Mini filter.   I will also have chlorine dioxide tablets for backup.

I was actually very pleased with the Steripen on my last hike, but the Sawyer filter is about the same weight and does not depend on batteries.  My Steripen quit working midway through Montana and I had to revert to using my bleach backup.  I’m hoping with the Sawyer to avoid a similar dilemma and as a bonus  won’t need to rely on batteries.

I expect I will be hiking most of the day.   I’ll probably start out hiking about 15 miles/day but expect to eventually average about 20+ miles per day.   I do not intend to get into a hurry but will just take the trail a day at a time.   I’m sure there will be some 30+ mile days and some 5 mile days, it just depends on the section of trail and other factors like the distance between towns.   That said, the need to reach Canada by mid September will require that I keep my daily average around 20 miles per day.
I will take some “zero days” in town, though I may focus more on “nearo days” to give my body a chance to recover.   A zero day is a day with zero hiking miles, while a nearo day is a very small mileage day.   I hope this time around to actually take some zero days at picturesque places on trail.
Unlike the AT, there are no shelters on the CDT.   My current plan is to use my ZPacks solo hexamid in New Mexico but I may switch to my Tarp Tent Notch in Colorado like I did last time.   I also expect to cowboy camp (sleep under the stars with no tent).
I expect to stay in a hotel (or hostel when available) every 7 – 10 days or so.   This will give me the opportunity to shower and do laundry.   Sometimes, however, I may just stop in town long enough to resupply and get back on the trail.
Well, that depends.  On average somewhere between every 5 and 10 days.  The longest I’ve gone without a bath was 14 days.   I’ll see if I can break that record this time.
Go to the Contact Jim page and email your question to me.   My friend, JK, will try to update this FAQ accordingly.