CDT: The Preparation

I’ve done a lot of preparation for my hikes. I enjoy it. The research and planning for me takes about as long as the actual hike. Learning and reading about these new places is something I find pleasure in. Research instills confidence when I am heading into unknown places.

Just Do It

The planning and preparation for the CDT started in October, and it has been a long road. Step one happened this past summer when I committed to the hike. The most important step is to commit to the hike and you have to honestly completely commit to it or else the preparation is silly and hypothetical.

CDT 101

My first step in researching the CDT was to establish a basic understanding of the terrain, the climate, and the geography. I have never hiked in the desert of New Mexico or in the basin of Wyoming. Thankfully I have hiked a 14er in Colorado, explored a little of Yellowstone and the Tetons, and I’ve spent two summers in Montana. This sets a nice base knowledge for everything else to come and gives me a familiarity with the trail as a whole.

The Garden Wall, Glacier National Park.

Food Resupply

My brother and I have spent a lot of time getting familiar with the resupply for this trail. I have never been too interested in prepackaging all of my food resupplies. It doesn’t seem like the correct strategy for me. My diet fluctuates too much throughout these hikes. Frankly, I have no clue what I will want to be eating 2,000 miles down the trail. It seems there are about eight resupply towns on the CDT that do not have sufficient offerings. We will have to mail food to ourselves for those resupplies. Our plan is to package the first couple of boxes for New Mexico and send those from home. For the other resupplies that require boxes we will be mailing those to ourselves from trail. Basically, when we have access to a solid grocery store we will mail food ahead to the next resupply that requires a box. This does make resupplies a little confusing sometimes, but I find it is an efficient way to do things.

We Excel at This

My brother and I have numerous spreadsheets organized for this hike. Our resupply spreadsheet has taken quite a bit of time to develop. This spreadsheet is not a definitive plan by any means. It will just operate as a reference for mileage and resupply options. There are many other hikers who post their resupply plans and provide lots of information on this subject. Firsthand experience from a reliable source is always the best.

Get into Gear

I do a lot of gear research as well. It helped to take a look at what other people have carried along the CDT to get a feel for what I will need. I already have enough gear as it is. However, I was bitten by the ultralight bug so for this hike I was determined to become more ultralight. Go figure. I ended up investing in a new pack and tent. These were two big-ticket items. I will talk more about my gear choices in another article as well as working on my published gear list.

On a ridge run above Mammoth Lakes.

Physical Preparation

I have never actually done fully dedicated training for a thru-hike. Truly it is hard to train for a thru-hike, it is hard to re-create that type of immense physical activity. I am very active otherwise and that benefits me a lot. I’m hoping all the skiing I’ve done this winter has strengthened my legs at least a little bit. After all, I should hit my 100th day before starting the trail if all goes to plan. So I generally go into each thru-hike with a basic level of fitness and then go from there. I’ll be taking the first week or so at an easier pace to slowly get in to it.

Shake It Down

Now as far as backpacking preparation we do have a shakedown hike planned for the end of the month. To specifically practice desert hiking we will be heading down to Death Valley for a three-day trip. These shakedown hikes do help a lot. It definitely helps to put everything together and do some miles. I will be writing an entry to let you know how that trip goes.

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