Thru Hike #2; Electric Boogaloo CDT Style

It’s Official: Sprite Hikes the CDT

With less than a year having returned from my thru of the Appalachian Trail (AT), I find myself feverishly planning for a very last-minute decision to embark on a thru of the Continental Divide Trail. Only, this time, I’ll be on my own. If any of you have read any of my previous pieces with the trek, you’ll notice that Smugness was by my side for the entirety of the journey. He was my rock, he saved my knees, and he was an essential part of my experience of the trail. However, when I proposed that we embark on another journey this summer, Smugness had to sadly decline. Instead, he excitedly encouraged me to follow my dreams, assuring me that he would do all the he could to help and support me!

It was a tough call for me to make when I found out that I wouldn’t be sharing this experience with my partner. I changed my mind about a million times before I solidified my decision… and even then, I didn’t really make up my mind, my gut made the decision. One morning, out of curiosity, I researched the date that I might like to start on, and then inquired about shuttle services to the Crazy Cook monument (the Southern Terminus). As it happens, there was 1 seat left on the shuttle for my ideal day. Without thinking, I booked it. Suddenly, my stomach dropped as I realized what I had just committed to and consequently started researching flights and hotels in an almost frantic manner. Within an hour, I had my flights, my hotels, and my buses booked. If it wasn’t official before, it definitely was now!

Just as I find myself settling back into the comforts of home, I’m called back out. This photo was taken directly after booking my flights in hopes of catching a candid moment of joy.

Semi-Thoughtless Consequences

As I may have indicated previously, I am working towards a career in adventure therapy (what that is, I’m still working out). While on the trail last summer, I spent a few days preparing an application for a Master of Counselling program. Much to my surprise, I got in! Further to my surprise, classes started the morning after my return from the AT. When I booked my trip to the CDT, naturally, I didn’t consider the consequences it would have on my degree. For example, my program runs through the entirety of the year with mandatory attendance in the spring and summer. Luckily, the stars had aligned and my program coordinator granted me permission to obtain the credits through an independent learning contract. Essentially, I’ll make them up in the following semesters and endure a heavier course load than the rest of my cohort.

As for my current employment, I would obviously have to quit both my jobs in quite a short period of time. I feel very lucky that my boss took me back after my initial departure for the AT. Thus, I dreaded delivering the news that I would once again be leaving. Thankfully, he was happy for me and seemed to be happy to support my decision. As for the other job, the news was received much the same as they explained I would be welcomed upon my return.

Taking My Own Advice


One of the most common questions I receive about thru hiking has to do with gear-picks. When you search of the best gear lists and advice , there are two things to keep in mind. First, gear is incredibly personal. Second, nothing accurately simulates how your gear will serve you on trail. Being a bit of a gear junkie/connoisseur, I like to keep up to date on all the latest backpacking gear.  I used to believe that cross-referencing popular gear items, with the highest rated items would give you an optimal setup. Using this method to buy gear is a good way to start the search, for sure. though, it leaves out the most important metric: your preference. Are you a cold sleeper? Righty or lefty? Early-Bird, or Night-Owl? Such questions!!

Importance of Honesty

When it comes to choosing gear, be honest with yourself. How are your morale and endurance impacted by your choices? For example, if you happen to be an ounce-weeny (like myself), ask yourself: can you put up with sleeping on a torso pad for 150 days? For some, the answer is yes. However, I found there are some comforts and conveniences that can be forgone in the short-term, but have larger impacts in the long-term. Further, I don’t recommend buying expensive gear before setting out on trail. The trail will tell you what you need. In conclusion, the advice I give when it comes to gear, is take what you have, and then buy what you need once you figure that out (within reason).


When I reflect on my preparations for the AT, I tell people that flexibility is the best plan. I spent a solid year planning mileage for each day, only for that plan to be rendered useless by day 10. The amount of confounding variables that impact your mileage is too great. So, realistically, the only thing that this level of preparation provides is piece of mind. Moreover, I tend to tell people that it’s more beneficial to plan as you go. By taking the trail section by section, you can more accurately estimate your daily mileage, and meet your real-time nutrition needs.

The Comparison Problem

These bits of learning are fantastic to pass on to first-time Appalachian Trail hikers, but I question the relevance of my advice in context of the CDT. First, the AT is a forgiving trail, in that the green tunnel and shelters provide safety from the elements. Quite frankly, you can mess up and be ok. Second, the AT is HEAVILY marked and maintained making navigation a next to non-issue. Third, the AT is well travelled and close to civilization. The odds that you can get into town or find help in an emergency are high. Conversely, the CDT is none of these things which is why I catch myself impulse purchasing gear, and reading day diaries of previous CDT hikers. So much for taking my own advice…

Finding pizza after 25 miles of rain was never an issue on the AT

Making Meaning

In attempts to honour this experience, my main goal on this hike is to make meaning of it. In doing so, I aim to journal my experience extensively, while shifting my mindset on trail. When I hiked the AT, I expected the trail to change me. In reality, the trail provided the time and the opportunity to choose to change. Admittedly, I didn’t spend a lot of time on self-reflection. I had people, podcasts, and Smugness by my side to keep my mind occupied. This time, I will spend more time deep-diving into my personal demons with hopes that I resurface as a better person. The other shift in mindset has to do with the goal: finishing. The goal of finishing can loom over every pause and savoury moment like a dark cloud.

New goal: enjoy every moment. I hope that I finish the CDT, truly. Though, this time, the quality of my time on trail takes precedent over the miles I complete. How far can joy take me? Hopefully, 3200 miles.


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Comments 4

  • thetentman : Mar 17th

    Good luck. I am not sure, but good luck finding your demons. I am sure you will find your blisters.


    • Sprite the Mountain Goat : Mar 17th

      Thanks!! I’m sure the blisters will be bountiful…

  • Cindy Vaught : Apr 3rd

    I wish you all the best as you tackle the CDT. I live in the Silver City area and am planning to section hike from Crazy Cook Monument to Silver City in a week or two. I’m older and will be taking my time. I have the luxury of watching the weather and having a personal shuttle driver/trail angel. Take care!


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