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After Shantaram and my sailing book, I had somewhat of a reading drought. Julie had the Kindle for over a month reading Shantaram and I wasn’t ready to move on after such an ensnaring story. And then we made it back to Findlay where we have our physical books stored. With my new Projects list, I remembered that we’d actually thought of hiking the CDT (Continental Divide Trail) this past summer right after the AT so we purchased a CDT planning guide.
I picked up Yogi’s CDT Handbook: Planning Guide by Jackie, McDonnell (aka Yogi) and dove in. It’s by no means a professional, polished book. It’s not very technical or very definitive on many issues relating to long distance hiking. But it was a fun and motivating book for someone that has thru hiked before and is thinking about hiking the CDT. And now I’m thinking a lot more about hiking the CDT!
The book isn’t long, maybe 120 pages with a good amount of pictures (it’s at least an 8 ½” x 11” book so it wasn’t that small)l. It’s clearly stated that the book is meant for people that have hiked before because she does not go into the basics of living outside such as what to eat, what to wear, how to resupply, etc. Instead, she and a host of her hiker friends share their views on the various questions that are bound to come up in planning to do the CDT. It is often insightful, sometimes funny, and at moments inspiring.
It’s also a little narrow at times too. By that, I mean that most of her hiker friends that are writing tend to be very similar. There is little variety and there were few that I related to personally. There was a couple, Brian and Lisa, that actually seemed close to Julie and I from a personality perspective and as a result, I appreciated their insight but was otherwise generally disappointed in her contributors’ writings.
I did very much like Yogi’s writing. She usually started each section – such as Bears, Navigation, and Embracing the Brutality, with her own views and then would show all her hiker friends’ opinions. Hers were usually the most helpful and well written. I would prefer if she actually wrote more and left her friends’ writings as little supplements rather than the bulk of the information.
I also would have liked a little more clarity and directness on what she thought was the best way to go about thru hiking the CDT given her experience. I realize that we all “hike our own hike” and there are numerous ways to thru hike a trail but with her experience (multiple thru hikes on all three long trails) I would really like to know what she thinks more decisively.
With all this said, I flew through the book and began to get excited about planning our next hike. We have a tentative idea of hiking the CDT in the summer of 2013. We have now both hiked the AT and the PCT and have only the Rocky Mountains remaining. This part of the country is largely unknown to both of us and somewhat mysterious. There are the stories about there not being a clearly defined route or markers as there are on the other trails. Yogi confirms this. We also have heard that we need to know how to read maps and use a compass and GPS. Yogi confirms this too. We also have heard that it’s an amazing trail with some of the best scenery anywhere and some incredible experiences to be had. Thankfully, Yogi confirms this as well.
So I’ve read the planning guide. We’ve found a time to potentially fit the trail in in the next two years and now it’s time to start preparing. We’ve never actually planned much for any of our hikes before but from what we’ve learned on the AT and PCT, we have some plans for this time around. We’ve got some gear and clothing issues to work on and we’re also thinking of dehydrating our own food. So when we get out to Seattle this coming summer, it’s time to start preparing for CDT 2013.