Okay, what is 160 miles long, is virtually treeless, has very little water, and features high winds up 40 mph all day? You probably first think of death valley. WRONG! It is the CDT inside the Great Divide Basin of southern Wyoming, plus the 40 miles south of Rawlins. I just hiked that section, and I am sure happy that I carried plenty of sunscreen and water purification solution.
Hello Wyoming! A Tail of Trail Magic.
I really wanted reach the next trail town, Rawlins, Wyoming, with as much road walking as possible. But my maps of the official CDT route did not seem to have as many miles on roads as I expected after reading various accounts on Facebook from hikers in front of me, including Allgood, the founding member of the Portland Mafia group I embarked with on April 18. A couple of hours after crossing into Wyoming I encountered Mammoth, the second southbound thru-hiker I met within a one hour period. Wow, southbounders already! Mammoth and Phantom started at the Canadian border on June 1 and they reached the half-way point of the CDT already. But it was Mammoth’s description of the alternate route on a long stretch of road that easily, although in a dry and boring way, led to Rawlins. I wanted to take that route.
Colorado: See ya later!
As I left Steamboat Springs on July 21 I was looking forward to hiking terrain that was more forgiving, less steep and at lower altitude. I was disappointed with my progress throughout northern Colorado, and my knee had begun hurting again since I ascended the 12,250 foot Parkview Mountain just a few days prior. I was so happy that my friend Scott Larson of Steamboat generously gave me a ride to the trailhead near Rabbit Ears Pass, and the home stretch toward the Wyoming border began! I didn’t even mind the cooling effects of the rain that made the forest look and feel like the southern Washington Cascades.
I enjoyed a 25 mile day hike on July 15 inside Rocky Mountain National Park where the official CDT route makes a nice loop up to Flattop Mountain (12250′). It was on Flattop where I hiked in 1977 with my brother Brian, and my first serious mountain hike at 23 years old.