Planning for a CDT hike can be absolutely exhausting. The route options, resupply within that route, and the milages between is enough to give a person a severe headache. But if you have Yogi's Planning Guide, things are put into perspective.
Before I started planning, I had a vague idea of the CDT and its routes, mostly due to my friends who have hiked it and a few movies I saw on You-tube and Vimeo. I even drove a few friends nuts, with questions, [sorry Onion]. But now I know exactly what I want to do.
So before I go any farther, if you are planning a hike on the CDT, do your self a favor, and order Yogi's guide book. You will thank her later.
At first, when I was dreaming of thru-hiking the CDT, I was thinking of attempting in establishing a record. But as I began doing the research, I realized that unless you were to do the "so called" official route [we'll go over that in a minute], a record would be meaningless. Basically the person who has the fastest time, was not on the official route all of the time, so therefor I strongly believe that his "so called" record is for his route. If I was to attempt in establishing a CDT record, I would stay as close as I could to the official route. But that is where things changed for me. For one, there are routes that I want to see, that are not on the official route. For two, I want to get the most from my CDT adventure. Pacing out another record hike has not left my mind, but wanting to get to know the Continental Divide and its highlights is far more important than another record attempt.
So, to begin with, I will be hiking NorthBound, from the New Mexico border with Mexico. There are 3 options [routes] to chose from. I could start at the "Wolf route" near Columbus New Mexico [the easiest starting point to get to]. I could also start from Antelope Wells, New Mexico [the farthest south]. I will start from Crazy Cook though, where there is a new Southern Terminus Monument, as well as being the beginning of the official route.
I will remain on this route till shortly after the town of Silver City, where I will choose to hike the Gila River route. I do have the choice of hiking the Gila Mountain Route [official route], but I would miss so much. I want to hike into the Gila Cliff Dwellings, and all of its hot springs. I have been dreaming of this portion of the hike since I began familiarizing myself with the CDT, so missing this would be like missing the Eagle Creek Trail on the PCT.
Next, I will be staying on the the official route most of the way through the remainder of New Mexico, with the exception of some small detours to check out ghost towns, ancient indian sites and some minor peak bagging.
Shortly after hitting the Colorado border, I will have the choice of either taking the Creede route around the high San Juan Mountains or staying on the official route on the divide. I will surely chose staying on the divide, no matter what kind of snow I will have to deal with.
Shortly there after, I will have another choice of hiking the Silverthorne route or the Gray Torreys Route. The Gray Torreys Route, has more dramatic scenery and climbs Grey Peak, the highest point on the Continental Divide. I would not miss this for obvious reasons.
Next, when I get close to Rocky Mountain National Park, I will have a chance to hike the RMNP loop trail. It is a bit over 20 miles, but everyone who has done it, recommends it, those who did not do it, regrets it. I do not want to be one of the people who regrets this.
In Wyoming, I will have a choice to hike through the Ferris Mountains, or the The Great Divide Basin. Although the Basin is Hot, and Dry, I will take the advise of nearly everyone who has come before me and take the Basin.
Farther up the trail, I will again have another choice of taking the shorter Macks Inn Route with more road miles, or the Henry's Lake Route that walks around Henry's Lake and stays closer to the divide.
I will definitely hike around Henry's Lake to stay closer to the divide and off the roads.
Once in Montana, I would have a choice to the Butte Super Cut off, but I will chose to stay closer to the divide at this point.
I will then have a hard choice of doing the Anaconda Route that is shorter, and an easier resupply option, or the Butte Route that is much longer but closer to the divide. The Butte Route supposedly, has came a long way in recent years as far as new trail tread, has less road miles and like I said closer to the divide. I will chose the Butte Route, and I hope I still have it in me, when I get there, for I know the lure of food and a sooner finishing date.
Finally, while reaching the Canadian Border, you have another choice. The Shorter Chief Mountain Route, that finishes just south of the Canadian Border, or the more scenic Waterton Park, North of the Canadian Border. I will definitely want to cross the border and hike into Canada.
So there it is, my intensions and an explanation regarding. The best I come up with, is around 2800 miles. That is taken from two different sources, the Ley Maps, and the Wolf Guides, that conflict one another, sometimes considerable.