Helping Backpacker Magazine Map the Continental Divide Trail
Considered one of the greatest long-distance trails in the world, it is the highest, most challenging, and most remote of our National Scenic Trails. Ranging from 4,000 to 14,000 feet, the completed sections of the CDT provide a variety of recreational activities to many hundreds of thousands of people each year. For the long-distance hiking community, the CDT is one-third of the "Triple Crown," and annually, while the number is growing, approximately 150 ambitious travelers attempt to complete an end-to-end trek.
Parts of the CDT are still in the planning phases, and trail users must bushwhack through, or road walk around, incomplete stretches -- as of 2015 only about 80% has actual trail that is mapped. Extending 3,100 miles from Canada to Mexico, the CDT encounters a multitude of ecosystems from tundra to desert, hosts a rich variety of wildlife, and preserves nearly two thousand natural, cultural, and historical treasures. This is NOT a beginners trail. You should have map and compass knowledge and familiarity with long distance hiking before trying to do all of it. Shorter sections can be fun though.
In 2007 Backpacker Magazine provided 50 teams with GPS units, training and roughly 65 miles of tail to map. Their adventures produced the most accurate data to date on the CDT. But it didn't come easily: Some teams got lost, others suffered dehydration, tough terrain and bandaged blisters. But most created lifelong friendships, a few found salvation, and almost all came back with incredible tales.
Clay Zimmerman of High Uinta Pack Goats was privileged to be a member of one of the mapping teams; of course he took goats. Along with Jerry Gray, Trung Le (survey and note-leader), Joshua Rivet, Mari Klebe (coordination and logistics-leader), Kory Klebe, and Julie Ardoin he was part of Team 27: Goat Hikers Anonymous. They hiked a section from Targhee Pass to Aldous Lake. This section is called Idaho, but is effectively the Idaho/Montana border.
The following is from the Backpacker Magazine blog for Team 37
Team 37: Daily Reports
Sunday, July 1, 2007
Monday, July 2. 2007
Day 2: The team knocks off more miles than originally planned on the first day. Today, the team splits up to scout out a proposed trail vs. walking a road section. The team meets some nice locals, and sees lots of wildlife signs, including bear prints, antelope, and mule deer.
Tuesday, July 3, 2007
Day 3: The day starts out with a moose walking through camp. Among the many highlights, team member Julie Ardoin from Kenner, LA says she's never seen wildflower meadows this incredible.
Wednesday, July 4, 2007
While most of the country celebrated the Fourth of July, Team 37, nicknamed Goat Hikers Anonymous, is working their way across a 65-mile section from Targhee Pass to Aldous Lake in in Gallatin and Targhee National Forests of Idaho and Montana. We've received about six podcasts from the group in the last four days but the satellite phone coverage has been really spotty, making many of the reports unpublishable. Team member Trung Q Le left a quick message on one of the office cellphones and reported: "We're doing really well."
The night ended with a bang for Team Goat Hikers Anonymous. They lucked out and saw Fourth of July fireworks from a nearby town.
Thursday, July 5, 2007: Final Day
Today proved to be a trying day for the team. First, there was melting snow for drinking water. Then, lots of route finding through a maze of mines on little-traveled trails. Third, there was no water for the last 11 miles. But their thirsts were quickly quenched with cold drinks hand delivered by friends at their final destination. All told, this team hiked roughly 70 miles in an impressive 5 days.