Continental Divide Trail Prep and Training

One week. After over a year of not so patiently waiting, we’re one week away from flying out to start our CDT thru hike. Are we excited? Yes! Are we nervous? A bit. Are we mildly terrified? Depends on who you ask 😉 As a veteran thru hiker, Matt’s definitely handling the pre-trail nerves better than I am. I’m not even sure he’d call it nervousness, maybe simply an awareness of the intensity of this fast approaching adventure. I, on the other hand, have felt my anxiety creeping up more and more the closer we get to our start date. Going into unfamiliar situations has always given me anxiety though, and this doesn’t seem to be much more than what I would expect from any new, unknown thing. I’m sure once we finally step foot on trail, everything we need on our backs, it won’t take long to feel right at home again. 

A little over a week ago we packed up the van and put it in storage, then flew back to Boston to see family and wrap up some last minute gear making. Yes, we postponed this hike an entire year and still managed to leave a few things until the last minute. In our defense, most of our free time since postponing was spent building out the van, though. I think that makes it more acceptable, right? We’ve also both stopped working now, so all of our focus can go towards these projects, visiting family, and just walking. 

Before we left the southwest we fit in a few great training hikes. I wanted to hit Petrified Forest National Park before we flew out (which I’ll try to write a post about before we take off), so after we visited that we went into Flagstaff and the surrounding national forests for a few days. That’s where we were for Matt’s birthday, which we celebrated by exploring a lava tube cave and then hiking a mountain a few miles down the road. 

The hike we did after we left the cave was a smooth 9 miles round trip to summit Kendrick Peak, where we got a distant view of the Grand Canyon. We had both recently bought new hiking shoes, so this was a good chance to test them out before committing to any long days and sections with them. Possibly the best part of this particular hike, was that we seemed to have the entire mountain to ourselves, at least as far as human company goes. When we pulled in, the trailhead was empty except for our van and some free range cattle. We didn’t see or hear another person the entire few hours we were out there, which is just the way we like our hikes most days.

Along with the Grand Canyon, we also had a great view of Humphreys Peak, Arizona’s highest natural point and second most prominent peak, and our planned hike for the following day.

Matt had a bit of client work to wrap up, so we opted to spend the morning taking care of that and head out mid afternoon. One of the great things about doing this was that we were the only people heading up to the peak that late in the day, so aside from briefly passing other hikers on their way down we were pretty much alone again, and when we reached the top we had the summit to ourselves.

On the way up

With an elevation of 12,633 ft, Humphreys Peak was our highest elevation hike before we hit the CDT. Even with keeping a solid hiking pace neither of us experienced any sort of altitude sickness or anything, and we finished this hike feeling reassured about our physical preparedness for our thru hike. I forgot to make Matt take a picture with me at the top and he’s not big on posting too many pictures of himself, so sorry but all you get is me, standing alone with the sign.

In the picture above on the left, that light area you can see in the distance is the Grand Canyon. Kind of cool, right? We didn’t bother trying to make it there before leaving the area. At some point we’d like to do the Arizona Trail and that goes right through the Grand Canyon, so we figure we’ll see it then. On the right is the sunset we stopped to watch on our way back down to the van. We were only a little over a mile and a half from the van at that point, I can handle a mile and a half of night hiking for a sunset like this.

All in all those were two great hikes to wrap up our time in the southwest. It felt odd packing up the van knowing we wouldn’t be seeing it again for several months. We didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into when we moved into it, and that van became “home” much faster than either of us could have ever guessed. It’s been wild to look back at the past several months and see how much we’ve explored and experienced. This thru hike will be another great adventure, though, and when things get tough we’ll know the van is waiting for us at the other end.

To be clear, I don’t intend for this to come off as a lack of excitement about this hike. I will admit I’m a bit homesick for the van, but that’s just me, I’ve always been a homebody. On the CDT we’ll be using a tent we (mostly Matt) made a few years ago, a tent we sometimes fondly refer to as our second home. So earlier when I said I’m sure my anxiety will lessen as soon as we get on trail, this is part of the reason why. Getting back in this tent and our sleeping bags every night is basically our version of moving into a summer home. Sometimes we might get wet if it rains too hard, but aside from that it’s perfect, really.

Our tent on a trip to Vermont in 2019

I’ll try to get another post up before we take off so we can show you all some of the gear we’ve been making. After that I can’t make any guarantees about the frequency (or formatting quality) of posts on here, as I’ll be posting from my phone. No promises I’ll do it every time we go into town to resupply, either. Even if I were to post weekly or every other week, it’s better to expect less frequent updates and to assume no news is good news. Remember, I can see who’s following this blog and I know which ones of you tend to worry 😉

One thought on “Continental Divide Trail Prep and Training

  1. Fantastic update, Annie! We are so excited that you are about to get on the thru-hike trail! All the best! Take good care! Have a blast! Love, E & A


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