Thus far I believe I will be carrying the lightest pack than on any of my other trails. Couple of questions though for the purpose of switching out gear.
Temperature: I have the option of carrying a lighter bag as oppose to the 15 degree. More summer like bag suggested for new mexico or wyoming basin area? or play it safe and take the one bag for the whole trip.
Bugs: when I was out on the divide last summer I was sooooo happy to have a tent, the bugs that I witnessed at some points the worse I have ever seen on any trail. With the option of being able to carry my tent fly alone for shelter, I can bounce up the body of the tent for colder temps and bugs any suggestions where I can get away just carrying the fly?
Best place to pick up ice axe maybe snowshoes, northbound - chama????
A 15* bag should be fine and maybe needed. I used a 20* bag and was never really cold. Even though it can get up to 90-100* during the days in areas, the nights are generally cool/cold. It's not like the mid-Atlantic, lots of NM is high desert, the border being the lowest spot on the trail at 4000 ft., the Red Desert/Great Divide Basin is at 8000 ft.
We had lots of mosquitoes in the Mt Zirkel Wilderness and some bugs in the basin but overall it wasn't too bad. Bring a small bottle of deet just in case.
For most of NM I slept under the stars and set up a tarp on a couple occasions when it rained. For the rest of the trail I used my Nomadlite.
My CDT pack was heavy because of the need to carry warm gear for so much of the trail plus the water issue. Carrying a gallon or more will get heavy. Because the water is shared with cows and scarce besides, we do use a filter on the CDT. We are also carrying a lot of maps - which get really heavy. Because we want to create our own routes, we aren't relying on Jonathan's mapset.
Summer really only lasted a few weeks on our southbound hike. We were hiking in snow until mid-July. Heading north will be different, but I expect to be hiking in snow from June to mid-July then again in fresh snow from early September. We're taking 20 degree bags this time. I used a 10 degree for the entire trail last time. Jim used a 20 degree and switched to a 5 degree in mid-September (right after our first major snowstorm.) Because it can snow in mid-summer in Colorado and the Winds, we'll stick with our 20 degree bags. They may not be enough in Montana, but we'll deal with that when we get there. We'll also use the tent for most of the trail. NM may be hot in May, or not. It can be windy - very windy. Since we climb to 7000' and higher fairly quickly, I doubt heat will be a problem for long. The Great Basin wasn't all that hot for us, though it can get hot, but remember that you are only in the desert there for about 10 days. Before and after that you are at 10,000'. Mailing bags back and forth for that short a stretch just isn't worth it, for me. But I'm cheap and I don't like to make my trail support work too hard.
We are getting our winter gear/ice axes in Chama, though we may not hit serious snow until Creede. The southern San Juans are at about 60% of normal right now. We'll carry Deet from early-July to early August. Usually it's the couple of weeks after snowmelt that are the worst. But at 10,000' it's cool enough bugs aren't usually that bad in Colorado. By mid-August we were getting freezing nights, which killed most of the bugs. We may carry a little DEET in NM. There are a lot of stagnant cow ponds - and those can get buggy.
Chama for the snowshoes, (and axe) especially with your dates.
I only remember bad bugs in CO and then only around sunset. I used my sil-shelter (tarp-tent) the whole way, with no regrets
I would carry the lighter bag in NM although as Sly says, it does get cold at nights, but not as cold as it will in CO at 12,000'.
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