View Full Version : Is a SOBO or NOBO thru on the CDT better suited to a slow hiker?

10-31-2011, 22:59
I averaged about 12 miles per day on my AT thru, if that helps.

Spirit Walker
11-01-2011, 12:02
I averaged 11 mpd on the AT, but 16 mpd on the cdt and 19 on the pct. The difference comes from going to town less frequently (so you don't lose the half day hiking in and out of town every few days). More important is that you aren't restricted to camping where there are shelters or water. You hike until sundown, or thereabouts - which translates into much longer miles per day. Twelve hours of hiking at 2 mph - even slow hikers like me can make good mileage.

If you aren't starting out in great shape, going northbound is easier, because you have relatively flatter country with a lot of dirt roads to follow and you aren't likely to have to deal with snow until you've been on the trail for a while. OTOH, water sources are more uncertain, so you may end up doing long days to get to the next water source. Southbound, you are likely to have snow for the first few weeks - but water is less of an issue and fires are much less of an issue.

Journals for both my northbound cdt and southbound cdt hikes are at www.spiriteaglehome.com in the journals section. There is also a discussion about the advantages of going either northbound or southbound. They both have pluses and minuses - and the kind of snow year you're having makes a huge difference. Since this is another La Nina year, chances are it will be dry in the south and wet in the north - but that's not certain yet.

11-01-2011, 13:41
Thank you, that was good reading and good information. At my pace it would easily be a 6mo hike. Is there any reason to not finish a SOBO in December?

11-01-2011, 19:14
Ya, daylight hours. I just finished up a few days ago and we were only getting 11 hours of daylight. I'd go nobo if I did it again.

11-01-2011, 19:56
Any weather/water reasons?

Spirit Walker
11-01-2011, 23:15
Echraide - we did six month hikes in both directions. SOBO we finished November 30 and NOBO in mid-October. It gets cold in both Colorado and Montana in late September/early October - and you'll probably have snow more than once. It can also get cold in NM in October/November (down to 5 degrees or so), but a lot of the country is fairly low so if you have the gear it is feasible. I've heard of people finishing in both directions in December, but wouldn't recommend it.

Water is generally better in the south in the fall, because their rainy season is late summer. When there are fire closures, they are usually in late spring. Montana on the other hand gets it's precipitation in winter, so by late summer it is usually pretty dry. So fire closures are more likely there in the autumn or late summer. Glacier more or less closes down in mid-September, which is why we flipped. Hard to get a ride from the border if the border is closed. There are ways around that though, like continuing into Waterton and hitching from there to a different border station.

And yes, it makes for very long nights when it's dark at 5 p.m. but I didn't really mind that. I was tired by the end of November and enjoyed the 12 hour sleeps.

11-14-2011, 12:32
What you might seriously consider is "chunk" hiking rather than thru-hiking. In retrospect, I think it's quite a bit more sane to carve off two to four large chunks in different years in order to be able to take your time, see more side/optional stuff (without the ever present drive to beat the snow in whichever direction), and hike stuff when it makes more sense to hike it. Even taking Creede, I just barely got out of Colorado this year (SOBO) before the snow came down with a vengeance, and it hit me somewhat hard nevertheless in the south San Juans. Ditto doing Glacier and the Bob at the beginning in lots of snow with high creek crossings. I'm still glad that I did a thru (there certainly are cool things about that too), but for anyone that considers themselves a slow hiker --- large "chunks" might be the way to go.

11-15-2011, 22:18
What was your start date and when did you hit the San Juans?

11-15-2011, 22:24
I've never tried a CDT SOBO.
MOstly I think because I don't see myself being able to wait that long to start.
I'm too anxious by April and have a hard time keeping it slow enough even then (to not get to CO too early)
Waiting till June or July to start a SOBO would be tough on my mental game.

Just my 2 cents.

11-16-2011, 01:48
"What was your start date and when did you hit the San Juans?"

I started June 12th from Chief Mountain, the Belly River route, and got to the decision point (Creede vs. North San Juan loop) on Sept 28th, and hiked on in to the town of Creede that day. My trail journal has all this stuff, http://www.postholer.com/brianle
Everyone is different, however; I'm 55 and was not a particularly fast thru-hiker on the CDT this year --- a number of SOBOs started after me and finished before me. I did, however, manage to avoid the worst of the CO snow which several SOBOs had to deal with, including my most-of-NM hiking partner, Lucky Joe (he has a trail journal, but did most of his journaling in effect on facebook, under Matthew 'Lucky Joe' Luotto).
While my "worst" day in Colorado doesn't compare to what he and some others went through, here's my summary of how bad it got there for me in the South San Juans: on Oct 4th (http://postholer.com/journal/viewJournal.php?sid=07360ee6f647ff5f97fc5dfd91b2b0 3e&entry_id=27314).