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  1. #1
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    Default Snowpack in late may? Campons much?

    Hey CT'ers!

    I'm thinking about trying to thru-hike the CT as warm-up for a fast hike on the PCT next summer, but I would have to do it starting in the third week of May. What's the word on the snow levels up there around then? Is it anything that some lightweight crampons couldn't deal with?

    Thanks for any info.

  2. #2
    Kilted Thru-Hiker AT'04, PCT'06, CDT'07 Haiku's Avatar
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    I don't live in the area so I can't give you exact information on conditions, but I can tell you I found snow in the Colorado mountains along the CT/CDT in July. I'd guess that May is way too early. I'll let Mags ring in here, though, since he'd be far more knowledgeable than I am.

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  3. #3

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    I hiked the CT starting in June back in 2001.
    Lots of snow.
    I never needed crampons though. Just did it in my running shoes and hiked in lots of snow.
    Good fun. i like making first tracks. (when you're the first one up for the year, the elk don't know what you are exactly and are very inquisitive at that time )
    Enjoy!
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    Registered User Egads's Avatar
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    I took crampons & an ice axe on a June hike in Glacier NP. I was glad to have the ice axe. Only used the crampons on 1 pass though. So, I believe the ice axe is a more valuable tool. Went to Olympic NP in July the prior year and the rangers would not let you hike the high trails without an ice axe.

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  5. #5
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    Mags works the noon-to-nine shift, so you'll have to wait a few hours for his wisdom and wit.

    In an average snow year here in CO, a May thru hike would be quite a feat. Ice won't be as much of a problem as postholing and route finding. Snowshoes are heavy. The Onion and Mr Magoo essentially did it on their '07 CDT yo-yos, and they had some real experiences.

    In my opinion, a better warmup for the PCT would be the New Mexico section of the CDT. May is good time to be there--less wind, more water. The Wolf route takes you through some impressive places. If you need desert experience, you can't beat it. There may be a little snow in the Mimbres Mts and San Pedro Pks, and the Gila River can be a real challenge.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  6. #6
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by garlic08 View Post
    Mags works the noon-to-nine shift, so you'll have to wait a few hours for his wisdom and wit.
    Very debatable....



    I think Garlic nailed it. A hike of the CDT/CT in May is DO-ABLE. But, not overly fun. Then there is the joy of Spring avalanches if a freak snow storm hits in May (old snow with new snow? Lotsa fun! http://avalanche.state.co.us/Forecasts/Vail+Summit+Co/)


    If you are looking for a prep-hike of the PCT, it is better to do S. New Mexico (again, just as Garlic said).

    Late June vs. Late May is a different ball of wax as well...
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  7. #7
    Registered User tom_alan's Avatar
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    I remember one year that A-Basin Ski Area opened in late August and the next year, on the Fourth Of July, My brother went Skiing at A-Basin. They did it so they could say they were open every month of the year. However, my brother said that in the early morning on the Fourth the skiing wasn't bad but it was slush by noon.

    All I got to say is IAD (It all depends). Last year we had a lot of snow fall in the mountains to a point that there was talk of flooding due to the snow melt and IMO last year would not have been a good year to start in May. However, the two previous years we had lower than normal snow fall. You just got to look at the weather.

    I also have to agree with Mags "Then there is the joy of Spring avalanches if a freak snow storm hits in May."
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  8. #8
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    Guys,

    Thanks for all the good advice. I don't think I can really be assed to slog through huge amounts of snow - I have more than enough experience with alpine backpacking, and as Garlic pointed out, it would be very valuable to have some desert miles stashed away before hitting the PCT.

    So, I guess I'm looking for a ~2 week section in the NM piece of the CDT? Any recommendations?

    Thanks yall.

  9. #9
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clured View Post

    So, I guess I'm looking for a ~2 week section in the NM piece of the CDT? Any recommendations?

    Thanks yall.

    Ghost Ranch to Grants was very nice. The mesa walking along the new single track tread was among the highlights of the CDT for me. Red rock canyon country. In the Ghost Ranch area is where Georgia O' Keefe painted. Just before you get into Grants, you'll climb to the top of Mt. Taylor (11k+) and see the desert you juts hiked. Pretty cool! The whole stretch is fairly well marked portion of trail, too (by CDT standards! ) . It is a total of ~260 miles. About right for a two week hike at a good pace. You can do an easy in and out (no hitching!) resupply in Cuba, NM during this stretch.

    BONUS: Easy bus service (Greyhound) out of Grants. From there you can get to Albuquerque and from there, anywhere. Naturally, you can reverse this route, too. Start at Grants and end at Ghost Ranch.


    Photos: http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.ph...2_itemId=14373
    (pp 1 - 3 has the trail area)
    Last edited by Mags; 11-12-2008 at 16:21.
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    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    we did elbert in june this year and postholed up past our knees in some areas. you'll probably be fine without snowshoes, but I'd bring the axe. i'd also consider wearing heavier boots than my typicaly trail runners, but then again you'll probably be fine in runners too
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  11. #11
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by The Solemates View Post
    we did elbert in june this year and postholed up past our knees in some areas. you'll probably be fine without snowshoes, but I'd bring the axe. i'd also consider wearing heavier boots than my typicaly trail runners, but then again you'll probably be fine in runners too
    June and May are two different environments I am afraid.

    In May, I'd be concerned about (possible) Spring avalanche conditions.

    Also, hiking a 14er is a different ball of wax than (attempting) to hike 20 MPD+ with a full pack on unused trails through snow. Elbert is a non-technical walkup that gets a fair amount of use all year.

    I think Clured is making a wise decision to hike N Mex instead.
    Last edited by Mags; 11-12-2008 at 18:34.
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  12. #12
    Garlic
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Just before you get into Grants, you'll climb to the top of Mt. Taylor (11k+) and see the desert you juts hiked.
    That's a good section. And if Taylor is snowed in, there is a road walk option around.

    Try not to leave a car in Grants, there is a vandalism problem there. Ghost Ranch is great, it's private but they're very hiker friendly.
    "Throw a loaf of bread and a pound of tea in an old sack and jump over the back fence." John Muir on expedition planning

  13. #13
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    Mags,

    The piece you talk about sounds like just the ticket - I'm mainly looking for enough trail to get through the initial knee tear-down/recovery before doing any really big-mile days in SoCal. I also think the experience with water management in the desert it key; my body is especially sensitive to hydration issues, and I'd like to know how much water I need per mile in really hot conditions, etc.

    This is a newbie CDT question - there's not, like, a mileage index, right? Or do I even need mileage data? It's only ~250 miles; could I just get by with the maps, and maybe some printed-out water info? Where do you get maps?

    Thanks for all the help - this "Other Trails" section is the best part of WB; just hikers talking about hiking.

    -Dave

  14. #14

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    It's a good section, but won't help a lot in figuring out water management because northern NM isn't nearly as hot as southern California. You'll be at higher elevation in the northern stretch so it will be much cooler. However, it will give you a chance to break in your body in some very interesting country.

  15. #15
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by clured View Post

    This is a newbie CDT question - there's not, like, a mileage index, right? Or do I even need mileage data? It's only ~250 miles; could I just get by with the maps, and maybe some printed-out water info? Where do you get maps?

    The Owens' site has some good info to start (Hi Spiritwalker! ) esp for a shortish section hike:

    http://spiriteaglehome.com/cdt.html

    Their town info has mileage.

    As with all CDT mesaurements, it is APPROXIMATE. The "trail" changes depending upon what you want to do, where it was routed this year, etc.

    The Wolf books http://www.cdtsociety.org/ has the best guidebooks IMO. They have more precise mileage (e.g. somewhat like the AT databook) for HIS route.


    As for maps, I strongly suggest the maps found on the CD at www.phlumf.com Almost all CDT hikers use his maps.

    For a general CDT overview, I have a doc posted as well that may be helpful.
    http://www.pmags.com/joomla/index.ph...s/cdt_doc.html

    As Ginny said, this section won't help with water management per se, but is beautiful. Also logistically easier than other sections.
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  16. #16

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    I was just in Telluride and the snow pack extended down to 9,000 feet in some locations.


  17. #17

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    Gila is another possibility although the logistics of getting to and from the trail won't be as easy.
    It's further south, thus a bit hotter.
    has some snow travel that time of year.
    also lots of fords (depending on what route you take)
    hot springs too.
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

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