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  1. #1
    Registered User Sonno's Avatar
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    Question CDT Flip-Flop Weather Questions

    Hello all!

    I'm doing some preliminary research and planning and I need a little help from you CDT Vets.

    I'm thinking of doing a flip-flop starting near Denver, CO and heading Sobo from February to March, and then heading up to Glacier NP and head Sobo back down to Denver from July to August. Yes, I know it's a super fast pace and there are probably better times and ways to do it. That said...

    I have 3 main questions...

    1) Am I correct in assuming Denver, CO has the closest major International Airport to the half-way point of the CDT?
    2) What is the weather like from Denver south during Feb and March?
    3) What is the weather like from Glacier to Denver during July and August?

    Don't ask why I'm planning on doing it this way, I just really need the info.

    TIA for any info you can throw my way!
    NoBo 2015

  2. #2
    Peakbagger Extraordinaire The Solemates's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonno View Post
    2) What is the weather like from Denver south during Feb and March?
    really? not very hikeable that is for sure. you'll be skiing instead. major snow lingers in CO until June (or later)
    The only thing better than mountains, is mountains where you haven't been.

    amongnature.blogspot.com

  3. #3
    Registered User Sonno's Avatar
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    How far south do I have to go to not have snow in February? (Or at least snow that's "doable"?)
    NoBo 2015

  4. #4

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    I visited Florida once in February. It showed people all bundled up in their giant down jackets in the chilly 55 degree nighttime temperatures. Brrr. Even from Santa Barbara I had to laugh at that. February in the mountain and desert west is not like that.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  5. #5

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    Southern NM (south of Grants) is the only place that is likely to be snow free before May. Most of the CDT is above 7000'. Colorado is entirely above 9000'. Check the elevations in the Jim Wolf books - anything above 7500' will have snow into June.

    If you only have two months to hike (I assume student?) then just plan to section hike the trail. Do Montana this year. Wyoming and Colorado another year. New Mexico during spring and winter breaks.

  6. #6
    Getting out as much as I can..which is never enough. :) Mags's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sonno View Post

    I'm thinking of doing a flip-flop starting near Denver, CO and heading Sobo from February to March, an
    Near the Continental Divide (Jones Pass area) about two weeks ago in Colorado:




    Bring sksi!
    Paul "Mags" Magnanti
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    The true harvest of my life is intangible...a little stardust caught,a portion of the rainbow I have clutched -Thoreau

  7. #7
    Registered User Sonno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Walker View Post
    Southern NM (south of Grants) is the only place that is likely to be snow free before May. Most of the CDT is above 7000'. Colorado is entirely above 9000'. Check the elevations in the Jim Wolf books - anything above 7500' will have snow into June.
    Thank you!
    NoBo 2015

  8. #8
    Registered User Sonno's Avatar
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    Anyone have an answer for Q3?
    NoBo 2015

  9. #9

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    Summer weather is generally good. It can be very changeable, with big thunderstorms, hail and rain mixed with sunshine and snowshowers. You might have heat (i.e. temps in the 90's) or cool weather. Because of the elevation, it is possible to have snow any month of the year, though probably not much in mid-summer. We had snow July 4th in Montana - but only flurries. Our waterbottles froze at night in the Winds in August. Hiking across the Great Basin in southern Wyoming the temps can go up into the 100s. We had 60s or so only a week after friends hiked in 110 degrees. Colorado thunderstorms are notorious, but you might luck out as we did and get few big storms or get unlucky and have them every single day.

  10. #10
    Registered User Sonno's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Spirit Walker View Post
    Summer weather is generally good. It can be very changeable, with big thunderstorms, hail and rain mixed with sunshine and snowshowers. You might have heat (i.e. temps in the 90's) or cool weather. Because of the elevation, it is possible to have snow any month of the year, though probably not much in mid-summer. We had snow July 4th in Montana - but only flurries. Our waterbottles froze at night in the Winds in August. Hiking across the Great Basin in southern Wyoming the temps can go up into the 100s. We had 60s or so only a week after friends hiked in 110 degrees. Colorado thunderstorms are notorious, but you might luck out as we did and get few big storms or get unlucky and have them every single day.
    Thanks a bunch!


    I'm trying to figure out how to do both the CDT and PCT between the beginning of Feb and the end of Aug... because that's all the time I have to do them. I'm an extremely quick hiker and 30+M/D are pretty much the norm. I'd like to keep the journey as continuous as possible making one big loop out of it. Just trying to figure out the best place to start on that loop and when. So far it's looking like Grants, NM just west of Albuquerque (and Albuquerque has an International Airport to get in and out) is going to be it like you suggested.

    Still have a lot of time to research though so we'll see.
    NoBo 2015

  11. #11

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    You do realize that you'll run into the same problem on the PCT don't you.? Although you can hike most of the desert sections in spring, after mile 650 or so (Walker Pass) the trail will be snow-covered until June. And parts of the southern California trail will be impassible (e.g. Baden Powell and the mountains above Idyllwild.) So you'll be able to hike only about 1000 mostly snow-free miles between Feb. and June. After that you'll be in constant snow until summer arrives. Do you plan to ski or snowshoe?

    There's a reason most people don't start either trail until mid or late April.

  12. #12
    Melt-N-Metal GeneralLee10's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mags View Post
    Near the Continental Divide (Jones Pass area) about two weeks ago in Colorado:




    Bring sksi!

    That's a very nice picture. I know you get that a ton, had to say it though.
    I don't know

  13. #13

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    Why do you want to do both hikes in such a short time? From all the journals I've been reading about the CDT, the CDT is about letting go of that whole mileage thing and just being in the now.

    If you really want an awesome winter experience, one that maybe only one person has done, one that requires map-and-compass skills at least as good as the CDT, one that has only one resupply location on the trail, one that will make a 15 mile day feel like a 30 mile day, one with a little snow but not so much you can't get through, try the proposed Condor Trail.
    Some knew me as Piper, others as just Diane.
    I hiked the PCT: Mexico to Mt. Shasta, 2008. Santa Barbara to Canada, 2009.

  14. #14

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    I attempted about the same thing in 2002.
    Started at Antelope Wells, (Feb 14) went to Cumbres pass, then jumped over to the PCT (one month later) and hiked up to Kennedy Meadows around April 19th I believe.
    We then found out that there was an aprox 500 mile section before the next road or possible resupply point at Carson pass.
    So, we went back to the CDT and continued NOBO from Cumbres.
    Lots and lots of snow and we got hammered with 3 more major storms the end of april into May.
    We got through it all but used snowshoes, skis and had a support vehicle through it all.
    we ended up doing so much jumping around to try to find a place to hike that wouldn't involve 10' snowdrifts and slow going that we got quite frustrated.
    You can read all our journal entries here: http://triplecrownoneyear.tripod.com/index.htm

    Good luck, you are going to need a very low snow year in both CO And southern CA IMO to have success and finish by August.
    2 months later start is do-able. (IMO)
    Don't let your fears stand in the way of your dreams

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