CDT section planner / overview map / rough schedule

CDT Section Planner, overview map, rough schedule

Imade this map of the CDT split into each section with basic info like how far it was in between towns, what I thought our daily mileage would be based on the terrain and estimated date we’d be getting to each place. We found it incredibly useful to visualise an overview of the route ahead and get a quick mental summary of the next state etc.

I hope that someone planning their future CDT hike will find this post and find the maps useful. I’ve made 2 new version for you to download (both zipped files contain a jpeg & pdf version):

  • First map – with blank labels for you to print out and write in your eta.
  • Second map – with the our actual daily mileages and dates that we walked the CDT to use as reference. (I’ve fudged a few figures to make it more consistent). I would say that our pace was fairly ‘average’ our target was 20 miles a day, which seems to be most peoples target.

For more more info on our hike, see our ‘proof that we actually did it’ site here »

Oh and of course the base map is courtesy of Monsieur Google (his terrain view is kick-ass).

The CDT in 20 pictures

Our CDT route

Some of you have already seen the video I shot of our 3000 mile hike across America, but while I was carrying the camcorder, Paul was carrying a digital camera. He’s been busy uploading them to his flickr, I don’t think he’s quite finished writing the titles yet, but i can’t resist re-posting some of them here. I’ve tried to choose an image that best describes each aspect of what made the CDT such an enjoyable and amazing experience.

1. Walking, walking and more walking


Well this was the main stay of our trip to say the least, on a usual day we’d start walking at 7am and stop walking at 7pm. In those 12 hours we’d normally cover about 20 miles.

2. Spectacular Scenery

Grand Teton Range

We saw some amazing sights along the CDT, but probably best of all was this view of Grand Teton from the top of Little’s Peak. This wasn’t actually on the CDT though, we made a rather substantial but ultimately worthwhile detour.

3. Climbing


Onwards and upwards! God knows how much we climbed in total actually I’ve just googled it: 124,269 meters, that’s 77.6 vertical miles of ascent!

4. Desending

Steep bit of downhill

What goes up must come down. In some ways this is the bit you look forward to least, gives you knees a real pounding.

5. Taking Breaks

Taking a quick break

You can’t walk all day and more importantly you need to keep refueling yourself (5,000 Calories a day!), here’s a run down of our daily breaks:

  • 6.30am – We’d have a snack bar before we set off
  • 9.00am – Breakfast, we usually had oatmeal, it’s like porridge but not quite as sticky, Apple & cinnamon was our flavour of choice
  • 11.00am – Snack bar and nuts for Elevenses
  • 1.00pm – Lunch, usually cheese & biscuits
  • 4.00pm – Nuts (we ate a lot of nuts)
  • 5.30pm – Energy crisis time, more hand-fulls of nuts to keep us going until 7pm and camp
  • 8.00pm ish – Evening meal, usually Ramen Noodles for starter, a dehydrated Knorr meal for main (Teriyaki noodles was our favourite) and some cocktails!

Generally I wouldn’t ever think about CDT as a whole, not even as a section or day, I would just be focused on one break at a time, watching the clock – only 30 min to go until lunch etc…

6. Camping


Not sure how many nights we spent under canvas, but I guesstimate it’s probably about 140. The old MSR Hubba Hubba did us proud and withstood some pretty stormy nights.

7. Mountains Tops

Top of Mount Elbert

The route itself doesn’t go over that many peaks, but a few detours saw us on top of some pretty special places. best of all was here on top of Mount Elbert 4,421m.

8. Crossing Water

Crossing a River

Compared to European hiking, there’s very few bridges along the CDT. We were constantly getting our feet wet, for which we found our Crocs indispensable. This image is me crossing the fastest, deepest and widest body of water we had to tackle. It was more like a bloody estuary feeding Twin Lakes, should of taken the long way round in retrospect…

9. Taking a Wash

Taking a swim in Green Lake

We could only have a shower/bath once a week when we headed into town to buy some more food. Luckily there was plenty of opportunities en-route for a quick rinse, most beautiful of all was here at Green Lakes.

10. Filtering Water

Filtering water from a old tractor tire

Most of the time the water was crystal clear and went straight from the stream into out bellies. But in New Mexico and the Great Divide Basin the quality and frequency was pretty dire, so my water pumping muscles got a bit of a daily workout. Here’s Paul filtering water out of a old tire surrounded by cow shit as far as you can see in each direction. We never got ill though, cast iron stomachs :)

11. Desert

Desert Walking

I‘m used to walking in mountains, desert hiking was a new experience for me. Interesting enough in it’s huge barren nothingness, but probably the best thing about it was you could notch up 30 miles a day easy and get out of there fast.

12. Snow

Snowy San Juan Mountains

Shit loads of snow, more snow than I was expecting, most of the towns we past through had record breaking snow falls the previous winter. But I like the snow so loved it, the San Juan Mountains section was by far and away the most ‘snowy’, we could only average about 15 miles a day in those conditions.

13. Booze

Instant Margarita Mix

Itook us a while to get into on trail boozing, we needed to get a bit of a base layer of fitness before carrying the extra weight. But by Northern New Mexico we were ready, the drink of choice was Margarita made from powered lemon & lime drink mix, Tequila, water and some of the abundant snow and ice all around us. Halfway through we switched to Rum (cheaper from the liquor store) mixed with various fruity flavours of Crystal Light.

14. Steak

Steak on the grill

One of our rules of walking was that when we got to town the first evening meal had to be the biggest steak they had on the menu followed by apple pie. We couldn’t always get an apple pie, but we never failed to get steak :) Our biggest was 36oz from Burkes Chop house in Jackson Hole. Our best was from the Backstreet Steak house in Grand Lake. Our most unexpected was donated by a rancher we met in the middle of nowhere and fried up on our stove. And our most deserved was in Waterton when we’d just finished the CDT, we managed to convince the chef at the Kilmorey Lodge the cook us up a steak twice as big as the biggest ones he had on his menu!

15. Campfires

when you really need a campfire

Iknow a lot of folk don’t agree with having campfires, but I love them, nothing raises the spirits like making a fire and they just smell so good :) We didn’t have them every night by any means, but on a cold wet evening like above they were indispensable.

16. Sunrise & Sunsets

Sunrise in the Tetons

Spending 6 month living outside you get to see some pretty amazing sunrises and sunsets. My favourite was here on Little’s Peak in The Grand Teton National park, never seen a sunrise last so long, the sky was red for half an hour or more.

17. Fellow CDTers

Boston & Cubby

There was 11 north-bounders hiking the CDT in 2008 (as far as we knew). They were: Boston & Cubby, Joe (Red Beard), Heesoo (Impulse) Strix & Sharpshin, Bart, Pinball Wizard, Sunset and Sicily B. It was a pleasure hiking with all of you :)

18. Hiking Buddies

Nicky, dad and Giles

My girlfriend Nicky came out and hiked a bit of Colorado with us for a couple of weeks. It was her first time backpacking and at altitudes up to 4,000m! She did really well :) Then in August my dad and brother came out to coincide with our detour through The Grand Teton National Park.

19. Folk who helped us out

Folk who helped us out along the way

The random acts of human kindness were experienced were probably the most unexpected and cherished aspect of the CDT. The guys in the bottom right drove 30 miles down dirt roads to go fetch us a crate of beer we so desperately needed. The lady in the top left let us stay at her house free of charge for 2 days. The trucker in the top right drove us 50 miles to Salmon in his truck. We were bought beers in bars, handed out beers from the back of pick-ups and ATV’s (everyone drives around with a supply of cold beer!). We were even given a bit of weed on a couple of occasions ;) the list goes on and on, thank you all.

20. Great Friendship

Great friendship

Well finally, I think probably the most amazing thing about our CDT experience was that we managed to stay friends! Six months of barely leaving each others sight, we slept next to each other every night and for 99% of the time there was nobody else to talk to. I think it’s a rare thing (not sure if I could do that with my girlfriend!), it’s definetly made us much closer friends.

20 Photos not enough? Then check out all of Paul’s photos on Flickr, or view all the blog posts we made en-route.

Lost 35 pounds, raised £2,019.99

A big thankyou to everyone who has sponsored us :) So far we have raised a whopping £2,019.99 for The Cystic Fibrosis Trust, I am sure there will be more to come now that we have made it to the end. Remember you can sponsor us online here.

Well in the process of raising all those pounds, we have lost quite a few ourselves! Here is our before and after shots so that you can laugh at how much we have changed!

Simon Cook

Originally I was 185 pounds, cleanly shaved and sported a fine moustache. Now I am 150 pounds, and a bit of a beardy weirdy. (The lady who drove us to Lethbridge said when she first saw me, she thought I was a crystal meth addict) Think I need to put a bit of that weight back on… Also my hair has changed colour quite a lot since I have been away, my eye brows have almost gone white!

Paul at the start

Originally he was 168 pounds, cleanly shaved and going a bit bald on top. Now he is exactly the same as me, 150 pounds and also a bit of a beardy weirdy and still a bit bald up top. Although I think he has clearly won the beard growing competition with that big bush on his chin.

“I will be a bit sad to see the beard go as it has kept me warm the last month or so but my girlfriend Claire has already started the bribery proceedings and it will be getting shaved off when I meet her in Calgery in a few days.

All in all the trip has been a fantastic experience and one that will not be beaten for a very long time. Its been an opportunity to have a real adventure and we will be boring family and friends for years to come with stories and anecdotes of the trip.

I would also like to thank everyone that has sponsored us so far for their suport and generosity but there are still a lot of our friends who we will be chasing when we see them next. You know who you are….” Paul

Canada and Beyond

Well we made it to Waterton in good time and started celebrating hard – drank all the beer in the liquor store! The place is closing down for winter so there wasn’t that much left ;) Managed to convince the chef at the Kilmorey Lodge the cook us up each a steak twice as big as the biggest ones on his menu. It was a 20oz brick and definetly in our top 3 steaks on the trail :) We felt a bit like minor celebrities, everyone in the resturant gave us a standing ovation and were asking us questions all night. The waitress even agreed to drive us an hour and a half across Canada the following morning to get to Lethbridge (where we are now) so we could hire a car (nearest place).

Whats next. Well we have about a week to kill before I fly back to England and Paul’s girlfriend Claire flys out here for a little holiday. So were just going to hire a car, fill it with booze and beef, drive around and find a nice campsite, make a bif fire and get drunk! If anything amusing happens I will let you know.

We’ve made it to Canada!

At last we’ve made it to Canada and the end of our trail. It’s taken us 162 days to get here and 3000 odd miles. We’ve now just got about 4 more miles to do to get to Waterton town, where we can get as pissed as lords to celebrate :)

Waterton Lake

Almost there! The border of Canada is halfway down this lake, and beer is at the end of it, it’s a long lake though…

Leaving camp for the last time

It was quite apt that our last night on the trail was also our coldest. Didn’t get much sleep, but don’t care as this is our last day and the finnishing line is in sight. We’ve got no food left and are we’re wearing just about all our clothes, so our rucksacks feel light as a feather, we’re going to fly down the mountain to Canada :)

Hot Grapefruit Rum

We decided to warm it up tonight – it’s absolutely freezing here and we’re not allowed to have a fire at this campsite.