Friday 20 March 2015

2015 hikes

My 2015 hikes have been planned for a while but I’ve just never got around to updating the blog, sorry! This should be a great year and because it has been almost 7 months since my last trip I’m starting off with a nice easy warmup hike along the Scottish National Trail (SNT). That will be followed, almost immediately, by my main hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). After such a long time off the trail I can’t wait to get started! 

The SNT is a relatively new 864km trail that opened in 2012. It was devised by ex-TGO editor Cameron McNeish and links together existing smaller trails. It starts where the Pennine Way finishes in the Scottish Borders, at Kirk Yethholm, and winds its way slowly up to the northern tip of West Scotland at Cape Wrath. If you are interested in the route then I recommend reading walkhighlands comprehensive guide to the trail. A lot of this trail, particularly the southern half, isn't particularly challenging but as a warmup hike for the CDT it looks ideal. I’ve also wanted to hike the tougher northern section, along the Cape Wrath Trail, for some time so this is an ideal opportunity to do that. The Cape Wrath Trail is described as Britain's toughest trail, though I find that very hard to believe and would consider the Scottish Watershed to be much more challenging. I will start the SNT on the 24th April and expect to finish around 22nd May, for those of you out on the TGO Challenge this year I may bump into you when I head west from the Cairngorms. Say hello!

The CDT is my 2nd of the big 3 USA hikes and is generally classed as the most challenging, at around 5000km it’s also my longest hike to date. It starts at the Canadian border, in Montana, and heads south through Wyoming, Colorado and finishes at the Mexico border in New Mexico. I’ve taken the slightly unusual decision to hike south because I didn't like the overcrowded trails I experienced early on during my previous USA hike, the PCT. The CDT is always much quieter than the PCT but it is getting more popular and with the majority of hikers going north, and starting within a week or 2 of each other, it has the potential to be busier than I would like. There is also a push to make the CDT more accessible and this years northbound hikers have the luxury of a shuttle service to the start, water caches in the drier sections, and for the first time a kickoff party. I won’t have these luxuries and to be honest I’m all the happier for that. It’s not advisable to start a southbound hike until around mid June because of late snows in Glacier National Park, so I don't expect to finish until early November. I still need to obtain permits for Glacier but all being well I will set off on 16th June. 

Now I just need to get training and that starts tomorrow :-)