Highway Camping

by Gillian Larson | posted: June 6, 2018
Shyla on the trail

Today I rode Shyla again, heading south to where the CDT crosses Hwy. 84; my mom was going to meet me at one of the camping sites right along the highway that we had identified on our drive up on Monday. One of the advantages of having help like this is that I can trade off riding the horses, giving them rest days even when I don’t get one! It will allow me to cover more miles more quickly, which is a real challenge with thru-rides on trails like the CDT, where there is only a brief window of opportunity to complete the trail before the winter closes in again.

campsite along Hwy. 84

The CDT is particularly difficult since so much of it is at such a high elevation, especially in Colorado; by the time the snow melts sufficiently to make it possible to travel in Colorado, there might not be enough time to get to Canada before the snow starts again up north. That has been why I strategically “flip-flop” along the PCT on my other rides; I have to cover trail that is snow-free while I can, and let other sections melt (which I then come back to ride later) so that I can ride the whole trail. I have not found any record of anyone else riding the entire CDT in a single season before, and I think that difficulty with the snow is the reason why. I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to do it either, but I got lucky and there was a very low snow year in southern Colorado this year. I was planning to flip-flop here as well, maybe riding in Wyoming first, but the low snow has allowed me to travel without doing that. I still had to do my leapfrog technique when I was on my own earlier in New Mexico (driving north, then riding southbound between the two rigs), but I was still connecting the trail sections in an unbroken line and working my way north to Colorado. Now that my mother is with me, we are still continuing the same pattern for a while, since we will have the two rigs to move for a while, until my mother takes a week off and drives one of them north to my grandparents’ house in Idaho, where it will stay until I need it again in Montana at the end of August, when my mother returns to teaching again. But soon I will get to ride northbound, and that will be a nice change. It is always confusing to people to explain what I am doing . . . yes, I am going to Canada, even though I am riding the wrong way--but don’t worry, I will get there!


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