Saturday, July 19, 2014

Day 40: Highway 287 to A&M Reservoir

After a brief stint on the highway, we spotted the junction where the CDT took off into the Great Divide Basin. Only problem?  A barbed wire fence separated us from the trail.  There was no gate. We hefted our packs up and over the fence, then rolled underneath the bottom wire. 

The Continental Divide separates the western half of the North American continent from the eastern half. Water flows west from the Divide toward the Pacific Ocean. Water flows east from the Divide toward the Atlantic Ocean. The Continental Divide generally follows the ridges and mountains as it winds its way north. But the vast high desert no man's land of the Great Divide Basin is also part of the Continental Divide. West of the Basin, water flows to the Pacific. East of the Basin, water flows to the Atlantic. What little water falls into the Basin never leaves it. 

The temperature slowly rose all morning. After more than ten miles of hiking, we had yet to see a single tree. We sheltered behind a rock outcropping for lunch, hiding from the relentless wind. But there was no escape from the heat. 

We saw several antelope in the morning, but after we descended into the Basin we saw more bones than living animals. Some cattle munched on the Basin's meager fare, and a few wild horses roamed the hills. Horned toads scuttled across the trail in front of us. An angry bull pawed the ground and blocked the road, forcing us to scamper underneath a barbed wire fence to pass by. 

We dreamed of cold drinks and then, miraculously, they appeared.  A silver truck appeared in the distance. Jeff. Jeff met us several more times with cold drinks, then met us at the A & M Reservoir, a welcome camp after a 30 mile day. 


  1. Do you slack pack on days like these? or full packs in case you don't make the miles or find each other?

  2. We always carry packs with the essentials, but really pare down what's inside when we are planning to meet and camp together that night. As you point out, not finding each other is a real possibility on the CDT. The trail is not well marked, and the road crossings often aren't marked at all, making them very difficult for someone in a vehicle to find.