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On The Continental Divide Trail

 

A few months ago I was contacted by an ad agency who had been hired to put together a film for Wyoming Tourism.

They wanted to tell the story of a group of women from all over the United States coming together to hike a section of the Continental Divide Trail in Wyoming’s Sierra Madre Mountain Range. The producer had stumbled upon Hike Like A Woman, discovered that I live in Wyoming and reached out to see if I’d be interested in leading a group of women from our Ambassador team on a short backpacking trip along a section of the CDT.

Naturally, I said yes.

This post won’t be a full recap of the trip, that will come next summer in a sponsored blog post in conjunction with the release of the film.

But I do want to talk about the trip while the memory of it is still fresh in my mind and share a podcast episode that was recorded on the trail and driving from the trail with you.

I also want to mention some of our recommended gear, food, logistics and our route because this route is perfect for beginners or those from out of state who might not be acclimated but want to spend a few days on the CDT.


The Route

To plan this trip I used the third edition of Marc Smith’s book, Hiking Wyoming’s Medicine Bow National Forest and the CDT Wyoming app on my iPad.

We also used a plain old topo map too.

I enjoyed using Smith’s book in conjunction with the app so I could look at the imagery from the trail while reading the trail description.

Our original trip was going to be 3 days/2 nights from the Pipeline Trailhead to Battle Pass, a 15-mile section through the Huston Peak Wilderness.

That route got changed about 8 days before the trip and instead, we hiked about a 12-mile section of the trail from Battle Pass to Deep Jack Trailhead.

While the sudden change in route caused a little bit of scrambling it actually turned out to be a great route to show the diversity of the trail as we climbed up out of a forest to the summit of Bridger Peak (at 11,004 feet) and then climbed back down through a beautiful forest of lodgepole pine’s to the Deep Jack Trailhead.

This route offered epic vistas, lots of sunshine and shade in the forest and snow melt even in mid-July for drinking water.

When our film is published you’ll probably notice that we actually did a lot of shooting on a summit just on the other side of Bridger Peak where views are uninhibited by radio towers.

But the route wasn’t perfect.

My biggest complaint is that it often intersects an old road and there’s just something about people zipping by on ATVs when you’ve earned every single mile on your boots.

But, I turned this into a positive knowing that I was out with an unacclimated team and if there was a medical emergency search and rescue could hop on an ATV and help us out in a jiffy.

We also had cell service near Bridger Peak…it was ironic because we were trying to unplug -but- still decided to hop on the interweb for a Facebook live video 😉


The Team

We had an interesting and fun mix of people in our group. Gretchen, Michelle, Elisa, and Stephanie joined me from our #TeamHLAW and my awesome friend Brittany joined the crew as our medic and co-guide.

Britt’s medical skills were invaluable along the way as she patched up members of the team and was super zen during times that were stressful.

We love you, Britt!

We were accompanied by 2 videographers, a producer, a writer and another woman who came along to help the film crew with gear and equipment.

Hiking with a film crew, a producer, a writer and being involved in this type of project was completely new for us.

It was fun to learn and a new opportunity.

But it did take us a bit to open to up to the crew. Once we got used to the cameras we had a blast…the last shoot of our hike was especially memorable.

We had been hiking this same back-and-forth area for a bit when Gretchen pulled out a bunch of fake mustaches that she had stashed in a plastic banana that was hanging off of her pack (that’s a story for another day).

We quickly put mustaches above our lips and then when the crew told us to turn around and walk toward them we did, with our new ‘stashes.

Hilarity ensued as we really got to work it for the camera.

This picture simply doesn’t do the situation justice.

Never underestimate the value of a fake mustache.


The Gear

Coming together was really awesome because we all got to check out each other’s…gear!

Michelle has a neat little 1-woman tent from Teton Sports and sweet cook set up from Sea to Summit.

Stephanie has all the good stuff…because she backpacks…I mean hikes into places with lots of fish…every single weekend with her husband and kiddo.

Gretchen was our novice backpacker so she was decked out in a lot of new gear.

Elisa’s husband had just climbed Mt. Whitney a few days before she left so she had done a quick gear swap with him.

Gear Wins!

Deuter was awesome enough to hook us each up with a Deuter ACT Light 45 + 10L pack to test. We’ll publish a full review of these packs later. Our overall assessment is that this is a great budget-friendly pack for a woman who doesn’t have a long torso.

The MSR Pocket Rocket was a clear winner in cooking systems, the Teton Sports tarp made a fantastic sled.

Yes, sled.

The Garmin inReach gave me peace of mind as I messaged back and forth with my husband about a potential evacuation during an unexpected medical situation.

The Big Agnes Tumble 2 mtnGLO Tent is not to be overlooked for its radness when it comes to diving into a good book at night.

Black Diamond trekking poles came in super handy when we were tired or on rocky and uneven terrain. I heart you BD.


The Food & Whiskey

Food is crucial not just for energy and nutrition but for morale! So, we splurged on all the good stuff for the trip

Backpackers Bistro was kind enough to give us several meals at a discounted rate to test.

We’ll review them all more in depth but the Risotto was amazing.

Cooking rice at altitude can often be tricky so we do recommend the rice dishes at lower elevations but appreciated the single sized serving portions.

Other clear food winners were lemon-ginger tea (to help our low elevation hikers with nausea at altitude), Krave jerky, Kind fruit and nut bars, lemon-zest Luna bars, and Clif shot bloks for a quick dose of energy and electrolytes during filming.

Since we were in Wyoming we did have to splurge and occasionally passed around a flask of Koltiska Original. When in Wyoming drink Wyoming made booze! We aren’t fans of heavy drinking in the backcountry but we do believe in a few sips of whiskey, we had one small flask and there were 11 of us on this trip.

When we got off the trail we had left a cooler with ice cold beverages and sandwich fixin’s which was perfect, since it would have been a long wait for the shuttle vehicles, had we not sent a few drivers to retrieve vehicles ahead of time as we stopped to film.


Clothing

We all wore typical standard hiking clothing, so nothing too fancy there.

CloudLine gave each woman 2 pairs of hiking socks for the trip.

Once again, another review coming soon but the group found these socks cushy, soft and comfortable but the medium cushion was a little hot and sweaty for some feet on the trail.

Other winners were REI women’s Sahara pants, both Elisa and Michelle wore them, Kuhl Kliffside Air Cargo pants (my personal favorite), any Buff-type thing to keep hair back and mosquitos away and a wide variety of boots from Vasque, Salomon, Asolo & Keen.

You’ll see a lot of shots of our boots in the film 🙂


Other Recommended Southeastern Wyoming Hikes

I think that we all left the trip loving Wyoming but wanting more.

For me, it was a chance to explore in a local place that I don’t typically explore.

The rest of the Wyoming section of the CDT is next on my list.

There are gorgeous hikes between Laramie and Encampment or Saratoga so definitely check that out the Snowy Range if you’re ever in Wyoming and give me a “holler” when you’re in my neck of the woods.

 

(Note: This post was originally published on Hike Like A Woman)

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