By Jörgen Johansson
|San Juan Mountains, Colorado|
I learned that Brian had done some long hikes, including the AT. A description of how he started out as a regular backpacker and ended up a ligthweight one can be found here (in Swedish). He also had used a hammock for part of this trip and I was curious about the pros and cons of that.
Since 2007 Brian, who is an accountant, has been spending six months each year summing up dollars for clients and six months adding miles to his personal bottom line. We wrote some articles on his yo-yo of the AT, which you will find here. His 3 for 3 for that trip was an astounding 850 grams. That is also where he met his girlfriend Liz, with whom he has since been thru-hiking.
Jörgen: Brian, could you give a short description of yourself as a hiker.
Brian: I completed the triple crown (AT, PCT, CDT) with my girlfriend Liz in 2008, 2009, and 2010. I also yo-yoed the AT in 180 days and completed the Long Trail. And I've done a lot of ultralight winter trips in the Whites of New Hampshire with Jim Bailey, whom I met in our 2007 Backpacking Light WT3 course. I plan on doing a fast AT southbound hike come August 2011 and would like to attempt to yo-yo the PCT and CDT some year.
Jörgen: Could you give us a brief description of what the CDT is?
Brian: The CDT was designated a national scenic trail in 1978 and runs about 3,000 miles from Canada to Mexico along the Rockies through Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, and New Mexico. It sticks closely to the divide for the most part, hitting 3 national parks and 25 national forests.
Having said all that, at its best the CDT was absolutely beautiful and full of wildlife, the likes of which the AT and PCT can't even compare. It was physically easier than the AT and much tougher than the PCT, and was by far the most remote and wild one of the triple crown.
Jörgen: Could you give us a quick overview of the gear you brought; base weight and such? Was there some gear you brought that was new to you on a long hike like this? Some gear that performed better than expected? Some that did not?
Brian: I weighed my gear after the hike and was surprised to find my base weight was just under 12 lbs. This is much higher than I'd planned on carrying, although it does include group gear.
Jörgen: If you compare the gear you brought to the gear you used on the AT and on the PCT, describe your thinking. If you should do the CDT next year again, what would you do differently, gear wise and hike wise?
Brian: Well, the CDT has longer stretches (100 miles on average, and up to 160) between resupply, so a larger pack volume is one obstacle. The other main obstacle of the CDT is that it takes the altitude and exposure of the PCT and combines it with the wetness of the AT. That, and the legendary mosquito season, made Liz want a tent and stove, which I reluctantly agreed to.
But perhaps the most important thing I learned with regard to gear on the CDT is that bear bagging is simply not a fun way to spend an evening after hiking all day. Many hikers sleep with their food in grizzly country, and while I would do this even while stealthing in the Sierras, I do not want to take unneccessary risks in grizzly country. So, I would bring an Ursack next time, which is improving with each new model.
Jörgen: Thank you, Brian.
To make the picture more complete I can recommend reading the trail journal of Snorkel and her hike with Frogs (a k a Liz and Brian). Liz has also written an interesting piece on women and thru-hiking that you find here.