May 18, 2022

Tips for Hiking the Continental Divide Trail, or CDT

Millions of people have canceled travel plans in 2021 as Covid-19 halted international travel around the world.

Renee Miller and Tim Beissinger were not among them.

Both men are “thru-hikers,” a term that describes a style of hiking that begins and ends at different places, while often covering long distances.

Rather than staying at home, the American couple saw the pandemic as an opportunity to embark on a 3,149-mile hike along the Continental Divide Trail, which stretches across the United States between the borders of Mexico. and Canada.

Famous TikTok

Miller and Beissinger shared their four-month trip on the trail, commonly known as the CDT, on social media website TikTok, where they now have 1.7 million followers.

“We knew… other hikers would find it interesting to watch someone on the CDT,” Beissinger said. “But the fact that many people were inspired and motivated to think more about hiking… was just fun and rewarding. “

According to the United States Department of Agriculture, the CDT stretches the length of the United States from north to south, passing famous hiking destinations such as Yellowstone National Park and Glacier National Park, and along the Rocky Mountains.

Beissinger and Miller arrive in Canada after a four-month trek that began at the US-Mexico border.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

The couple gained popularity on TikTok as followers tune in to see the CDT’s scenic views and to track their progress.

“We didn’t have to do any work to show how beautiful it was,” Beissinger said.

The couple said they received messages from people saying they were inspired to start the hike – some for the very first time.

Beissinger said a man told them he was inspired to start hiking for health reasons.

“He lost 42 pounds,” Beissinger said, adding that long-distance hiking doesn’t require any previous experience. “You just need to have the desire and the passion.”

Hiking tips

From packing lists to recipes, the couple’s social media pages and online blog have tips for preparing for the CDT hike.

To make sure they had a sufficient supply of food, Miller and Beissinger dehydrated 100 homemade dinners and mailed them to the various towns they planned to pass through on their trek.

“It’s really nice to have a healthy, homemade meal at the end of each day,” said Miller, who said these meals typically contained a combination of carbohydrates, veggies, beans, and flavors.

Miller and Beissinger shared 15 different recipes, such as coconut curry and taco pastes on their blog, along with instructions on how to dehydrate and cook meals.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

The couple did not always have access to clean drinking water during their trip and often depended on streams, lakes and rivers to stay hydrated.

“Our water filter was extremely important… We could have gotten sick if the water sources were infected or contaminated with Giardia,” she said. “It could have got us off the track.”

The couple reused disposable water bottles throughout their hike as they weigh less than aluminum bottles.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

While crossing a desert, Beissinger recounted how they began to run out of water after a spring they were using dried up.

“After going back 11 miles and really rationing our water and getting thirsty, we found a nice full cow pot,” he said, referring to a drinker. “Cow water has never tasted so good.”

Bumps along the way

Miller and Beissinger’s trip to CDT may seem like the perfect escape from the blockages many experienced in 2021. But their journey came with many challenges, they said.

Rapid climate change often meant traveling in the rain for hours.

Harsh weather conditions were the norm on the couple’s trek from Mexico to Canada.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

“We had our raincoats, our rain pants and even our rain gloves, but we always had wet feet,” Miller recalls. “I had a blister on each toe under my foot.”

The pair went through five pairs of shoes each over the four-month period, she said.

The gear that was brought in to make sure they stay warm and dry throughout the hike “could have been a matter of life and death when the weather changed,” Beissinger added.

Miller and Beissinger encountered animals, from bears to mountain goats, during their four-month hike.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

Traveling during the pandemic also meant that when the couple left the track to venture into cities, drivers were more cautious about their driving.

“Normally the trail goes up into the mountains,” Beissinger said. “We usually hitchhike to a town… maybe the cars were more nervous about stopping and picking us up.”

The couple didn’t always have access to showers either. At one point along the trail they went 23 days without swimming.

No regrets

Despite their career suspension and unforeseen challenges while hiking the CDT, I never thought about quitting, Miller said.

“The desire to get home in bed also means the responsibility of not being on a trail and being away from that beauty,” Beissinger said.

He said his favorite moments of the hike were when the couple found themselves “in the middle of nowhere.”

The hiker duo are currently north of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden experiencing “polar night,” a phenomenon where the sun does not rise for weeks or even months, according to the hiker. ‘place.

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