Sadly, it’s time to make official what I’ve known for the last few weeks: I won’t be hiking the Continental Divide Trail this year.
Because of the COVID-19 crisis, it’s been clear for weeks that a thru-hike this year was not going to happen. But I’d been waiting to cancel my hike until the Continental Divide Trail Coalition cancelled their terminus shuttle.
Earlier this week, the CDTC cancelled their shuttle through the end of April. Surprisingly, they haven’t cancelled service for the whole northbound season yet, but it seems pretty clear they’re going to have to.
Since it’s highly unlikely that the COVID-19 crisis will end anytime in the next month or two, a northbound hike is essentially implausible, because it just won’t be safe to go through trail towns until the crisis is over.
So while I could consider postponing my hike until later in May, or even switching to a southbound hike, I don’t think that we’ll be back to anything resembling business as usual by then.
As the coronavirus continues to spread, the number of impacted locations continues to rise. Many state and national parks are closed. Trail towns are emphatically asking people to stay away. Four of the five states on the CDT (as well as my home state) are under stay-at-home orders.
The ATC, PCTA, and CDTC are all asking hikers to stay off their respective trails. In fact, as a result of the disease, the ATC and 29 of the 31 AT maintenance clubs made the unprecedented request to officially close the Appalachian Trail!
This is a bad year for hiking, anywhere. Hopefully by fall, things will be something resembling normal again and some kind of shorter hike will be possible.
This is quite the disappointment, since I’ve been looking forward to the CDT for three and a half years.
So, I guess we’ll try this again next year. The trail’s not going anywhere, after all...