CDT: South San Juans

Hiking the Continental Divide Trail, Colorado

This last week I hiked the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) through the South San Juan Wilderness with two of my friends. It’s a 60+ mile trek from Cumbres Pass near Chama, New Mexico to Wolf Creek Pass near Pagosa Springs, Colorado. Although we initially planned for 6 days out there, we ended up hiking an average of 13 miles per day, finishing in 5 days.

This hike was the longest distance backpacking trek I’ve ever done, and the first time in a long time that I’ve gone on a trip where the priority for me was the hiking itself, rather than the photography. We had a lot of ground to cover and we spent a good portion of each day just hiking. The photography was mostly unplanned, take-what-you-can-get shots along the way.

It’s pretty amazing to hike so far, basin after basin, each day looking back at distant mountains on the horizon and knowing that you just walked all the way from there, step by step. Although I usually prefer to hike shorter distances each day (to have more time to relax at each camp spot and concentrate more on photography), the South San Juans are well-suited for this style of long multi-day trekking. The mountains are remote with poor access, and the trail is fairly flat and mostly on high tundra with the logical camping spots being few and far between.

See my gallery of photos from the trip here.

4 thoughts on “CDT: South San Juans

  1. Cool!! Have a great trip, many years ago I did the Stoney Pass to Wolf Creek backpack, I’ll never forget it. Look forward to your photos.

  2. i was jealous of this trip until I took my 3 nighter with jesse. it about killed me. i can’t fathom hiking 10 miles a day with a 50lb. pack. hope you took your light camera equipment.

  3. ME AND A FEW OF MY BUDDIES ARE PLANNING A BACKPACKING TRIP THIS SUMMER AND WE ARE CONSIDERING DOING THE CONTINENTAL DIVIDE TRAIL. I WAS JUST WONDERING IF SOMEONE COULD TELL ME A LITTLE ABOUT IT… IS IT USED BY MANY PEOPLE? IS THE FISHING AT BLUE LAKE GOOD? WOULD IT BE SUITABLE FOR 5 COLLEGE STUDENTS?

  4. Hi Matt,

    I’m not sure about the fishing at Blue Lake since I didn’t have a pole during the trek. I bet it’s pretty good though since it’s very remote, and a fairly large lake. The section of the trail through the South San Juans requires a car shuttle, and would be a fine trail to do as long as you guys are comfortable hiking 60 miles.

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