For a moment, imagine hiking from the dusty Mexican border near Lordsburg, New Mexico all the way up the snow-mantled Rocky Mountains in Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana via the Continental Divide Trail (CDT), penetrating Yellowstone and Glacier National Park. At this point, you cross over into Canada and traverse the Canadian Rockies via the Great Divide Trail (GDT) straddling between the provinces of Alberta and British Columbia. Next, you battle the bitter subzero cold of the Yukon Territory, keeping your eyes peeled for magnificent grizzlies and polar bears—from a distance of course! Finally, you journey through northern Alaska all the way to the Seward Peninsula at the Bering Strait at a place called Cape Prince of Wales—the northern terminus of Continental Divide.
I’ll be attempting just such a hike and would be thrilled if you could follow along! As with past hikes, I’ll be wearing my GPS tracker the whole time on this Mexico-to-Alaska route so anyone can drop in at any moment to view my current location or drop me a line.
Outback on the Continental Divide! Stay tuned for details.
From Where to Where?
Crazy Cook Monument (Near Hachita/Lordsburg, NM) to Cape Prince of Wales, AK
Continental Divide Trail (CDT)
Great Divide Trail (GDT)
Other Canadian and Alaskan trail systems and roads along the Continental Divide
Continental Divide Trail (CDT): 3,100 miles
Great Divide Trail (GDT): 750 miles
Other Canadian and Alaskan Trails: TBD
The gear I’ll be taking from Mexico to Alaska may be broken down into three discrete pack setups:
1) Ultralight Rig (New Mexico to Colorado)
2) Mountain Rig (Colorado to Canadian Border)
3) Canadian Rig (Canadian Border to Alaska)
When hiking in isolated parts of Canada and Alaska, a typical ultralight gear arrangement could easily put a hiker’s life at risk. There are no predetermined trail angels, no water caches, and often no cell service. You may see a hunter but even that may be rare. When there are no towns for days or even weeks, hikers have to carry more life-sustaining gear to support themselves and also to protect from subzero temperature exposure sometimes nearing -40 degrees F! Specialized mountaineering gear will also be carried, including an alpine sleeping bag and tent, snow probe, snow shoes, microspikes, crampons, and even a roll-up pulk sled to tow gear!
Justin Outdoors has been a wonderful YouTube resource for learning the basics about gear needed in the remote Canadian Rockies. Justin is a Canadian hiker with a good sense of the weather extremes in Alberta and British Columbia.
Here are the snowshoes I’ll be using, perhaps the lightest pair on the market:
After much research, I finally found the pulk sled I’ll be taking through northern Canada and Alaska. It’s an ultralight version that can be rolled up and strapped to my pack. The sled was originally designed for hunters on foot to drag out their kill. The pulk would be used on extended flat terrain.