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The CDT Project

We sent 209 readers out to GPS the Continental Divide Trail, the biggest, baddest long-distance path of them all. They brought back the makings of the first authoritative map of this American classic. These are their stories–and their favorite sections.
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Rounded, tree-topped mountains that rise to 10,000 feet define this landscape, giving it a truly remote feel. Yet the forgiving elevation profile and well-maintained trail allowed the team to average 13 miles a day. The trek starts at Trailhead 17 and occasionally escapes the trees to skirt alpine plateaus and rocky knobs offering wide views over the valley below. "Some of those rocks were as big as houses," reports team leader Kevin Kondrat, who also spied elk and mountain lion tracks. By day four, after hiking 40 miles, you traverse swampy lowlands and stands of fluttering aspen. The final 10 miles (on day five) cross a broad meadow that drops gently to Trailhead 10.

Beta backpacker.com/cdt/butte

Join the Cause
The Continental Divide Trail Alliance says $45 million is needed to survey and build the remaining 1,043 miles of trail. With aggressive fundraising and some federal aid, the CDTA hopes to complete it in five years. Here are three ways you can help make this path more accessible to other hikers:

1. Sign up for a weekend or weeklong CDT trail-building vacation at cdtrail.org.
2. Volunteer to help us map more sections at backpacker.com/cdt.
3. Become a CDTA member or send a check.

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