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Hiking the CDT: Where are the rivers?

Henry Strawbridge watches wild horses during a stretch of the CDT trail in the middle of Wyoming.
Georgie Strawbridge

Editor’s Note: The Strawbridge family from Lakeland, Fla., is hiking the length of the Continental Divide Trail – all 3,100 miles of it – from Canada to Mexico. Henry Strawbridge, 14, will be providing updates of their journey to Trout Unlimited as they pass through the historic range of seven native trout species. You can track the family and see reports submitted by Henry on this map.

By Henry Strawbridge

Over the last months, we have walked through many incredible places. On this section, I don’t know that beautiful is the right word. Maybe it’s more like bizarre. Walking these extensive trails you learn to expect mountains, especially View Poston the Continental Divide Trail where the water table is divided. The middle of Wyoming, however, is flat as far as the eye can see.

The landscape has no trees, just sage brush and other hardy brambles that have very little need for water. Unfortunately, we aren’t like them. 

A horned lizard, also known as a horny toad, found along the CDT in Wyoming. Georgie Strawbridge photo.

The wildlife also changes, instead of deer, there are pronghorn. Instead of bears there are coyotes. Instead of moose there are wild mustangs. Horny toads instead of squirrels. And the most interesting thing is because of how far you can see, with no trees obstructing your view, you see all the wildlife at the same time.

The CDT joins the Oregon, California, and Seminole trails for about 30 miles in Wyoming. This makes me almost wish we had a covered wagon. During this stretch there were only two water sources, both springs. I can only imagine what it was like for the first settlers to cross that desert. They would have no idea where the next water source was, or even if there was a plausible way to get past the Divide. Compared to their journey, ours was easy. We knew where to find water, we knew how long we would be in flat country, and we knew the best way to get through. Civilization was not far away. 

The CDT crosses several other nationally recognized trails in Wyoming. Georgie Strawbridge photo.

Another thing they changed in the desert was the distance we covered each day. The first day walking out of Atlantic City around 2 p.m., we got about 10 miles. The next day we covered 28. The next 30, and the final day into Rawlins, we set a new record of 32.2 miles. At that point the .2 counts in a whole different way, you know?

Setting new daily mileage records is hard on the socks. Georgie Strawbridge photo.

But the thing about the desert that stands out the most to this Florida kid? There were no fish at all. Not one! How come the springs don’t have fish in them? How come all the rivers… oh, wait. Never mind. There are none. How come the … oh wait. There are none of those either.

Until next time,

Henry

COVID-19 note: The Strawbridge family anxiously watched as the coronavirus issue threatened their plans to do the CDT this year. After careful consideration the family made the decision to drive to Montana to start the trip to avoid any possible exposure on airplanes. None of the family members are exhibiting symptoms. They will continue with limited contact with the outside world throughout the duration of the trip.