Continental Divide Trail #34: Epic Finish!

You may recall from CDT posts #3 and #4 that our son, Philip, hiked with Og for his first week of the Continental Divide Trail in April 2015 from Crazy Cook on the border of Mexico. They trudged north across the New Mexico desert in searing heat with little water and undefined trail, but had a blast, of course. As Chief Resident in Ophthalmology at USC in Los Angeles, Philip couldn’t get time off to finish with Og last August as he made it to Canada. So it’s even more meaningful that Philip was able to complete Og’s final week with him this September 2016, in the formidable Weminuche Wilderness, previously impassable with deep snow. 

The mountains of the Weminuche Wilderness are the most remote on the whole CDT, and, between 11,000 and 13,000 feet, among the highest. 

The weather window to hike the Weminuche is narrow. Last winter’s snow had finally melted, but Og and Philip had snow their first night out, then storms with heavy rain, hail, and sleet for part of most days/nights after.

They hiked more than twenty miles a day. Given the steep climbs and descents on difficult terrain, Philip, who sailed through five Ironman triathlons, said “The Weminuche is the toughest physical challenge I’ve ever faced!” 

Route-finding was especially difficult, and they got lost at least once a day. 

The views from the alpine tundra were spectacular, though!

The sunsets allowed for deep reflection. 

Almost out of food on their fifth day, they raced to their final destination at Elk Park, where the Durango Silverton Narrow Gauge Railroad train picks up the occasional backpacker who flags it down in the wilderness. 

Here we are, Og, Intrepid, She Who Must Be Obeyed (see CDT post #33 for the story of our trail-names), and Philip, in Durango celebrating the end of a 3,100-mile journey on the Continental Divide Trail. 

Thank you deeply for all your support, cheering us on every step of the way. We keep you in our hearts as Og, Intrepid, and She Who Must Be Obeyed head for a week-long silent meditation retreat on our way home, to absorb the profound transformation of our wilderness experience.


38 comments on “Continental Divide Trail #34: Epic Finish!

  1. Hardest physical challenge of the trail followed by a week of silent meditation. I’m sitting here shaking my head. You are amazing–all three of you. Amber puts up with a lot, you know. Not easy being the third party in this pack, I’m thinking. Congrats and waiting to hear all about it.

  2. Wonderful achievement for you both–and what a bonus to have Philip along for the grand finale! These two men are amazing–as are you, my friend. What a story, what a life! Now for a week’s silent contemplation where you can relive each exciting and challenging moment, all the natural beauty of your grand adventure! See you back home later on– xo Rosita

  3. Big smile on my face. I love the notion of being picked up by that train. I’ve ridden the train. It’s a fun time. And how luxurious to catch a ride after a grueling hike. I can see, from the photos, how difficult it had to be to know where the trail was in some places. Gail, you and Amber stand between two remarkable men. I hope there was some champagne around to celebrate.

    • Spencer, thank you! We were sorry to miss Mukti’s retreat, since we were at Sharon Landrith’s week-long silent meditation retreat in Crestone. Will look forward to hearing about it. Love to you and Linda!

  4. Hurrah! Huzza! Congrats!

    But, arrrrrgh! What WILL we do now? (We, as in us addicts of vicarious, serial thrills.) Life will be bor-ING! Uninspirational. Perhaps, I’m thinking, I’ll start in again at CDT#1. Hey, send this to the binder: “Every Inch of the CDT with OG, Intrepid, and She Who Must Be Obeyed.”

    What’s most stunning is how you can slog up and down, peak to vale, through the mud and sleet and hail, the snowpack and swamps and shale, blistering heat, boulder fields, raging waters . . . and then, clean up so well!

    Huge blessings on you,

    • Kathleen, thank you! And I talked about your fabulous book, HOW TO SHIT IN THE WOODS, to several other thru-hikers, many of whom had read it, of course! Blessings and love back atcha!

  5. Magnificent!!! What a beautiful way to end your journey So glad you had Phillip with you on the final leg. What fabulous pictures!! I am in awe of your athletic prowess as well as the amazing photo’s of the steep terrain and the inspiring panoramic views! Thank you for sharing your adventures with me (and many others). I’m sure you are both thankful and blessed to have yet accomplished another goal. I am honored to be counted among your friends. Take care and enjoy your retreat! Love, Andrea & Del

  6. Congrats to all and thank you for sharing the big journey! I love that you all started together and finished together. You share vistas from places I know I can never get to. Much love to you, Og, and Philip. And Ms. Amber!

  7. Epic finish to an epic journey! Thank you for sharing your adventure Gail, it’s been so inspiring to travel long with you. Bravo and congratulations to you all!

    • Drueann, thanks so much! On our way home we went to Crestone for Sharon Landrith’s week-long silent meditation retreat, and I thought of you–hope all is fabulous with you!

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