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Encampment to Rawlins – CDT Thru Hike 2018

Continental Divide Trail – Encampment to Rawlins Hike Overview

encampment to rawlins hike on the continental divide trail 2018

North of Encampment, the landscape abruptly changes from mountains to desert. The desert here begins as rolling hills, filled with pronghorn. It’s a long road walk into Rawlins. The views aren’t the finest, but the new landscape is interesting after so much time in the mountains. 

Friday July 20th – CDT Day 91

I didn’t go to bed until around 11 last night, but I also slept in till 9am. By this time the only hiker still here was Jesus and knots. Knots was on his way out, so I followed him over to the divide restaurant near the post office for breakfast.

I hung out at the campground most of the day, taking care of little things on my to-do list for those days in town when I have internet. It was a warm day so I was also really taking my time, waiting for the heat of the day to die down.

It was around 6pm when I left the campground. As I was walking towards Encampment, I saw Aaron. He gave me a Gatorade and we walked back to the Bighorn Lodge where he was staying with Dixie. I’m headed over to the divide restaurant again for dinner before hitching out of town. Later, Aaron and Dixie joined me.

I stood out in front of the post office to hitch back to battle pass around 7pm. The first car that drove by picked me up, took less than 5 minutes.

I was hiking by 7:30pm. After leaving the paved road the trail is a dirt road for a while. I followed it uphill through a little ways and made camp a little after 8pm. 2 miles, this will probably end up being my shortest day on the CDT.

Miles – 2
Total Miles – 1459
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, tent
Animals – none

Saturday July 21st – CDT Day 92

Walked to the top of Bridger peak this morning, 10,951′. This is the high point for the next 200ish miles along the CDT.


The trail drops in elevation from here until the great Divide basin desert, which I’ll enter in another 20 miles.

Stopped to filter water at a Creek, and ate first lunch. Another mile later, I reached a trailhead. Here I met a guy named crazy Joe who was camping and doing a little trail magic. I drank a beer with him and talked for about an hour. Cool guy. Not as crazy as the name implies.

Next the trail pops out of the forest and into an open Ridgeline environment. I’m digging it.

It’s a couple hours walk along the remaining mountainous Ridgeline, in and out of forests. I saw a lot of deer through here.


Reaching the last hill was cool. The very end of the mountains and down into the desert, just like that. It’s a profound feeling, the nearly instant and obvious transition from mountains to desert in what seemed like a single step.

Almost immediately the trail joins a dirt road. I followed this to sage creek rd, which I then will follow all the way to Rawlins.

It was still pretty hot even though it was now really evening. I had a half litter of really warm water left. I hiked a few miles to savory creek, whew I took a break in the shade. I ate dinner and filtered water. Chugged a liter and carried 4 with me.

Hiked another couple miles with a nice sunset to entertain. I also saw several pronghorn, first on the CDT for me. Even though I was along the road, I could appreciate the desert landscape. It’s not the super flat kind of desert. Rather, the kind filled with rolling hills.

Found camp around 9pm. It’s just a flat spot on a burm above the road. Decided to cowboy camp, mostly out of laziness.

Miles – 29
Total Miles – 1488
Rain – no
Sleep – Backcountry, cowboy camp
Animals – deer, pronghorn

Sunday July 22nd – CDT Day 93

I woke up around 3am when it started sprinkling. I set up my tent just in time, as the rain intensified right after.

The skies were grey and occasional light sprinkles this morning. Not what I expected in the desert, especially since I’ve only had maybe one other gloomy morning on the CDT like this so far. Almost no days like this in the New Mexico desert.

Today will be straight forward… Follow the road to Rawlins, all day long. Yay.

Came across a cooler along side the road this morning filled with water for CDT hikers. I had 3+ liters, so I left the water for others.

With the grey skies, the Temps were nice and cool, and there was a nice breeze. Perfect for desert hiking! However, Road walking can be pretty boring.

I took lunch in a culvert along side the road. It started sprinkling so it was perfect timing.

I came across another cooler a few miles south of Teton reservoir. This one had ice cold water, with some ice still floating around in the cooler. I definitely took advantage of this one!

Teton reservoir area was the most interesting thing I’d see all day. Not because of the water, which was not that visible from the road really, but because of the interesting mesas just beyond. I took another break in a culvert here, this one with a good view of the mesas.

After this break, the clouds stated clearing. This meant hotter hiking.

A few miles north of Teton reservoir, the dirt road turns to pavement. Good news, as I no longer have to eat dust and pebbles as asshole motorists fly by with no regard to my existence. Bad news, it’s a bit harder on the feet.

The walk along the paved Road was even less interesting. Nothing to do except walk as fast as possible. I took this opportunity to monitor my road walk pace. I figure 3.75 MPH, or 16 minute miles.

I could see Rawlins in the distance as the road approached town. It felt like a Wyoming version of Grants, NM. Hopefully no gauntlet of aggressive dogs guarding the city though.

Rawlins is pretty spread out, so it still took about an hour to reach the hotel after entering the city. Apparently all the hotels are near booked so I barely got a room at the days inn, which had changed names to Magnuson. Nothing special about this place. A little run down actually.

Are dinner at McDonald’s and came back to the hotel to pass out. Today was 34 miles, tied for the most miles I’ve ever done in a day.

Miles – 34
Total Miles – 1522
Rain – yes
Sleep – hotel
Animals – pronghorn

Monday July 23 – CDT Day 94 (zero day)

Slept in to 9am which felt great, but still not long enough. Did sink laundry and called my dad, then I went to McDonald’s again for lunch. There isn’t much around here to eat really.

Made a reservation across the street at Econo Lodge for the evening, since it seemed like a nicer place for the same price. Plus, they have a hot tub! Walked over there around noon and they had no rooms available yet, gotta wait. I hate how hotels do that, make you wait until 3pm to check in. They start cleaning them at 9am so how can there be no clean rooms available? Come on now.

I waited about an hour for my room. Not sure if it was the owner, but an older guy walked by a few times and noticed me sitting there and told the woman at the front desk to hurry up and “get this young man a room”. So I’m wondering, what age do you stop becoming a young man and just a man? Is it relative? You’re young man if you’re younger than the person referring to you? Either way, I’ll take it. Young man > old man.

After getting checked into the room, I walked up to Walmart. On the way up there I ran into bartender, another hiker. She had just made the decision to leave the trail due to tendonitis in the foot. It’s really sad to hear that, it must be really hard to make that decision after coming so far.

I spent the rest of the afternoon and evening doing typical town chores. Mostly, dealing with stuff in my bounce box. Backing up pictures and video, updating my GPS with Wyoming tracks, and getting my plan together for the wind River range.

I had put up a post on the CDT Facebook page looking for a partner to hike from Lander to old Faithful, since my route through this area will not be on the official CDT. It would be nice to have someone to hike the winds with, as well as strength in numbers through grizzly country. A hiker name hopeful replied, and it looks like we’re going to meet up in Lander. Perfect!

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