From the PCT to the CDT


PCT or CDT, that is the question...

Once I’d decided to travel across the United States, I needed to decide on my route. To start with, I imagined walking in the Rockies, but after searching on the Internet and reading articles in Carnets d’Aventure and Trek Magazine, I discovered the "Pacific Crest Trail" (PCT), a 2,500-km trail that crosses California, Oregon and Washington states. For a time, I thought that the PCT went up the Rocky Mountains until I realized that in fact the Rockies are further east.

So I chose this route and bought the relevant guides to continue with my research. In Lyon, France, I met Elodie and Stéphane, who had just got back after finishing this long hike (read all about their adventures on the website: However, as I looked into the PCT more closely, I realized that it’s difficult for a horse or mule to travel from start to finish of the route: snow, scarce grass in some places, and remote villages make it necessary to get supplies using a vehicle, or use hiding places, none of which appealed to me. It’s much easier for hikers, because they can regularly hitch a lift to the nearest town. That was not going to be easy with a mule, even though American pick-ups are pretty big. I couldn’t find many alternative routes to avoid the difficult parts. I found myself hesitating, not quite sure what to do. I almost gave up on the idea of taking a mule….

At the same time, I came across the Queen Valley Mule Ranch where I went to buy my mule and spend the first few weeks of my life in America. The ranch is located in Phoenix, Arizona, which is between California and New Mexico. It was there, while surfing on the internet, that I took another look at the geographic situation of the Rockies and observed that another long-distance path crosses them, the Continental Divide Trail (CDT). It is longer, harder, with more snow, more remote and less travelled than the Pacific Crest Trail. Did that make it a crazy option for me? No, because the CDT is paired up with a cycle tour path called the Great Divide, at a slightly lower altitude that takes it closer to the villages and which struck me as the perfect alternative route. If a mountain bike can do it, so can a mule!

So I went back to my first dream, the Rocky Mountains, Wyoming and those wide open spaces…