Tips for hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT)

As Covid-19 stopped international travel around the world, millions of people cancelled their travel plans in 2021.

Renee Miller and Tim Basinger are not among them.

The pair are “thru-hikers”, a term that describes a way of hiking that starts and ends in different places, while usually covering long distances.

Instead of staying at home, the American couple saw the pandemic as an opportunity to hike 3,149 miles along the Continental Divide, a trail that spans the United States and lies between the borders of Mexico and Canada.

Douyin is famous

This is the second time Beissinger and Miller have hiked from Mexico to Canada after hiking on the Pacific Crest Trail on the West Coast in 2018.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

The couple is very popular on TikTok because fans have watched the beauty of CDT and monitored their progress.

“We don’t need to do any work to show its beauty,” Basinger said.

The couple said that they had received messages from some people who said they were inspired to start hiking-some for the first time.

Basinger said a man told them that for health reasons, he was inspired to start hiking.

“He lost 42 pounds,” Beissinger said, adding that long-distance hikes do not require prior experience. “You just need to have desire and passion.”

Hiking tips

From packing lists to recipes, the couple’s social media pages and online blog all contain tips for preparing the CDT on foot.

To ensure they had enough food, Miller and Basinger dehydrated 100 homemade dinners and mailed them to the towns where they planned to hike.

“It’s great to have a healthy homemade meal at the end of the day,” Miller said, who said that these meals usually contain a combination of carbohydrates, vegetables, legumes and condiments.

Miller and Beissinger shared 15 different recipes on their blog, such as coconut cashew curry and taco pasta, as well as instructions on how to dehydrate and cook food.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

The couple reused disposable water bottles throughout the hike because they are lighter than aluminum bottles.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

While traveling through the desert, Beissinger told how they began to lack water when the spring water they used dried up.

“After going back 11 miles and really rationing our water and getting thirsty, we found a nice complete beef pot,” he said, referring to a sink. “Nuffy has never been so good.”

Bumps all the way

Miller and Basinger’s journey on CDT sounds like the perfect escape from the lockdown that many people experienced in 2021. But they said that their journey brought many challenges.

The rapid changes in weather usually mean driving in the rain for hours at a time.

During the couple’s hike from Mexico to Canada, bad weather conditions were the norm.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

“We even had raincoats, rain pants and rain gloves, but our feet were always wet,” Miller recalled. “There is a blister on each toe on the sole of my foot.”

She said that in four months, the couple each wore five pairs of shoes.

Basinger added that the equipment they carry to ensure they stay warm and dry throughout the hike “may become a matter of life and death when the weather changes.”

Miller and Basinger encountered animals ranging from bears to goats during a four-month hike.

Courtesy of Timothy Beissinger and Renee Miller

Traveling during the pandemic also meant that when the couple left the trail to venture into town, the drivers were more cautious about hitchhiking.

“Usually this trail is in the mountains,” Basinger said. “We usually hitchhike to a town… the car may be more worried about stopping to pick us up.”

The couple can’t always take a shower either. At a certain point along the trail, they did not take a bath for 23 consecutive days.

No regrets

Although they put their careers on hold during the CDT hike and encountered unforeseen challenges, “I never thought about giving up,” Miller said.

“The desire to go home and sleep also means not to walk on the road and to stay away from that kind of beauty,” Basinger said.

He said his favorite place to hike was when the couple found themselves “in a remote place.”

The trekking duo is currently experiencing a “polar night” north of the Arctic Circle in northern Sweden, which is a phenomenon where the sun does not rise for weeks or even months, depending on the location.