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Walking the Great Continental Divide Trail with Tim Voors

Tim Voors, following his first book with us, The Great Alone, takes his second journey with gestalten with The Great Divide, an epic adventure walking the Continental Divide Trail.

Walking the Great Continental Divide Trail with Tim Voors


At 3,100 miles or 5,000 km, the Continental Divide Trail is the longest trail through any country in the world. Also known as the CDT, it is renowned for being beautiful yet brutal—an endurance test requiring versatility, flexibility, and adaptability in the face of nature’s many whims.

With the Pacific Crest Trail already under his belt, Tim Voors turns his attention to the second of the country's three great thru hikes, charting a path through the heart of the United States. The culmination of that CDT experience is documented in our new title, The Great Divide.

We spoke to Tim Voors about his hiking experiences, his work, and what keeps him going during long hours on the trail.

This is the second book you have published with gestalten after The Great Alone, where you hiked the Pacific Crest Trail. What is the best memory you have from that earlier adventure and what did you take from that into this one?

There was so much that I took from my first big adventure along the Pacific Crest Trail, but if I had to sum it all up, it would be ‘puur simplicity’ and ‘a longing for endless emptiness.’ Life on trail is tough and painful at times, but it also brings a puur simplicity that we have lost in our busy urban lives. Simplicity in that you just have to focus on walking, surviving, eating and sleeping when the sun goes down. Ever since I hiked the PCT, I longed for the endless emptiness that the American wilderness offers. This is something that is very hard to find here in Europe, and something that I have grown to love and yearn for as I dream of new adventures in the US. The Continental Divide was even more pure, brutal, beautiful and even more empty and endless. At the age of 50 I fell in love with nature all over again.

 Illustration from the Continental Divide Trail by Tim Voors

(Illustration: Tim Voors)

The Great Divide features some of your excellent illustrations - both sketches and landscape paintings. How did you make the artwork for the book - from memory, photographs, or did you sketch 'on the road’?

I carried some water color paint and a paintbrush with me when I was hiking the Continental Divide Trail. I like to paint for people who help me along the way. Always using yellow and blue paint. Sometimes I quickly make a small painting for someone who just gave me a hitch to town, or for a friendly local who put me up for the night. For the book I also created a series of black and white pen illustrations to bring to life my fellow hikers and the typical American culture that I came across during my adventure across the States. These black and white illustrations I always create back home, as I relive the memories.

 Tim Voors The Great Divide gestalten

(Photo: Tim Voors)

You walked 5,000 km on the Continental Divide Trail, which, according to Google Maps, is roughly the equivalent of walking from your home in Amsterdam all the way to Tehran, through multiple countries and cultures. Are there any countries you haven't visited yet that you'd love to?

I’d love to hike in Iran and do the Nomad Trail with locals and their herd of goats. This year I am going on a long adventure with my son across Laos, and Vietnam. Morocco has great trails in their Atlas Mountains. And of course in the Austrian, French and Swiss Alps there is still so much to explore. Nepal, Kirghizistan, Georgia, India, there are so many fascinating countries and trails around the world.

What trails are on your hiking bucket list, if you have one?

I feel as if I have only just got started. There are still so many beautiful countries to walk through. Fortunately more and more countries are creating their own wilderness trails from border to border. I would love to do the Peace Trail, down the Jordan Trail and up along the Israel National Trail. But there are more important tragic events going on there currently. The walk will have to wait. I’d love to do the Great Himalaya Trail through Nepal, but of course can’t wait to do the Appalachian Trail , as my love for the American wilderness is so strong.

 The Great Divide by Tim Voors

(Photo: Tim Voors)

We know you love your podcasts and that they kept you going throughout the 5,000km, which five would you recommend to hikers on a long trek?

How I Build This by Guy Raz

Keep Your Day Dreams

TED Radio Hour

Dirtbag Diaries

The Bomb by BBC 

Who would be your ideal hiking partners, if you could choose three people throughout history?

To be honest, my ideal hiking partner is a stranger. A stranger who I simply randomly bump into along the trail. By chance, serendipity or whatever, without any expectations. That’s where the magic happens for me. It is in going out alone on adventures and opening yourself up, that you meet so many wonderful strangers that enrich your life along the trail. Having said that, I would love to hike with my Grandfather whom I never had the fortune to ever meet, and Richard Branson or Oprah Winfrey would be cool to hike a few miles with, and of course I’d love to ask Jesus a few questions. But the best hiking partners are my kids. I recently walked the Fishermen’s Trail in Portugal with my 18 year old daughter; Priceless!

The Great Divide by Tim Voors and gestalten
(Product shot: The Great Divide)

Tim Voors takes the endurance test of a lifetime along the length of the United States in The Great Divide. Order The Great Divide now.