Parked and started at twin lakes dam. (1.6 miles from the loop)
Sep 1-13. One zero day at Monarch.
I dropped a hiker box at Monarch, Bear canister of food at Cottonwood pass and a ammo can of food at Avalanche trailhead. I hiked the east side southbound first, so a couple days in I got to Avalanche for food, and 3.5 days later Monarch for food. Cottonwood was 3.5 days from Monarch and then back to the car at Twin Lakes. I planned to do this whole trip unsupported, but helpful family members who were camping nearby picked me up at some trailheads for some nights in the camper and slackpacking some days. My first day was a half day at 10 miles, my longest day was just under 22, and my last tiny day was 6 miles.
Get started in the East, it will help you acclimate. There is a lot of ups and downs but not as high as the West. Last year I tried the West first and got altitude sickness when I had a bad bad cold already. The West is great. Beautiful views. Especially Tin Cup Pass to Cottonwood pass.
Even with lots of home cooked food from relatives along the trail, I lost 7 lbs. Pack lots of snacks and plan to eat every 2 hours in the climbs. This trail could be done by buying food at Mount Princeton Store and Monarch, as long as you weren’t picky about having hot meals. I’d still cache food at Cottonwood so I wouldn’t need to hitch to town or carry 6 days of food across the west.
I had a fantastic time and I’m sad it had to come to an end. Good luck to the others out on the CT and CDT still out hiking. It was fantastic to run into you and visit along the way.