Montana? Already?

Updates on this site have been lacking, but it isn’t due to a shortage of amazing events. As one of the few hikers out here without a smartphone, gaining access to the internet can be challenging.

This past month has been chock full of adventure, mayhem, and glorious trail randomness! I finally caught up with the footprints I’d been following for 2 months and met Dirtmonger, another CDT hiker who started a few days before me. Check out his blog here; postholer.com/journal

The Great Divide Basin, the Wind River Range, Yellowstone…so many spectacular areas, and lucky me, I get to soak it all in while hiking a steady 3.5 MPH pace. The trail is a cleansing place, and every night I get to quietly reflect on all I saw during the day. Dusk turns to night, the stars spin their patterns above my simple camp, and I fall asleep eager for tomorrow.

 

 

 

Colorado!

I’m getting a little behind on my updates, since internet availability isn’t as often as I’d prefer, but I can assure y’all that I’m still out here hiking away! Crossing the border into Colorado meant lingering snow, and the postholing was terrible at times. Sinking up to your thighs in snow makes for low mile days, but there isn’t any point in complaining…you just keep pushing forward.

I’m currently in Leadville, CO doing some food resupply after a much needed shower. The trail in this section is splendid, since the CDT and the Colorado Trail are one and the same. Very well maintained, so 30 mile days are a snap. My pack is light, my spirits high, and the mountains just flow under my feet. Birdsong wakes me in the morning, and a canopy of stars sees me off to bed. In between…I walk. I think about everything and nothing, both at the same time. The sun rolls across the sky, shadows play off the dirt and trees, my eyes take it all in and the mobile meditation of hiking soothes my mind.

After 15,000 miles of hiking the long distance trails, I finally saw my first mountain lion! It was only a 3 second viewing, but there was no mistaking that huge cougar tail as it bounded into the forest. I was very pleased to finally see this elusive creature, and would be lying if I didn’t admit to casting a few backwards glances the rest of the day. Didn’t want that kitty sneaking up on me!

Backwards on the CDT

Well, not backwards really, but this year I’m hiking in the opposite direction of my 2007 hike. I left the Mexican border at Antelope Wells on the evening of May 3rd and have been hiking north ever since. It’s been interesting to see the landscape in a different season, and I’m constantly reminded how different my emotions were back then. In 2007, New Mexico was the end of my hike, and each step was closer to completing a 2800 mile walk across the continent. My brain and body had been in hiking mode for 4 months! Now I’m walking the same path, but I’m seeing my surroundings with a fresh perspective and the realization that my journey is just beginning.

The quiet meditation of solitary hiking has been wonderful, and I’m already feeling the stress of urban living melt away. I pop into town every hundred miles or so for food resupply, and am reminded that civilization is a nice place to visit, but I don’t want to dwell there longer than need be. My day starts with the break of dawn, and the chirping of birds is a gentle alarm to nudge me out of sleep. I’ve been sleeping under the stars without my tarp most nights, and I love watching dusk fade to black as the stars make their appearance. Coyote barking in the distance tells me that while my day is done, others are still awake with business to attend to.

Water sources are far and few between, so I must pay close attention to my maps and stay hydrated in this harsh desert environment. The desert flora is beautiful, but everything has defenses to either stab or scratch the unwary traveler. My shoes fill with sand, and lips dry and crack in the arid air. Fierce winds try to snatch the hat off my head, rattlesnakes shake their warning at my approach, and the circling buzzards remind me that my life is of no importance here. My demise, however, would fill a hungry belly and these bones would become more white artifacts amongst the debris of animals who perished out here.