After many miles, many challenges, and many hours on my feet moving through Colorado and part of Wyoming, I realized that my heart is not tethered to the idea of needing to thru hike the Continental Divide Trail. I feel rather complete with the miles I have trekked in terms of resetting and doing something for me. Thru hiking has arbitrary start and finish lines, just like races do, and while these structures certainly serve significant purposes at many moments in time for others and have for me as well, at this particular moment with this particular trail, I just do not feel called to complete the entire 3,000+ miles from Mexico to Canada at this time.
The trail and its challenges are not too difficult for me. In fact, the easier decision would be to keep going (which I know probably sounds crazy to most people). But I am good at thru hiking. I can pound out the miles and handle the logistics and find joy in a dandelion I’ve seen a thousand times. I think that is why I chose it as a landing spot for me while I was flailing. I needed something to look forward to, somewhere to go, something to do, for me. Red Stripe was a giant pull because I love her spirit and we make excellent hiking partners so having her out there made me feel like I could release my life as it was and land where she was and proceed. And I think the exercise was very valuable. I also think feeling completely resolute and okay with my decision not to continue has been a valuable process for me.
At first my self talk used the phrase “quitting the trail” and I realized that really didn’t resonate with my heart. I didn’t feel like I was quitting anything. In fact I felt that continuing on the trail would be “quitting” in terms of tuning away from my heart. Thru hiking the CDT was not something I dreamed up and planned for months like everyone else out there. They had many months to truly feel the reverberation of intention within. I think I missed an important step when biting off a gigantic task such as thru hiking a very challenging trail such as the CDT and that was one of true intentionality. I think I confused lack of intention with nerves, which are normal, but my inner compass really was not aligned with this hike.
The ups and downs and the reset within has served me so significantly and I’m so grateful I set out to thru hike and went through a very difficult mental process of in the end just not choosing it. If I had set out to only section hike I don’t think I would have done the depths of internal work I did to arrive where I am. Getting into the rhythm of nature, putting “regular life” on an indefinite hold and moving with my body and emotions and moods and thoughts allowed me to center myself in a way I didn’t even fully realize I needed to.
I feel complete with the nearly 200 miles I hiked out there. I can figure anything out, including what is next, and what is after that. Some things will be more planned and with intention and others will be spontaneous. I may take a break from social media for a while and do more art. For now, I’m headed to Colombia for a bit.