The Four Month “Plan”
Crewing Robbie for his thru run of the Colorado Trail (CT) was such an experience. It was tough and also oh so rewarding. Each day and night presented new challenges, obstacles and highlights.
Throughout the 12 days I was the one consistent force keeping Robbie focused and moving forward. Reece, the cinematographer (and Lane sometimes) were out there for a good portion, my parents joined the last few days and Shelley was there for a few days in the middle. They all helped me crew and I’m so appreciative of the time we had together and all the support they offered along the way. We also received big help from some friends in Buena Vista (Mallory, Jason & Allison) and in Leadville (Lelis with the hostel there). It was truly a team effort with many moving pieces and the teamwork behind the scenes made things move as smoothly as one could hope for.
I’m grateful to have been able to support Robbie from start to finish on this thru-run of 486 miles through the mountains of Colorado and it helped inspire me and get me into the mindset for my next adventure which I’ve been extremely hesitant to pull the trigger on.
I am embarking on the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) with the intentions of thru hiking it flip flop style. I’m starting in northern Colorado and meeting my hiking friend and partner Red Stripe who has been hiking this trail since the southern terminus at the Mexican border headed towards Canada. If all goes well, I’ll flip back down to Colorado near the end of August (via modern transportation) and begin hiking southbound to Mexico. The trail is 1,000 miles longer than the Appalachian Trail (at 3,000+ miles total) and the goal is to hike it in about 4 months (which would be about one month faster than I hiked the AT). It is quite ambitious and I’m prepared for many challenges that will likely slow me down or cause me to change course/plan altogether. Having a framework and plan on a thru hike is a nice idea to start with, but I want to stay flexible and not be bound to an artificial timeline or plan. Of course some amount of planning is in order with regards to getting resupplies to myself and I have really waited until the last possible second to figure that part out, but yesterday I was able to ship off my first box, so it is finally starting to feel real.
The adventure to get on trail is beginning with a teeny tiny 8 seater one propellor “airplane” from Cortez, CO (just outside of Durango) to Denver, then a Greyhound bus from Denver to Steamboat Springs. My friend Skylar will meet me there and is saving the day with helping me get my tent poles from Big Agnes, feeding me and letting me stay the night with her before I hit the trail early in the morning.
The decision to jump on trail when I have nothing figured out with my “off trail” life feels spontaneous and exciting, but also possibly a little reckless and scary. I am worried about what I will do when I finish. I quit applying for traditional jobs about a month ago because I was not having any luck and needed to take some space from it all. It opened up the opportunity for me to accept the gig with Robbie crewing his CT run as well as jump on the CDT for the foreseeable future. This is a giant undertaking for me and the last minute/hesitant nature of it all leaves me with some anxiety and fears as it is NOT a casual affair and will involve a lot of focus and strength. The doubts creep in though, maybe because I haven’t put the planning into it I normally would have.
What if I’m not tough enough anymore? What if the cold, or heat or long days leave me feeling too worn out or tired and I can’t keep the pace I want and run out of food? What if I have horrible feet problems or get too lonely? What about grizzly country and bear encounters or protecting my food from bears? What if I can never re-assimilate back to normal society after such an unplugged and extreme excursion? What if 4 months is just too long? Or not long enough? What if my body rejects living off of bars and smoothie powder? What about all the milestones or moments I’ll miss with friends and family over the next 4 months? What if I still can’t find a job or know how I want to serve the world when I’m done?
I’m not naïve enough to think I’m going to figure it all out on a thru hike, but I do think that the slow pace of hiking through mountains and woods allows my mind to meander and process which can serve as cleansing and therapeutic. The act of being in the moment without the nonstop distractions of societal life will allow my mind some ease and clarity as I ground myself through minimalism, nature, and movement.
That being said, I will have very long days out there with hardly any reprieve. So send me your podcast or audio book recommendations or a Spotify playlist so I can connect with you and stimulate my brain and heart some. I’ll be under somewhat of a narrow window to complete this beast of a trail because I’m starting late in the season and need to beat winter. Send me messages, or pictures or call me. I might be out of cell service for a while but I want to see and hear about your lives and what worries you and fills you up. I’m running away to the woods but love to have company whenever and however I can. I hope to write but I may not be as consistent about it as I have been in the past because I’m not sure I’ll have the time/energy if I’m pushing such long/hard days all the time.
The mountains are calling and I hope to find some peace, gentleness, strength and confidence while I’m hiking. I hope this reenergizes me for the unknowns that lie ahead around the blind corners of where life takes me.