You can’t change reality, but you can change your mindset. You can control your reaction, feelings and emotions.
I sat in my hotel room in Pagosa Springs with my CDT maps spread across the bed. My eyes followed the thin, red line of the CDT. I heard rumors that the trail ahead would be easier and less sketchy, but I wanted to see what clues my maps would reveal to me. How bad did this look? Did I really want to be up there again in snow? Sometimes, I could tell the trail would be safe, like sections where the trail followed a high plateau. But then my eyes would focus on sections where the trail followed next to a steep cliff. I tried to imagine what it would be like… Would it be dangerous again?
I asked myself:
. Did you enjoy the CDT in the last section?
Almost immediately, my legs started to shake in fear. The answer was painfully clear.
I stopped looking at the maps. I already had my answer.. It was time to follow a lower, safer route through Colorado. I would be safer and much happier following the alternate trail at lower elevation.
It ended up being a really enjoyable section for me. But, it was so quiet out there. I only saw 2 CDT hikers, on trail, between Creede and Twin Lakes. I tried to embrace the alone time. I don’t have to be surrounded by people for the entire trail. So I did my own thing, slept in, hiked late, and ran into plenty of moose along the way. I was safe, and I still had a continuous footpath.
I was happy.
I made it to Twin Lakes last Sunday, and Will came to pick me up. I decided to take a week off trail, so I could wait for my friends to catch up to me. It’s been nice to rest at home, and I have been eating so well this week!
I am excited about heading back to Twin Lakes soon, and hopefully, I will see more than 2 hikers in my next section. 🙂
Just a quick update to let everyone know that I made it to Colorado last night!! Of course, the trail is already getting significantly harder. Yesterday, I was lost in a maze of snow and blowdowns for most of the day. I would check my GPS, get back on trail, and almost immediately get lost again. In the snow, there is no trail. And trying to stay on trail is a pointless waste of time. My friend, who left after me, and mostly navigates with maps arrived at camp before me. I just looked at him when I rolled into camp at 9:15 and laughed. Sometimes, maps are just better than GPS. Or maybe I’m just completely hopeless. 🙂
I’m currently in Chama, NM and getting all geared up for the next section. I have added snowshoes, an ice axe, water-proof socks, microspikes and warmer layers. My pack is going to weigh a ton tomorrow, but I am excited to hike the snowy San Juans!
I have a feeling that I am in for the hardest 2 weeks of my life. I hope that I have what it takes.
Sorry for the short update, but a girl needs her sleep!!
PS: Thanks to Will/Estero for spending the weekend in Taos with me. Can’t wait to see you again soon! ❤
I wasn’t supposed to fall in love out here, but I couldn’t help myself. I met him on the CDT on my first night out of Grants, NM. His trail name was Miles, and he loved hiking. What was worse was that he had eyes that melted my heart.
Damnit. Not again. No no noooo.
The other day, I was hiking, and suddenly, the sky opened up and it started to hail. I looked up and smiled. The hail was a welcome relief from the constant sun and heat. I quickly pulled out my umbrella and kept walking without missing a beat.
I eventually caught up to my friend sitting under a tree. He was talking to an older gentleman– maybe mid 60s, who was dressed in a clean khaki outfit. The older man introduced himself to me as “Doug the Hermit” and told me that he had a cabin tucked away close by.
What?? A hermit? Really?? I had never met a hermit before, but somehow I envisioned black robes, and a long white beard. Maybe someone who looked like Gandalf or Santa Claus? Apparently, I was totally wrong!
Hanging out with Doug the Hermit
Doug told us that he was a Roman Catholic hermit and he had been living here, alone, for 18 years. He had friends in “the real world” and leaves his cabin once a year to get supplies. I kept asking him if he ever got lonely, and he would laugh and shake his head. He made it sound like he had plenty to occupy his time.. making meals, gardening, hiking, and praying. We kept asking him questions about his life… and then I asked him if his cabin had wifi and he laughed at me. Whoops, guess not. 🙂
My hiker friend and I had more miles to make, so we had to leave Doug. That night, I camped at the Gila River with 4 other hikers. And I kept thinking about Doug. And the more I thought about him, the more impressed I was with his religious hermitage. I have spent many nights camping, but what makes this whole adventure worth it is that I’ve shared these experiences with other people. And I admit, for me, sharing these moments and trails with other hikers makes it so much easier too. At times, my hiking experience is like a smelly slumber party with my best friends.
We have hiked across beautiful parts of New Mexico lately, and I can’t wait to see what Northern New Mexico has in store for us! Enjoy the photos!
If I had one word to sum up the CDT’s first 150 miles: Intense.
I started my hike on May 1st with 8 other hikers. I am slightly embarrassed to admit that the first 100 miles of trail completely kicked my butt! It was brutal hiking due to the constant sun exposure and heat. Unlike the PCT, the CDT desert is a nearly shadeless landscape. Everyday, I felt like an ant caught under a magnifying lens as I crawled to the next water source. It was painful, and I scolded myself for thinking negative thoughts.
I reminded myself: “There’s beauty in everything. Sometimes you just have to look deeper.” I tried to find beauty in the blooming cactus flowers, or the darting jack rabbits, but it was hard. As much as I tried to enjoy it, the first 100 miles suffocated me. It was beautiful, but I was too drained to fully enjoy it.
One day I literally sat in a water cache box for an hour because I was so hot, and it was the only shade in that area. On the CDT, you are forced to make things work because you literally have no other option. I sat in the box, drank lots of water, ate snacks, read the log book, and pushed on when I felt well again.
I have since mailed unneeded items up the trail to reduce pack weight, and I bought a silver hiking sun-umbrella to combat the exposure. I don’t do well in heat, and I’m going to carry that silly umbrella all the way to Canada!
The trail, and my attitude are both improving quickly. In the last 50 miles, the trail has climbed into the trees again. It feels amazing to be in a forest again! I have been hiking with a big goofy grin on my face. And constantly whispering “Thank You” to the trees.
I’m currently enjoying a stay at an Airbnb rental in Silver City, NM with a great group of fellow hikers. I think we all needed this break to regroup for the next stretch of trail.
Here are my favorite photos of the last 150 miles. Enjoy!!
PS: I won’t have good wifi for the next sections, so don’t be alarmed if you don’t hear much from me until further north 🙂