The CDT: Pre-trail thoughts

Well, here we are again!

I am writing this while on a Greyhound bus headed along I-10 for Lordsburg, New Mexico, where Phil and I will catch a shuttle that will take us south to the Mexican border, a three-hour drive on dirt roads. There, tomorrow, we’ll begin our thru-hike of the Continental Divide Trail, which follows the Rocky Mountains from Mexico to Canada.

I’m actually having a hard time feeling excited about the hike right now, mostly because I am exhausted from the past few weeks of preparation and moving out of our house, and a little bit heart broken after saying goodbye to our animals, friends, and family yesterday. However, I know once we get out there, I’ll be excited.

Because of life obligations this fall, we have a shortened timeline for our hike, so we may not finish the full trail. The CDT is a route, not a single trail, and it is unfinished; thus, its length ranges anywhere from 2,500-3,100 miles. The trail traverses the Rockies by way of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana. It is far less popular and more remote than the other long distance trails in the U.S., and because of life obligations on the front end, we’re starting about 3 weeks later than most hikers. So, we may not see many people out there! image

Ever since we finished the PCT in 2014, I have longed to be back on a trail. Hiking the PCT was one of the best experiences of my life, and there is nothing that parallels the freedom, simplicity, and feeling of purpose and aliveness quite like thru-hiking. For a long time I felt that the PCT had “ruined” me for normal, indoor life, and that I would never be fully happy with a traditional life. I felt this way for about a year, but then, I started to feel myself softening to the comforts of a house, bed, car, income, and growing animal family.

Phil and I have been talking about doing the CDT for the past two years, constantly going back and forth, never fully committing nor backing down, weighing pros and cons and finances and jobs and life choices and future plans and still, after every conversation, never coming to a consensus. The indecision and questioning we have felt about doing this trail has been exhausting. How would we save enough money? What life/career/future goals did thru-hiking really accomplish? Why do we want to hike from Mexico to Canada again? How could we ever leave our animals? And, the biggest question for me: how does this hike fit into the part of me that wants to be a violinist? I am no stranger to this question – I’ve grappled with this conflict throughout my life, and am not even close to answering. How can I combine my loves of outdoor adventure and music, and pursue both at the level I’d like to? Thru-hiking and classical violin don’t exactly work in tandem with each other. Plus, for the past year, I have been transitioning towards a more violin-filled life, and perhaps eventually a career as a violinist.

The draw of the trail pulled us in. We decided that if we didn’t do it now, we might never do it. Life is just getting more complicated – it was wayyyyyy harder to make this hike work this year than it was for the PCT. I realized that I most likely would never regret taking the time to do this, but I may regret not doing it.

My way of attempting to reconcile my violin conflict is to bring a violin on our hike. A HUGE thank you to my dear friend Kim for lending me a violin, despite the knowledge that it may get ruined. I’ve fashioned a sort of stripped-down styrofoam version of a case, which I’ll attach to my pack. My goal is to practice at least a little bit every day. We’ll see how it goes.

I’m still not sure what form this blog will take, but I’ll try my best to post as much as possible. If you’re interested, follow the blog this summer and join us on this adventure!

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6 thoughts on “The CDT: Pre-trail thoughts

  1. Ah, we will miss you guys, but just like the PCT, it sounds amazing and I have no doubt the adventures will rival your previous trip. Not many of us are gutsy enough to make an adventure like this happen, so props to you both for doing it twice. I’m excited to follow your journey. Happy trails and we’ll see you in the fall!

  2. “Meow, and meow! We love you (and also tried tuna for the first time tonight), think of you every day, and wish you the best thru-hike in the universe. Love, Bruce Lee, Spiral and Dave.”

  3. First leg done! Way to go, you two. I trust the trail — such as it is — will get more interesting, more “scenic,” as you go further north. Jean and I follow your adventures with eagerness, with a little parental anxiety, and with enormous admiration for all you two do. Take good care of each other!

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