629.5 miles hiked from Mexico
The clouds burn pink at sunset and then darker clouds roil in, thunder, and then the wind picks up and the sky dumps. I’m in my shelter, which I accidentaly set up facing the wind and I spend some time trying to keep out the water, finally the storm passes and I get to go to sleep. I wake up cold to weak light and birds chirping. Morning? I extricate myself to pee and find the moon, a bright heavy spotlight and the birds, going crazy. What is this? What strange planet am I on?
Actual morning finds me groggy but the slow process of caffeination between the hours of six and ten a.m. (hot tea with breakfast, espresso chocolate, more hot tea when we yardsale our things in the sun to dry) brings me closer and closer to Peak Hiking Morale, and then I’m there and I’m walking all day through this alpine wonderland of damp green grass and yellow dandelions and fluttering aspens with their small new leaves and in the distance there are peaks with snow on their caps, and soon we’ll be in a place like that! And what will that be like? I’m excited, very very excited, and also grateful for the basic mountaineering experience I got last winter. I know how to use an ice-axe. I have experience with self-arrest, both via practice and for real. And with crampons. Basic mountaineering stuff. And I’ll be breaking trail with great friends who I trust, and we’ll have snowshoes. We’re all good navigators. Ahhh I can’t wait.
All day we hike freestyle through the mountains, following a mess of dirt roads that start and stop and fade away into grassy meadows and which may or may not be the actual trail. We just kind of go where we want, cutting cross-country when we feel like it. It’s very freeing. The CDT is very freeing. In the afternoon I’m hiking alone through the dewey fields full of corn lillies and I feel almost euphoric- I was talking to Spark yesterday about how I never want to go back to the “real” world and he said “This is the real world.” Now walking through these woods I suddenly and for certain know that this is true- there’s so much “noise” in the human world and we take this noise inside of us and hold it there. But today I’ve managed to let that noise go, today I am free. The CDT has got me feeling freer, in this sense, than any trail I’ve done. And maybe it’s not the trail itself but my own personal evolution. Less and less I want a real bed, or pop culture, or to check my email, or a different set of clothes to change into. All I need, really, is the ground to sleep on and some ok water to drink. I just want to walk all day and eat the same boring foods, over and over, until something like a picnic table or a sunny field to dry my stuff in after a storm fills me with euphoria. I’m telling you- this is it, people.There’s nowhere else to go.
The end of the day finds us on the outskirts of a campground next to a lake, although we can’t see the lake. We make our dinners and tell stories until the temperature drops and we are forced into our sleeping bags. The moon is almost full and soon it will rise, filling the woods with alien light. I sleep.
Photos on instagram