Continental Divide Trail 2015: Afterword

I finished the Continental Divide Trail two weeks ago. The last two weeks have been super hectic for me- the job and housing situation I had set up for after the trail fell apart, there was lots of shuffling from one place to another while I bought a vehicle/tried to figure out my life, and I got a super brutal cold that lasted for a week. Now I have a new job and a new place to live for the fall and I finally feel like I can breathe. So, time to reflect on my CDT hike! Which I’ve been sort of dreading. Because, to be honest, I didn’t love the CDT.

I wanted to love the CDT. But the CDT is hard to love- as another hiker put it, “This trail hates me and everyone who steps foot on it.” There are some beautiful sections on the CDT, but there are also many demoralizing sections. I’m going to write a more detailed post about this later, but for now, all I can say is that I didn’t love the CDT. And not for the reasons I expected. But I really, really wanted to.

I also had giardia for two months on this trail, and that really colored my experience. Maybe if I hadn’t been sick, this would’ve been my most favorite trail ever! The adventure of a lifetime! I really have no idea. Mostly I felt tired and sort of ill, and hiking felt like drudgery, with a few transcendental moments of joy and wonder thrown in. I hate to admit this- that I spent an entire summer hiking a trail and my heart just wasn’t in it. It feels taboo to say that- like I’m a failure as a hiker. But you know what? It’s fucking honest.

I love hiking. I love the PCT. I loved the Lowest to Highest Route. There are lots of other routes and trails I want to do. I’ve already started planning for them. I fucking love walking all day, overcoming challenges, and sleeping on the ground. But this was just not my summer. It feels weird to admit that.

It’s sunny and fall is here and I’ve started running again (it’s painful) and there are vegetables and absolutely everything and nothing is possible, all at once. I have a job and a place to live and dear friends to plan adventures with and even though the human world makes me feel like crawling into a hole to hide I know that it’s up to me, completely up to me, to make my own life and my own happiness and sometimes the pressure of that is so intense it feels like it will crush me. But it won’t.

Rihanna wrote this song abt the CDT, obvs: