CouchtoCDT

Hiking the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) Northbound in 2013- sharing my preparation for the hike and my day to day experience while I'm on the trail. Inspiring people to follow their dreams.


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Section 2: Deming to Emory Pass

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A bum knee isn’t something to stop you from hiking, so I took off from the American Inn hotel after taking a day off to rest the knee.  I started out with a new knee brace from Walmart and enough food to make it through the next section.  The first 6 miles was a road walk through town towards an old non-working windmill outside of town, following the highway that had brought me into town.  I was still in high spirits, despite my aching knee, which I figure is just part of the experience.

Windmillin'

Windmillin’

The weather was hot walking out of Deming. I’ve learned that road-walking on the highway is not only fun from the steaming heat rising from the asphalt as it hits you in the face, but that most people don’t drive, they stare at their phones as they text, which is scary.  I was happy to leave the highway and start weaving through the residential streets north of Deming.  After about 7 miles I was outside of town and heading toward the broken windmill that was my first landmark on the map.  Once I found that, I was on my way to Spider Windmill. It had good water, but was also surrounded by the typical mounds of horse manure and whatnot.  The water was greenish with floaties, which I’ve become used to.  Its amazing how quickly you become used to something that normally you would look at and say, “I would never touch that.”

Leaving Spider Windmill I headed northwest to a non-functioning windmill and gate.  The map did not have rose on it so it was difficult to orienteer, but I took my best guess and started walking.  I thought it was odd to be going cross-country when the maps said there was a road, but I’m learning that in New Mexico, a “road” often isn’t really anything more than an obscure line in the dirt.  Admittedly, I got completely misplaced after about 2 miles, seeing no tracks or foot prints from the group of hikers who had left 2 days before me.  I was being hard on myself because at home I’d stare and stare at the maps. I thought I’d have a better idea of what to expect, but staring at them in the comfort of my home is completely different than actually being here.  I decided to sit down, drink some water, calm myself down and figure out where I was and where I needed to be going.  After about 15 minutes, I stood up high on a fence and spotted a shiny object about 3 miles to the west of me. I was convinced it had to be the non-functioning windmill and decided to go for it.  After an hour I reached it and the “heavy gate” that was supposed to be there.  Although I was relieved, I can say it was the lowest point of the trip so far.  I consider myself a good navigator, so getting lost 10 miles outside of town was disheartening.  It’s a real blow to your ego to get lost in a place you thought you had researched thoroughly.  I started feeling as though, if I had gotten lost here, how am I going to handle being in the middle of nowhere?  During my little pity party I saw 3 people walking toward the tank and figured they were other CDT hikers.  Immediately my mood changed and I was relieved when they finally got to the tank and I met Alarick, Abbey and Daniel, who were CDT hikers as well.  They sat down with me in the shade behind the tank and we started sharing stories of the trail. They were needing new shoes already and they shared some of their high and low points.  I have to admit it was great to be around other hikers and to hear they had been having trouble as well.  Swallowing my pride, I asked if I could hike with them and I was grateful when they said yes.  So now I was part of pack of CDT hikers and was very happy about it. We hiked together for a few more hours to the nicest windmill so far. There was good water and actual shade from a real tree, not just a big bush.

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Over the next couple of days we hiked together, leaning on each other for navigation, sharing food and having good laughs. We got misplaced the next morning, requiring us to go cross-country to get back on the actual trail.  Alarick and Abby had been suffering from severe blisters that looked horribly painful to walk on.  They were determined to keep going, though. They’re both strong hikers who definitely have a no-quit attitude.  Being from Seattle, they had done plenty of hiking and had decided to do the trail as a challenge, just as I had.  Daniel was from Austria and was on the CDT because he was debating between this trail and the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) and flipped a coin, which landed him here with me.  I was grateful to have the company.

Over the next couple of days we hiked from windmill to windmill, fighting the brutal New Mexico wind, full of sand that whips you in the face each and every moment of the day.  There is no escaping this wind… It is relentless. I don’t know how the people or the cows who live here handle it.  We met a local rancher with a weathered face. He was nice enough to inform (and scare the crap out of ) me by saying this area is home to 6 different types of rattlesnakes, of which the rancher explained, “If you get bit by one of thems Mojave rattlesnakes you might as well bend over and kiss your ass good bye, because there ain’ts no anti-venom for them.” Having already been hyper-aware of rattlesnakes, I was now even more worried about them.  According to the rancher, during this time of year they hang out in the afternoon, hiding behind rocks and biting people as they walk by.  Great.

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Hulk Hogan the Messiah?

Hulk Hogan the Messiah?

Over the next couple of days we traveled from the desert to the hills which had trees and shade for us to hide under.  We passed an abandoned house that looked like one day the owners just picked up and left. There were shoes, clothes, dishes and piles of National Enquirers laying around.  Its was a creepy place for us to take our afternoon siesta, but it was shaded and provided us with some good laughs thanks to the tabloids, which told of aliens, bat boy and how JFK is still alive.  The next day we got deeper into the hills and met with another hiker named Sunday who joined our group, as well.  It was fun hiking in a pack and hearing his stories from the thru hike of the PCT he completed last year.  We got misplaced again, which left us with a fun bushwack over two mountains and down several sketchy sections to get back to the trail.  Once back on the trail we headed toward our last water source, which was a spring that was 200 meters from a trail junction.  Well, that water was barely there, leaving the 5 of us only 1 liter of water each to make it the 7 miles to Emory Pass.  That night, tired and dehydrated, I dreamt of showers, pools and ice cold classes of water.  I’ve never dreamt of water before and got a taste of what it feels like to be severely dehydrated, wanting nothing more then to chug a bottle of water.

Emory Pass!

Emory Pass!

The next morning we reached Emory pass at 10 am. We held a sign reading NEED WATER, which fortunately worked because a kind person gave us half a gallon, which we split between the 5 of us.  Now it was time to get a hitch.  Alarick, Abby & Daniel held a sign that read HIKER TO TOWN, which got them a ride after about an hour of trying, leaving me and Sunday to get the next one.  We got a ride an hour later with a nice couple on their way back to Arizona.  They were a wonderful couple who drove us all the way to the Motel 6 where I stayed for the next two days resting my swollen right ankle.  I’ll be going back to Emory Pass tomorrow to start the next leg of this journey though Mimbres and on to Doc Campbell’s at the foot of the Gila River, which I’m very excited for.  So far I have been humbled by this experience and can’t wait to keep going because I’m loving the experience and want more!

HIKER TO TOWN

HIKER TO TOWN

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Section 1: Border to Deming

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Well, I’m finally here.  I’ve made it back to Deming after completing the first 56 mile section of the CDT.  Its been an amazing experience already and am happy that I’m out on the trail doing it.  I’m no longer dreaming, I’m doing.

My arrival into Deming was good because I had my family with me to wish me well for the trail and it was great to have everyone here.  At 8 am, Saturday April 20th, I was picked up by local trail angel Keith to take me down to the border.  He’s been helping hikers like me for many years and is great resource not just to get to the trail but for rides around town and to stash water for you as well.  On our way down, he showed me important intersections and introduced me to some of the people who I could take water from when I got there.  I encountered a great collection of local people with big smiles, great stories and colorful personalities.

Me and the trail angel.

Me and the trail angel.

On the border

On the border

After a 30 min drive we finally arrived on the border.  It’s not what you would expect from all that you hear on the news about it.  It’s pretty much a couple of buildings, a big long fence and streams of cars coming and going.  Keith talked to the border patrol to let us walk up to the international line to get some of the traditional pictures of me standing next to it and the plaque that all hikers want to get their picture next to. I wanted to take more pictures, but I was told that they will confiscate your camera if they think you are taking pictures of the government buildings and I certainly didn’t want that to happen to my new camera.  After some more pictures, I said goodbye to Keith and started walking.  I have to admit, as soon as I started walking I started to cry.  I was overcome with joy that I had set a goal for myself to hike the CDT and here I was actually doing it.  It was a powerful feeling to be doing something that I had sacrificed so much to be able to do.  It’s an amazing feeling that I hope everyone might get to experience in their life, and I know that I will never forget it for as long as I live.

The long road...

The long road…

The first 56 miles is walking mostly on 4×4 roads back to Deming.  First was the town of Columbus, which looks like an old abandoned mining town that has no reason to be there.  Oddly, there are a bunch of people driving around in really nice trucks but houses are ugly, so it makes you wonder what kind of business they are in…. just sayin’. I passed by a older lady in Columbus who was watering a couple of trees and she waved over to me and said ” I hope your having a great day” and I stopped and waved back at her and said “Yes, I’m having a great day”.  She looked so happy and I was happy for her.  About 1 mile outside of Columbus I walked up to a border patrol car that was out looking for a pair of illegals who had walked around the border fence.  According to the border patrolman there aren’t that many illegals crossing in this area because the land is very harsh south of here; you mostly get illegal drug activity.  I told them I hadn’t seen anyone.  Honestly, had I run into them I would have probably just helped them any way I could, and wished them well on their journey.  Being an immigrant myself, I can’t talk bad about someone else trying to make a better life for themselves in a new country.

On my first day I walked about 15 miles total, following a fence and then a 4×4 road to my first water cache that was not easy to find.  Since I decided to not use GPS on this trip, I didn’t have a waypoint to plug in, only a dot I had made with my pencil indicating the general area of the water cache.  I was happy to find it 30 mins before sundown where I made camp to get out of the 40 mph winds that had been hitting me all day.  The sun, wind and sand takes a toll on your body that you don’t realize until you’re out here.

Morning, April 22nd

Morning, April 22nd

Day 2 brought a gorgeous sunrise that made me feel ready to tackle my first full day on the CDT.  I packed up quickly eating my typical 2 Clif Bars for breakfast, as I walked the 3 miles to Willie’s house where I could get water.  Willie was an old Vietnam Vet who has been helping hikers for many years, giving them as much water as they need.  After chatting with him for a few minutes and taking just over a gallon of water I started the 10 mile cross country walk to the back side of the Florida Mountains.  I was certain I would see plenty of rattle snakes during this section, but I didn’t see any, which was fine with me because I hate snakes. I’ll be happy if I don’t run into any this entire trip.

Moooo.

Moooo.

Nasty.

Nasty.

My only water source out here is the water provided by the wind mills that are for the cows.  So most of the water sources I found either smelled of cow poo or were swarming with bees.  I know that I have to drink out of these disgusting troughs but I can be a little picky when I know there are more options ahead.  To treat this water I have both Aqua Mira and a Sawyer filter system and this is the only way I’m drinking any of this water.  I finally found some good water towards the end of my day and decided to stay the night there because my right knee had started hurting pretty badly.  My knees had never hurt before on hikes so I didn’t want to push it and hurt myself early on this trip.  I setup camp and watched the sun set over the vast horizon with its stream of reds, oranges and pink.  For a place that has very little, it shows off a lot.

On my third day I was happy to be heading towards Deming and getting out of the wind.  I had only about 18 miles to go to get to town and 3/4th of that was road walking which doesn’t take much time.  I walked through the Florida gap to another trail angel that let me take water from their hose which was much better than the water I had gotten from the tank the day before.  After tanking up there and taking about 2 liters with me I made the final road walk back to Deming.  I’ve decided to take a zero day (no hiking) at the American Inn Motel which is only $39 a night to let my very sore knee rest.  I have had to make changes to my plan after hearing that the resupply in Mimbres is no longer there, forcing me to do a 8 day carry to Doc Campbells versus the 3 days I had planned for.  I’ll head to the local Walmart and get some food for this next long carry.

All things considered, I feel great and am excited to finally be out here walking the CDT.  I’m already enjoying my time on the trail and am looking forward to putting in even more miles.  I have to stay focused on staying hydrated and injury-free so I can make it to the end.  Now I’m off to get some good local Mexican food, because it can’t get any more authentic than this! 🙂

Welcome to New Mexico!

Welcome to New Mexico!


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Here we go

Keys

No more need for these

I was sitting at my desk talking with my coworker about the weekend when all of a sudden a bat comes out of nowhere and hits me in the head.  I’m stunned and awakened at the same time wondering what the hell just happened.  Stars invade my eyes, sweat starts to pool on my forehead and my mind is a fog.  What just happened?  That was life bashing me in the head, telling me to stop complaining and to start doing.  My doing was hiking the CDT and here I am.  Today, April 18th I pick up my pack, load up the car and start driving down to Deming, NM to start my journey on the CDT this Saturday.  It can happen just like that.

It’s taken me a year to get to this point.  A year to plan, save and prepare to hike the 3,000 miles across the Spine of America to Canada, where who knows who will show up.  I know it will be me but, definitely not the same me.  Over the last year I’ve gone through so many up and downs along the way.  Over the last 2 months I’ve been challenged, but you know what…  I’m still standing.  I’m still here.  What some people call the “Universe” has not stopped me.  It’s made me do some weaving and bobbing but I’m still standing.

Today when I woke up I took my last shower, made my last breakfast and looked around my living room for the last time.  I dropped my keys on the counter because I won’t need them anymore.  All I will need is my pack on my back, shoes on my feet and a compass to point the way.  Am I scared- hell yes.  Am I excited- most definitely. Do I know that I’m doing the right thing?  YES.  I know I will make it because I have the will and the drive to make it and nothing will stop me.  So here we go.

Now what are you going to do?  You don’t have to do something like hike the CDT but tell me what will you do over the next 5 months that will scare you and make you change?  Write in the comments below and let me hear it.  Say what you are going to do and tell me why.  Sometimes writing it down is all that you need to motivate you.

What will you do???

What will you do???


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New gear for the trail

I’ve picked up some new pieces of gear for my trip.  I don’t usually buy very much gear, but after years of using the same equipment it was time for something new.

Motorola Droid Razr Maxx HDMotorola Droid Razr Maxx HDThis is the newest phone I’ve had in 3 years and I’ve made the move from my beloved iPhone to a Droid.  The transition from an iPhone to a Droid is quite a change, but I wanted something that had a large storage capacity.  It comes with 32GB internal memory, with a microSD slot to extend it to 64GB.  All Droid phones have a built in GPS so I will be able to find my location on the built-in maps if I get completely lost.  It has a 3,300 mAh battery, which is the biggest on the market right now, giving me plenty of battery life.  The phone also lets me load up all of my documents, such as my data book of waypoints, my master excel spreadsheet of my trip that includes town stops and other vital information.  My microSD cards will hold lots of Dharma talks, audio books and music.

Enlightened Equipment Revelation 20 degree Quilt:Revelation-Product-500x500  I’ve been sleeping under a quilt for a couple of years and like them much better then sleeping bags.  They are not only lighter in weight, but also more versatile.  I ordered this custom quilt from this cottage industry company because I wanted something wider (58”), longer (6’6”) and 20 degrees of toasty down.  I couldn’t be happier with it.  It’s super warm, packs down small and gives me the coverage I wanted.

Hyperlite Mountain Gear 3400 Windrider Pack:Windrider 3400   This is my first new pack in many years.  They are one of my sponsors and make packs that are pretty sweet.   It’s made of Cuben Fiber which is lightweight, but very durable.  Its going to hold all the things that I will need for my hike, hugging my hips with a wrap around hip belt and the thick shoulder pads will treat me right.  The 3 outside mesh pockets will hold all of my immediately needed items and my shelter, so it can dry in the sun after it rains and provide me with a nice warm and dry home at the end of the day.  It’s internal stays will keep form to the pack when fully loaded, but the straps will let me cinch it down when not fully loaded.

nomad7Goal Zero Nomad 7:  As I mentioned in a previous blog post, I’ll be carrying more electronics during this trip then I ever have before.  All of these electronics will need to be charged somehow and this lightweight solar panel (.8 lbs) will charge my cell phone and my Petzl Tikka Core headlamp, all by USB cable.  It’s the lightest and most powerful solar panel, charging my cell phone in 2-4 hours and my headlamp in 1 hr.  Some would say you can charge it in town but, since I’ll be using my phone frequently for navigation, blogging, journaling, videos and some photos I think it’s worth its weight.

Suunto CoreSuunto Core A good watch is indispensable on the trail.  Not only does it tell time, but this watch accurately tells you your elevation and includes an elevation gain/loss log. It also has a barometer with storm indicator and weather trends, a loud alarm and a compass that is very accurate.  At $299, this watch isn’t cheap, but for the rich features and the durability that Suunto watches is known for, I think it was a great investment.

Gossamer Gear ‘The One’:  gossamer-gear-the-oneAgain this was provided by one of my sponsors, but this tent is great.  It uses two trekking poles instead of actual poles and is completely enclosed in mesh, with a bathtub floor and a vestibule to keep my pack and shoes dry.  It’s the right length to stretch out in, with a high enough apex to sit up in, comfortably, and a quick setup after you’ve set it up a couple of times.  This shelter will keep me nice and warm during the high winds, rain and snow that will inevitably hit me on the trail.

New Balance Leadville 100’sLeadville 100 These shoes are made for the crazy 100 miles race that is held in Leadville each year.  I don’t know how someone can run 100 miles in 24 hours but, if this is the shoe for them, then it should be able to take me across the country comfortably.  The shoes, themselves, are light (10.3 oz pair). They have a synthetic/mesh upper which will allow them to breathe, drain and dry out quickly when wet, and a great Vibram sole that will last.  The shoes I ordered are larger then I usually wear, but as I hike my feet will swell.    I’ve been breaking in the 2 pairs that I’ve bought already and they are very comfortable and I believe they will get me to the end.

Delorme InReachdelormeThis device will allow me to communicate with the outside world.  It’s just like the popular Spot system, but with much more features.  It will let me connect with all of you by sending text messages, and Facebook and Twitter updates .  In case of an emergency, like breaking my leg or being attacked by Bigfoot, it will let me send out a SOS message to get help.  A nice feature of this system is that I can communicate through text using my phone to say exactly what is wrong with me.  The Delorme system also allows me to drop ‘breadcrumbs’, creating a track of my hike that will be updated every hour, giving my followers the ability to know where I am each hour through a link that will be posted on my site.  Honestly, this is mostly for my family and friends for worst case scenarios, but if it gives them piece of mind, that’s good enough for me.


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Mapping the CDT- Jonathan Ley Interview

Jonathan Ley with fellow thru hiker Erin "Wired" Saver  holding his maps

Jonathan Ley with fellow 2013 CDT thru hikers, Drop-N-Roll & Erin “Wired” Saver holding his maps

Anybody that has hiked the CDT since 2002 has more than likely had in their hands a map created by Jonathan Ley.  He is the man who has brought the mystery of the CDT to life, with his wonderful maps that he provides for free to any dreamer or thru hiker who requests them.  Those in the hiking world have heard his name before, but few have ever met him.  I’ve already spent hours, if not days, looking at his maps in preparation for my hike, so I wanted to learn more about the man whose maps would guide me across this country on the Divide.

Jonathan Ley grew up in the suburbs of Chicago, getting very little exposure to the outdoors except for the daylong drives to a place that you could consider “wild”.  It wasn’t until he moved to Seattle that he started getting exposed to the mountains and public lands that surround the area. This was when he first started falling in love with the outdoors and the world that it opened up.  After working a job that wasn’t exactly fulfilling his needs, he decided on a whim to hike the PCT in 1999, even though he had very little hiking experience under his belt just yet.   He learned a lot on the PCT by “trial and error” and felt that the trail was not something he wanted to do, but had to do.

After completing the PCT he spent the next year just hanging out around Seattle until a couple of friends suggested to him that he should hike the CDT with them.  The other friends ended up bailing for one reason or another but he decided to go ahead and hike the trail, anyway.  It was during this time that he started mapping out the trail that we now have available to us.  The CDT was an amazing experience for him.  When asked how the CDT compares to the PCT he says “I just felt it was ’more‘… more miles, more spectacular stuff, more boring stuff, more roads, more flat, more steep, more extreme weather… the PCT was very consistent, but the CDT varied quite a lot”.  He learned a lot on the trail, and had no real huge problems other then a wrong turn here or there and a lost camera during a hitch in New Mexico.  A few of his favorite sections were Glacier, The Winds, Southern San Juan’s, Gila River and the nameless sections in ID/MT, as well as some warm night hikes in New Mexico.  A few of his favorite trail towns include Grand Lake CO, Dubious WY, Ghost Ranch, NM, Silver City, NM, East Glacier, MT and Leodore, ID.  When he gets to town he goes for the usual hiker’s grub: pizza, beer and ice cream, even though he wishes he could say fresh fruit and salad.

When he compares the trail today vs. then, he feels that the trail is more known to the locals and there are many more hikers on the trail today than ever before.  As has often been said, no two people hike the same trail. This is as true today as ever, with more segments of actual trail existing vs. having to go cross-country.  It is up to you to decide which way you want to go on the trail.

The Maps

When Jonathan first started producing the maps and sending them out he was getting only about a dozen or so people asking for them each year.  As the number of hikers has increased each year, and the trail has become more well known, the number of requests has grown to 200-300 per year.  He says he gets a good mix of people ordering the maps; everything from a 15-year-old kid, to a person going for his triple crowner.   Everyone gets treated the same way regardless of what your desired use of the maps are and you can expect the same level of help as well.   As the requests for the CDs has grown, so has people’s generosity.  He hasn’t run the numbers but as he says “I might be lucky to be making minimum wage at this… but it’s fun and keeps me connected to the trail & hiking community”.   He does get some strange requests from people who miss the point of the maps, such as those people who want to drive the trail or even bike it.  The funniest requests are from people who think his site is about some software program called the CDT, leaving him messages on technical support for some really arcane coding questions.

He keeps the maps updated through the help of fellow hikers.  In a typical year he will get around 10-20 people submitting updates of various details.  There are usually 2-4 people who submit very detailed updates on the whole trail, which is great, but this can have it’s downsides.  It can be difficult when he gets conflicting feedback which forces him to use his own judgment on what to change or what not to.  Eventually he hopes that the maps will be like a big wiki-map, which the community updates and maintains.  He doesn’t see the technology for that just yet.  He does see the value of a single editor because there are so many notes and conflicting changes that it could turn into one big mess if not managed properly.

My mess organizing the maps

My mess organizing the maps

Bear Creek Maps, Updates and Best Practices

With the arrival of the Bear Creek maps created by Jerry Brown, you would think that there might be some competition going on, but, as Jonathan says “I’m glad they’re out there.  My philosophy is that the best thing for the CDT is more hikers -some of whom later become great advocates for the trail.  Footsteps are the lifeblood of the trail, and it will only die from a lack of them.  So, if people are able to have a great time using the Bear Creek maps, then great”.  He sees the maps complimenting each other. The Bear Creek maps only follow the designated route, whereas his maps offer many different options which hikers can follow, to change things up.  I appreciate the alternative routes, such as starting from Columbus, which is where I will be starting.  Also, as anyone who has read the maps knows, he likes to add some “personal flourishes” in the notes, giving people a couple of perspectives to choose from.

When asked what’s new for 2013 he adds “quite a bit of small stuff that all adds up to a lot”.  Sections in Montana that hadn’t been updated for years saw a lot of new updated notes in 2013.  Also he’s been trying to update the source of the USGS scans from the previous old versions to the newer ones. They’ve stopped publishing the traditional maps, so now they’re only available in digital format today.

A best practice for his maps can be summed up as “STAY FOUND.”  It’s not only the best two words of advice that he’s ever heard but also the title of the book that he recommends hikers read.  He says, “You should always know where you are on the maps.”  He suggests you navigate “to the next landmark or what’s happening in the next mile or so to the next stream crossing, trail junction, ridgeline… and when you get there, pick out the next landmark.  This way, you greatly reduce your chances of getting misplaced.”

GPS, what makes a successful thru hiker and the future of the CDT

I had to ask what some of his most frequent questions are and he told me:  Why don’t you put the maps up for download?  Do you have a GPS track?  Are you still doing this?  Regarding GPS, he has said several times, and notes on his website, that a GPS is not a mandatory item on the CDT.  Jonathan’s thoughts about GPS are that “plenty of people have hiked the CDT without one and had no problems.  If you’re not a great navigator, a GPS can be helpful but it can also be a crutch, that you’ll remain a poor navigator.  It just depends on what you want out there.”  If your’re trying to save ounces and want one less thing to charge up, he thinks you can leave the GPS behind.

I always like to ask people what makes them successful on hikes or large trips that they take, and Jonathan feels that it’s all about how you deal with adversity.  You need to understand that your plans are going to change constantly, over and over again.  You need to stay determined and keep the larger goal at the front of your mind.  He reminds me that “there can be some really sucky days out there, but you just have to remember the big picture, and that things get better.”

What does the future hold for the CDT?  He thinks it looks pretty good as far as hikers and the exposure the trail gets from those that hike it.  He does see a lot of the environmental and political pressure the trail faces because it is so remote, with no large population centers near it, unlike the Appalachian Trail (AT).  He believes the trail could use a “really active organization to help advocate for it.  Someone who has the ear of the local landowners & government agencies to make sure the trail doesn’t get paved over or worse.”  He believes that people like Jim Wolf have been great advocates for the trail for many years and he appreciates what they have done.  He’s happy to see hikers forming advocacy groups such as the CDTC and hopes that “some hiker from 2013 will make the CDT their mission in life”.  Who knows, maybe someone out there reading this post will heed his call.

What’s next for Jonathan?  He continues his tireless effort to keep his maps updated but he also spends time taking pictures, which he learned to love while out on the CDT.  He calls all of his photography equipment his ‘luxury’ items on the trail, joking that it weighs more than most people’s entire kits.  When asked what he would do with 5 months of free time, he thinks of places like Nepal or a proposed trail the length of the Andes in Chile, which he thinks would be spectacular.

We all go on adventures to help us change our lives and the CDT became one of those things for Jonathan.  He is the true definition of an advocate and ‘Trail Angel’ because he helps all of us who either hike the trail each year, or those of us who dream of it.  I hope that I can do a fraction of what Jonathan has done for the CDT.  We all owe him some gratitude for everything he has done, so please send him a note saying ‘Thank you’ because he is a true friend to all of us, especially the trail.

 

Check out Drop-N-Rolls Trail Journal and Erin “Wired” Saver Journals 


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34

Tomorrow is my Birthday.  I’m going to be 34 years old.

Birthdays are always the time that you start reflecting on life and what you’ve accomplished so far and what you still want to accomplish before your next one.  I can say that this will be one of my best birthdays ever because I told my self last year that I would be a more evolved person next year.  I can say that I’ve accomplished it.  I’m 60 lbs. lighter, stronger and more determined then ever.  I have also done something which you might not think is good, but I have scared the shit out of myself.  I have changed my life drastically and I am flipping out.  I have no real residence, no job, no income, no car and all of my belongings fit into 8 large Tupperware bins.  Funny thing is, that this will probably be one of the best years of my life.

It hasn’t been an easy year by any means and the last month has tested my resolve like none other.  It’s challenged me to see if I’m really committed to the big trip and the change of lifestyle I have for the next 5 months and beyond.  Where will I be this time next year??  Who knows but I know for certain that I will keep living, keep dreaming and then keep doing.  A dream is just that, a dream, unless you put it into action.

For this birthday, I wish happiness for me, my family and for all of you.  I want all of you to go out there and hug someone you love, call a friend instead of sending him or her a Facebook message and do something good for another person.  Do good.  Because this time next year I will be a different person… who will you be?