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SlowBro - Continental Divide Trail Journal - 2021

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Mark "SlowBro" Hurd
City: Eugene
State: OR
Country: USA
Begins: Aug 2, 2021
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Thu, Sep 2nd, 2021
Daily Distance: 0
Trip Distance: 350.6

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 97
Journal Visits: 4,906
Guestbook Views: 127
Guestbook Entrys: 15

Continental Divide Trail Map

(Click image for full size)

Goodbye CDT

Hiking The Continental Divide Trail

I started thinking about hiking the CDT back in 2013. Having never done a long trail, indeed having never hiked more than 7 miles in a day at that time, I was advised by my son to pick something easier. It was sage advice and still is.

The CDT is long and hard and ill-defined. It is plagued with fires and storms and blowdowns and roadwalks and long water carries. It is often unmarked and steep and gnarly. It is frequented by ATVs, motorcycles, poisonous snakes, mountain lions, black bears, grizzly bears, and maybe even wolves. If the CDT was a person, they would be complicated, fierce, and unpredictable. Not someone you would necessarily pick for a relationship.

And yet, for the last four years, I've had an intimate relationship with the CDT. From the first tentative steps in the desert of New Mexico to the long climb out last Saturday that ended the affair, it has been a doozy. A roller coaster relationship if there ever was one. I have alternately been in love with this trail and hated it. Sometimes both at the same time.

And for those that find my analogy strained, you are wrong. Committing to a long trail is very much like committing to a relationship. (For purposes of exposition I will use the female pronouns, but substitute your personal preference as needed.)

First you become aware of the CDT. You hear rumors and talk to people that have had a fling with her. You start thinking of her a lot. You imagine the long walks as a couple. You fantasize about your nights together. In short you are infatuated with this trail. Maybe you spend a few days with her, a kind of test run. And eventually you commit to a life with her, at least for a few weeks or months. You plan and plan and count the days and finally you join her and start the journey.

She has many suitors, but you don't care. Your relationship is special. You pour over maps and learn her every curve. Of course there is some rocky trail and times of great stress. She makes you sweat one moment and chills you to the bone the next. She is fickle and capricious, hard as a rock and soft as a down sleeping bag. You live with her day and night for weeks and months. Sometimes you leave, but you always come back. Sometimes she disappears, but then you find her again. Some days she trys to kill you and others she saves your life. You travel together for millions of steps, thousands of miles, and months of time. You learn her secrets and discover yourself. Finally the day comes, the day you have been both yearning for and dreading. The day she is done with you. The day you finish.

People have always expected me to be euphoric when I complete a trail. To raise a glass to an accomplishment and celebrate a victory. And there is an element of that, but it is also the end of a relationship. Sometimes shes been your worst enemy, but often shes your best friend, this trail. So the end of a trail is always bittersweet for me. A love lost. A partnership ended.

So here's to you CDT. You taught me much. May you never be tamed.

(This is the last blog of this hiking season. Over the next couple of months I will be deciding on next year's hike, maybe the AT, and start blogging about that in the Dec. time frame. So check back around the beginning of December.)

Stay safe and Happy Trails

Entry 52 of 52
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Journal Photo

SlowBro's Continental Divide Trail Journey

"I can't say as ever I was lost, but I was bewildered once for three days." -Daniel Boone

"The Journey IS The Reward" -SlowBro

"If you feel like quitting, just keep walking." -Gypsy Spirit


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