Boulder Colorado – We were sitting in the room, watching a movie and deciding where to get dinner. For a moment I was confused at what we were doing, what I was doing. Why am I not hiking? We had left the trail in Pagosa Springs, rented a car and drove 305 miles to Boulder. My friend whom I met on trail was injured after sliding down an ice shoot and he needed some time off of the trial to take care of his wounds. As the mountains passed us by blanketed in deep white snow, it was clear to me that we had made it to Colorado too early. Being off of the trail and no longer making progress, my motivation began to wane. This disruption in momentum really played a roll in my ultimate decision to leave the trail completely. Though I was still having a good time, I wasn’t having a good time hiking, because I wasn’t hiking at all. I thought to myself, “This doesn’t feel like a thru-hike at all.” The seed was planted and I swiftly made my way home to Washington. That was the end of my thru-hike in 2017.
Home – I had worked so hard to get to 2017 and be debt free. After my PCT thru-hike in 2015 I made it a goal to be debt free before my next thru-hike. I never thought that would come to fruition. Before I left I pressed enter and transferred amounts to completely pay off my remaining debt. I had sold my car, ending the lien. Though I was ultimately disappointed in my decision to leave the CDT so easily, I was free. I spent 3 months hiking all over the place, visited a friend in Arizona, met some amazing people along the way and created some long lasting memories. The hard part was being home and thinking about the trail. Next season was so far away. None the less I am hiking again in 2018. Most likely South bound on the CDT starting in June and North bound on the Arizona trail in the Spring.
To wrap it up I will leave you with this. If you are going on a long hike and you worked really hard to get there. Make sure you stay focused on you and your desires to be on that trail. I found that exploring the side trail stuff was great, though ultimately I spent way too much time off of the trail which made it feel more like a road trip or site seeing tour, rather than a long hike. Maybe I was not paying attention to the entire experience but for me I didn’t want my CDT thru-hike to feel that way. I had an opportunity to hike the CDT before it becomes really popular, blazed and finished. I wanted to experience something more raw than a defined pathway of mindless walking (which is great in its own right.) Side trail activities are in itself a little adventure, but keep them to a tight time limit and budget. I don’t regret going off trail to explore the cities and towns near the trail, places I would probably not have gone to if I wasn’t so close to them on the trail. But in the end I would have liked to have seen a little less town time than hiking time. Once again, this is why I left the trail. I am out there to walk and challenge myself physically and mentally. I want to reconnect to nature and the geography, distractions of the latter side clouded my judgments and ultimately changed and effected my experience. Stay true to the thru and especially you. Enjoy these photos from the trail.