Heart and Matter

I’ve been incredibly sick and warring with myself a lot these days, about what I want the blog to look like while I’m on this hiking-hiatus-turned-driving-extravaganza, about what I want the blog as a whole to accomplish. I’ve been writing and writing the last few months, and I can’t help but feel that, in a sense, I’ve lost my way. It’s not that I don’t feel some connection to place and space and movement through this amazing opportunity I’ve been given; it’s not even that I’m unhappy, or that I don’t want to talk about what I’m doing or how I’m feeling. It’s just that I only have so much energy in a given day, and I think that energy would be better put to use in different ways.

So I’m going to change it up a little bit.

Some weeks, that energy is going to be best used talking about the cool trips I’m taking – for example, we’re going to get the chance to do three nights and four days of hiking on Isle Royale, and that is gonna be epic, and I’m already excited to share the experience. Other weeks – well, you know all those things that I’ve said I want to get back to, but haven’t? I think those things are important, and particularly important to me as a black woman outdoors, and I think that having my documentation of my week take precedence leaves me little and less energy for those important things. So I’m going to talk about being outdoors, and about myself in a tangential way – about what I see in the outdoors world and the outdoors community, and about what these things mean to me as a black female once and future thruhiker who wants everyone to get outdoors and care for our wild spaces.

I’m still going to (try to) post once a week. I’ll still be documenting mileage and talking about the cool stuff that’s happened in a Notable Accomplishments format, one that those of you who’ve joined me on my PCT and CT thruhikes will be familiar with. And of course I’ll still be posting rad pictures from the week, because I hope they speak to you as much as they speak to me. But I’m tired of skimming the surface. This format is going to let me go deeper into issues and events and occurrences that I think are important. It’s going to let me skip the things that are less-formative and cut to the heart of a matter, laugh about happenstance, or show you something awesome that happened.

So here goes. First one up later this weekend.

Interlude: Consumption

I’ve been consuming a lot lately. Well, maybe not food, like I probably should be – I’m doing a surprising number of miles for living out of a Subaru, and I’ve likely spent the last week sore as a result of not eating enough. I’m not good with food. But I have a really hard time keeping myself from gorging on social media, mainly to keep up with people I care about, but also to indulge in that singular masochism that is reading the news.

And there has been so much news of late. Too much news to really recount. Continue reading

Miles 1394-3333.33: Open Road

I wake up to the bubbling voices of my coworkers/compatriots, but as I’m wont to do on mornings where we’ll be departing, I spend the first bit of the morning packing everything up – all I’ll have to do is have my coffee, say goodbye, and then Spesh and I are off on the solo part of our adventure. By the time I’m satisfied with the progress I’ve made, I zip open the tent to find that I’m alone, all the cars gone but ours. Um.

Continue reading

Colorado Rockies Ruck: Full Docket

Friday morning, I’m just settling into my to-do list and I get a call – it’s my new employer, wanting to know if I’m available to pick up some more work. Mama need to make dat skrilla, so yes, yes I am available. When I arrive, settle into the scope of the project, I fear I may have bitten off more than I can chew; the work’s certainly entertaining enough, but having picked it up in the middle of doing things it goes a lot more slowly than I would like. 14 hours later, I regret everything – it’s 2:30am, and I’ve got the Rockies Ruck tomorrow. And by tomorrow, I mean I need to be up in four hours. Hoo boy. Here we go. Continue reading

Wrap-Up – No Hiker Is An Island

On Friday – after all the heartfelt congratulations and folks who’d never commented before coming out of the woodwork to thank me for writing – it occurred to me that I hadn’t done any formal thank yous for folks who helped me along my hike. Without your support, encouragement, and willingness to take a chance on a stranger, my hike wouldn’t have been what it was, or meant nearly as much to me. So without further ado, I’d like to thank:

Backpacker Magazine and Mountain Hardwear, for making the whole hike possible and providing me with gear that didn’t quit over the course of 2650 miles.

Altra, for making magical shoes and giving me a super shiny hat, gaiters, shoes to give away, and a badass prototype to try out.

Snorkel, for lighting the way and lighting a fire under me, reminding me one should never say never.

Dirty Girl, for her wondrous dirtiness, badass gaiters, and unflagging support.

Carrot, for being a super-supportive badass and giving this aspiring writer something to aspire to.

My parents for being supportive, even though they had their concerns, and my family for calling me crazy with smiles on their faces.

Spesh, for holding down the fort in my absence.

Halfmile, Guthook, the PCTA, and all the Trail Crews for keeping me on trail and making the walk as smooth as possible.

The trail angels I met along the way:
From the folks willing to even have a conversation despite my smell,
To folks willing to take a chance on a hiker-hitchhiker, like Patty and Russ, who picked me up on the side of the road and took me out of their way to or from an off-trail stop,
To friends like Butch and Harue, who drove two hours out of their way to make sure I had a good town day,
To folks like the Andersons and the Saufleys, who open up their homes/yards to a crazy bunch of misfits with a single dream every year, and also like Bill and Kelsey, who decided on a whim to put up a stranger.

My Class of 2016 extended hiker family, including but not limited to, and in no particular order, Pineapple, Undercover, A Game, Sprinkles, Homegrown, Outro, Yoda, Evac, U-Turn, Wolf, Spaceman, Flaming Hot, Meerkat, Six, Cookie Scrambler, Blackout, Moses, Big Spoon, Toggle, Zippee, Jazzus, Mixed Rice, Heatwave, Fuckit/Still Alive, Mama Lion (& Boone!), Roadrunner, Hammer, Shaka, Mozart, Sterling, Todd, Strider, Sweetheart, Lapsang, Skittles, Stork, Suds, Bear Sweat, Tuff Broad, Lost & Found, Powder, Schweaty Balls, Bleu Cheese, Smiles, Dilly Dally, Donger, McG, Juicy and everyone else I shared snack breaks with, camped with, and enjoyed moments with. Y’all made the pain worth the pleasure of your company.

The folks who donated to my Big City Mountaineers fundraiser, including:
Schrauf, Roxanna Roddy, Bruce Gillman, Tess Helgren, Lauren Scanlan, Ryan McEwan, Ben Schumacher, George Turner, Madman Ralph, Butch & Harue & Map & Compass, Krissi, Sean Teague, Kurt & Anna, CB, S Swansen, LaTanya Corbett-Mathis, Bailey & Anita, Katie B, Coffeebeans, Dave & Judy Chordas, Worth Baker, Nora Ni Dhomhnaill, April Sloan, Christine Hardin, Anna Mayenschein, Liz Thomas, Jesse, Mikey, Ms. Kim, Georgia Turner, Al Werner, Griff, and all you magical Anonymous donors. Thanks for helping to get urban youth outdoors!

And, last but certainly not least, all of you, dear readers – and all the folks I’m sure I’m forgetting – for liking commenting laughing crying caring about one Brown Girl’s journey from Mexico to Canada. Thank you all for making my hike – and all the writing that’s gone along with it – one of the best things I’ve ever done.

Thank you, thank you, thank you.


I haven’t forgotten to talk about reentry, I promise – that’ll be the topic of my next post. I just remembered I didn’t do it alone, and thought that was quite important to discuss, too. 

Day 149 – Canada Day

As predicted, I can’t sleep – I wake up at midnight again, feeling refreshed and ready to move, get it over with. And from what I can hear of the rest of the camp, I’m not alone; everyone seems to be restless, the night is full of rustling tossing turning creaking cracking tents bags air mattress. The cacophony’s hard to ignore, punctuated only by four-leggers galloping through a couple of times around 2 or 3am. My brain isn’t being helpful either: is it Canada time yet? No, go back to sleep. What about now, Canada time now? No, it’s still only 4am. We still have 23 miles to make tomorrow today, and we need our rest. Continue reading

Day 148 – Harts Yearning

It’s so cold in the morning that I have a hard time moving, joints screeching in protest against the temperature. It doesn’t help that my alarm keeps malfunctioning – it goes off, then I move my phone to check the screen, and the alarm turns itself off. I feel like I should have to try harder to sleep in. But everyone else is rustling around, and it serves the purpose of an alarm – I get to rustling, too.  Continue reading