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. 

Diff’rent Strokes

While it’s pretty cool to look back and see all the stats and improvements and things that went well with a hike, I think it’s also super useful to take a look at the things that didn’t work as well. If I’ve learned anything from reading other blogs, it’s that a long-distance backpacking kit is an ever-evolving thing, changing from hike to hike (or even day to day) based on the climate you’re expecting, the length of your hike, and your goals for the trip. I learned a lot on the Colorado Trail, not only about myself, but also about the way I thruhike; knowing what I know now, I’m thinking about making some adjustments that’ll work better for the way I don’t eat, oh god why don’t I eat do things and which’ll hopefully get some weight off my hips. Continue reading

Wrap-up: Something Like Procrastination

So clearly, I didn’t finish my Colorado Trail thruhike and my blog concurrently.

On trail, my poor choice of external battery was to blame – between opting out of a couple of resupply stops and using my phone as a map and a camera and a blog-posting machine and and and, I couldn’t get everything typed up at night and make it into towns with battery remaining. I took notes at night in a Rite in the Rain notebook – sometimes extensive, sometimes skeletal – by headlamp light, until I could no longer hold my arms up or sit propped all weird-like, but it wasn’t in any sort of final form.

Off trail, I was initially so caught up in filling my work schedule, catching up with friends/imgur, and generally avoiding the fact that I wasn’t hiking anymore, that I didn’t have the mental energy to hunt through my photos, to force myself to see what I was missing by being broke but juuuust busy enough to be unable to go camping. I reconstructed days here and there using the notebook and the guidebook, but it was more painful than I thought it’d be. That depth of emotion felt like enough to drown a person who wasn’t ready for it. I pushed it down though, like ya do, and for the longest time after I got home all that pushing left me short-tempered, low-energy, fun-time avoidant, generally not the type of person I like to be around. But eventually, imperceptibly after a lot of work, I got to the point where it was time.

So in the middle of finding a new place and moving and working a whole helluva lot, I made time to write. And write. And write. It was time. And just before I finished Day Thirty-Six, I went back to the beginning, read every day of the hike, made sure I felt all the feels I was feeling so I could finish it right.

It felt like standing at the Junction Creek Trailhead all over again – exuberance, exhaustion, and a rewarding kind of heartbreak. But I wouldn’t trade either finish for the world.

I’m not exactly finished with the blog, though – I’m working on updating the FAQ and writing posts that talk statistics, what’s next, and what I’ll do differently next time. Even so, I’m happy to be looking forward to more adventures in the new year and years to come.

Aftermath: (In)Complete

I sit by Junction Creek in the immediate aftermath, sipping the remnants of the whiskey I’d bought in Lake City. I saved it for a reason – it suits my mood; the Colorado Trail’s trailhead is off to my left, the Creek’s softly flowing along, ushering my thoughts into and directly out of my mind. I’m content to flow along with it for the moment – what I’m thinking is too big to hold onto – while Crankster lets me have my space, making busy busy busy back back back to the real world. I’m not quite there yet, though I know I’ll have to be soon enough.

Continue reading