When I hiked the Continental Divide Trail in 2017, I was so pumped about how far I’d come as a “solo” thru-hiker. By hiking the Trail, I was closing in on becoming not only a Triple Crowner, but also the first African-American woman to complete the Triple Crown. Stepping off from Crazy Cook I was carrying something heavier than my pack. The CDT was about to school me. The thing about a thru-hike is you have GO through it. By going through it emotionally, physically, and mentally my perspective changed, and I found what I didn’t know I was looking for.
Thru-hiking the CDT was a phenomenal experience and I got to see an amazingly beautiful and rugged part of the country. The challenges I faced at mile 100 shaped how I approached challenges down the trail and in my everyday life, and part of overcoming challenges at times meant relying on others.
As the monument states, the trail unites us – there is a sense of connection to a tribe when around like-minded hikers. The people you meet on the Trail and in town will change your life, if you’re open to it. The people are so much of why I loved this hike: their motivation, determination, generosity and kindness powered me forward. Everyone has interesting story – listen for it, ask about it.
When I finished at the Canadian border, I didn’t know if I wanted to cry or smile or dance. I felt physically confident, mentally relaxed, and sweaty. This was what I had been searching for. It was more than just a hike. The hike wasn’t just about me, but about being a part of something larger, connecting with others. In a world that encourages us to separate ourselves by race, gender, politics and tons of other stuff, in the end we are all the same. We are all on the same Trail, but our journeys are different. Keep an open mind, keep moving forward. You never know where the path may lead.
I hope that more people get out and live their adventure. Whatever that is. Try something that you are not sure you can do. There are people out there that look, think and act differently than you. Don’t let that keep you from the adventure of a lifetime. There are people just waiting to help you on your journey. Take in every moment, embrace the adventure, and feel gratitude for every person encountered.