Well it has been a little while since my last update. I have had access to the internet a couple of times since the last update, but honestly have not had the focus and energy to do an update. But here I am to try to share a little bit of what we have been experiencing. We are currently enjoying a rest in West Yellowstone, giving our bodies and souls a good rest before we make our way into Wyoming.
Since leaving Anaconda we have expereicned so much! It never ceases to amaze me how much the scenery and terrain can change even within one day. We have been through some rugged mountains, and rolling meadow covered hills. We never stray too far from the Continental Divide, and often find ourselves right on top of it. By hiking 25-30 miles a day we are able to see the landscape with an intimacy that most simply do not experience traveling by car or plane, but we are still moving at a rapid enough pace to be able to see the landscape change drastically in as little as a day or two.
Tearing Apart & Re-building
When hiking a long distance trail, one quickly learns that it is an experience that will tear you apart and re-build you in so many ways. Physically, Mentally & Emotionally. There is little more powerful than having the opportunity to go through a full re-build of all that you are.
Some days when you feel your body being torn apart, you don't want to take another step. The fatigue and soreness can feel like more than you want to handle. It is both extremely challenging and rewarding to be able to push through those moments. To push your boundaries in a way that you never knew was possible. For some long distance hikers this part of the experience might only last a week or two, and then for some people like me there might be little things that come along off and on through out the hike. With each of our hikes I have learned how to move through this experience sooner, and with less re-occurance.
Emotions are one of the most powerful messengers to remind you what you have been thinking and expecting from your journey along the trail. I even have days that I am hiking up a hill and I am over come with emotion as my body physically expresses my exhuastion and frustration. Any heavy or negative thoughts I may have been carrying with me well up and come pouring out through tears. A sure sign that I have been carrying the burden of expectations on my soul and body. A valuable reminder to turn my focus back to the possitive experiences and beauty of the trail.
The mental realm is such a large part of any experience as grand as a long distance trail. That which we focus our attention on is what we get out of the world around us. I can all too easily slip into a place of focusing on all the challenges and hardships that I might be experiencing on a daily basis, and of course this only compounds the experience. When I am able to turn my focus and expectations around, I find that everything becomes a more effortless and fullfilling experience. Life is constantly offering us a reflection of our state of being. We might be able to ignore some of the messages it sends through to us in daily life, but on a long distance hike, those messages and lessons are so clear and large, there is no way that we can sidestep them.
I suppose we are finding ourselves for our entire lifetime, it is all part of the human experience. I am taking the opportunity this summer to really reflect on myself and my life, and to figure out what the next chapter of my life is going to hold. There are so many reasons that this is the culminating hike for me to really take the next step. Since this is the 10 year anniversary of my first long distance hike, and on the same trail it really gives me the opportunity to reflect on how far I have come personally, and how much farther I have yet to go. It gives me ample time to ponder all that I have been blessed to experience in the last 10 years, and what I would like to experience in the next ten.
It allows me to see just how much I have expanded myself, and also the places I still feel limitations. There are endless opportunities to expand my comfort level, and my abilities. For this I am grateful and challenged all at the same time.
To See & Be Seen
One of the great things about long distance hiking is to see your surroundings in a whole new way. I love being immersed in nature, and having the opportunity to witness all the living beings that she nurtures. We have been surrounded by wild flowers almost every day of our journey. The sheer number and variety of them has been stunning and inspiring. At times whole hillsides will be painted yellow, red or blue from the flowers that cover it.
The wildlife has been breathtaking at times. We have seen a few herds of 50+ elk. To watch that many majestic creatures move together like a wave over the landscape is truly amazing! Everything from grouse that let us walk within 5 feet of them, to pronghorn antelope who spook with the first sight or smell of us has graced our journey.
It is great to realize just how much the land and animals are watching us as we travel along our path from the Canadian to Mexican border. They all communicate with each other, sending the message that we are coming. Once in a while if the conditions are right, we might crest a hill to catch a small group of elk or antelope unaware, but they are quick to respond once the realize we are there.
The Journey Continues
We are just about 1/3 of the way along the CDT. It is surreal to ponder that we have already hiked 1/3 of the trail, but it also seems like we have been out here for months. It is simply one step at a time that will take us from the Canadian border to the Mexican border.
Walking the Divide
Since leaving Lincoln Montana we have pretty much been hiking along the Continental Divide. The mountains have transitioned from the rugged peaks that bring such beauty to Glacier National Park, to more rolling sometimes meadow covered hills. While they might look a bit more friendly and easy, following along the divide has proven to be quite the work out for me this last week.
As you can well imagine, being on top of the divide has provided us with some stunning views this last week. That is one of the greatest parts about being on top of the divide, is being able to see behind and ahead of us a whole days walk. To see where you have been, and where you are going is a powerful metaphor for life. The more aware you are, the more you are able to read the landscape that you have been through, and where you will be traveling next.
We have also entered logging country. In these areas the trail sometimes travels along dirt logging roads as an efficient and cost effective means of traveling along the divide. Eventually the CDT may be made up of all trail as the Pacific Crest Trail and Appalachian Trails are, but for now it is a route that sometimes travels along roads. Some of the ridge top roads are blessed with breath taking views, and are more enjoyable than the new trail that they have been building down through the forests in these areas the last couple of years. While trail is always an enjoyable path to walk upon, I have to say that some dirt roads are truly a lovely experience.
Moulding the Body
With constantly climbing up and down while hiking along the rolling ridgeline of the divide, our legs have started to form into the efficient muscle powered machines that propell us along our long distance hikes. Just when I start to think that my body is getting into shape, we are presented with another stretch of trail that offers just slighly different terrain to build up another set of muscles. Some days are just plain painful as the body lets you know when you are pushing its limits. Thankfully most of my aches and pains have been mild enough that a nights rest is enough for my body to reset itself just enough to do another 25 mile day.
My body proved to me just how strong is has become in these three weeks of hiking as we did our hike into Anaconda. We took a route called the Anaconda cutoff. It includes a good section of road walking. Our intention was to hike a 25 mile day that started with 10 miles along the divide, and then another 15 miles dropping off the divide road walking towards town. We would then camp and finish off the remaining 10 miles in the morning when the heat was much more manageable. Well as it turned out, when we got to the point we were intending to camp, it was all private land. With no other option we decided to push on toward town. We were now in the valley, where the temperature was in the 90's. With the last 10 miles in sight, I was growing tired of the road walking, and wanted to get into town as soon as possible, so I decided to see just what my body could do. I pushed my speed up, and for 5 to 6 of those miles I was able to keep the pace at 4 mph. We were able to make it into town by 8:30pm, and after a 35 mile day we gratefully settled into a comfortable hotel room for two nights of rest.
I look forward to the opportunity to have more of these moments of slipping into the flow and allowing the body to express itself through the pure expression of being in optimum shape.
Doing a long distance hike makes you appreciate the simple things in life. This is one of the most powerful blessings that come from such an experience. When we come into towns along our journey to resupply, we enjoy fully absorbing all that they have to offer. The simple joy of sleeping in a bed and watching televsion while in a hotel. Or inhaling as many calories as possible in the form of yummy foods such as ice cream and pizza! It is so very valuable to have the opportunity to appreciate all the comforts that we have in our lives. The fact that it takes me a whole day to hike 30 miles, but that same distance can quickly be covered in half an hour by car. This makes me deeply appreciate the amazing machines that cars are, and how much they do for us each and every day.
Our day off in Anaconda Montana was filled with relaxation, good food, and the kindness of others. I will talk about Trail Angels and Trail Magic in one of my next updates!
Follow along as I share highlights of the adventures that bring me such joy in life, and the wisdom they have imbued into my being.
Would you like to become part of my next adventure by being a sponsor? Learn more here