The days after the CDT were spent reflecting on the journey and dreaming of future trails. I got to catch up with a wonderful friend that I met in 2nd grade. Paperweight and I spent a night with her, her husband, and one year old daughter. She took us to Polebridge, Montana to munch on delicious baked goods getting our huckleberry fix. My father booked us two nights at a hotel to spend together before we parted ways to head home.It seems unreal to have completed the Continental Divide Trail. I had so many doubts after bailing in the snowy San Juans and having to average high miles to make it to the border at the end of September. We lucked out finishing October 2nd as a few days later winter came along for good. The CDT was challenging, beautiful, and so desolate. I became a much better hiker and learned many valuable lessons. I still love thru hiking and exploring the various terrains, diverse trail towns, and meeting locals. Thru hiking allows you to see many parts of the country most people never visit. The days of struggle, exhaustion, and worry slowly fade away. This trail along with the AT and PCT are now part of me and helped develop a stronger, more confident, and adventurous woman. I am proud to call myself a triple crowner of long distance hiking with the desire to hike a few more trails.
I was also fortunate to have a wonderful hiking partner that I met my first night in North Carolina on the Appalachian Trail. We hiked around 1,360 miles together in 2014 before parting ways after summiting Mt. Katahdin. I have hiked with many different people and our hiking partnership was unique and so natural. Life happened and we lost touch for months before a Facebook message reconnected us. It was clear months before the trail when we would talk for hours on the weekend that we might hike the whole way together. We met up in Atlanta, Georgia flying out West together. We were right back to our natural friendship that quickly developed into much more. Without his companionship, support, and calming nature I might not of completed my triple crown. By Colorado, we were sharing a tent and letting life just happen. When we parted ways, I was not emotional because I knew we would be together again soon.
I had lived in Massachusetts for all of life and built wonderful friendships. While I was on the trail, my parents sold their house and my dad retired. They moved away including taking all of my belongings to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to live off the grid. I returned home to a one room cabin powered by a generator with a two hole outhouse. I spent the next two months doing projects on the land, winterizing the cabin, walking in the woods with my dogs, gazing at huge bonfires, and enjoying the company of my family.
Paperweight and I talked often as I had to go for a drive or walk to get cell service. He invited me to move in with him in the small town of Solon, Maine. I packed up some of my things into my van and headed out East leaving my family for the first time in my life. I’m 30, an only child, and consider my parents to be two of my best friends. It would of been harder if I was alone, but I was living with a person who knew me at the start of the Appalachian Trail in 2014. We know each other so well and the transition from tent life to apartment was so natural. We joked about how good each other smelled and tried to stop eating like thru hikers. We went for walks on the snowmobile trails and up hilly roads together during the months of December to March. After the CDT, we know how to prepare for the cold. I always requested it be in double digits before we went for a hike as we went for long walks in the low teens. We enjoyed a lovely day hiking in Acadia National Park. Life was easy in Maine, but we longed to be living in a tent together. So after 3 months of living indoors, we decided it was time to go back to tent life.
We took the four seats out of my van and put in a twin bed frame with a mattress on top. We packed up the van with car camping gear, our thru hiking necessities, and a few other fun things. We left Maine and began to head out West for our next adventure. I slept in my first Walmart parking lot along the way. We had a quick trip arriving in Flagstaff, Arizona camping near the next adventure. Our first plan of the adventure is to thru hike the Arizona Trail which is around 800 miles. It begins on the Mexican border and ends on the Utah border. We will then spent some time exploring Utah’s National Parks before heading North to Glacier National Park. Where we will then hike West to the Pacific Ocean along the 1,200 mile Pacific Northwest Trail. We have a busy few months ahead of us and I couldn’t be more excited to spent this time together. Who knows where life will take us, but right now we couldn’t be happier. We are full of love for one another. We are fortunate to have found each other and reconnected. Be ready for some more wild adventures that I will blog about along the way.