As recommended by The Trek, I wrote down the reasons why I decided to hike the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail in 2015 and 2016, respectively. With my Continental Divide Trail thruhike beginning in two short weeks, I figured I would once again dig deep to try and discover the reasons why in the world we are taking on yet another 5+ month long hike from Mexico to Canada.
Of course, these answers have changed from hike to hike as I continue to change and grow as a person. The AT called to me like a whisper in my ear. The PCT was more like an alarm clock that wouldn’t shut off. And now, I yearn for the CDT like never before despite knowing all the pain, work, and lack of conveniences that await me. I find myself somewhat desperate to be back on trail yearning for nature’s therapy.
Being home in Indiana this winter was a gift, make no mistake. I was surrounded by family and friends, things were familiar, comfortable. I shared many unforgettable moments with the people that mean the most to me. I had a picture perfect, dream come true wedding with the love of my life. We were, and are, so very blessed and grateful for our time at home.
Yet, not surprisingly, the longing to continue our life in motion was still prevalent. Only three weeks after our wedding, we put the final touches on our hiking preparation and left home for the better part of 2018.
I’m currently writing this from Indio, California, on a day off from working Coachella Music Festival in the catering department for our third year. I’ll probably drink margaritas by the pool later today while enjoying the views of Mt San Jacinto from my temporary housing complex on a golf course. The days are ticking off until the world of convenience and comfort slip away and turn into something more raw, more real.
And why do I want to send myself into the hot desert of New Mexico in two weeks? Why do I want to walk everyday until October? Why do I want to thruhike the Continental Divide Trail?
Want to shatter your heart into tiny pieces? Go fall head over heels in love with nature’s beauty, then watch other humans destroy the living shit out of it for money, greed, and convenience sake. While I was at home, I definitely abused my internet access scrolling through Facebook far too often which often felt like rubbing salt in a wound. I watched capitalism and materialism at its finest around the holidays. I saw litter everywhere and single use plastics being consumed constantly. I had to be loud about not wanting plastic bags at the grocery store. Everywhere I looked whether on the internet or in real life, I kept coming back to the same conclusion – no one fucking cares. No one cares about their own actions and consequence as it takes a toll on this planet, our clean water supply, marine life. No one cares about that plastic bottle that will sit in a landfill indefinitely. No one cares about the destruction of the rainforests as we continue to knock them down to raise animals for meat. People only want nature’s beauty, shots of Yosemite and perfect beach sunsets. No one fucking cares about protecting it.
“…if you think I’m exaggerating, you’re not paying attention. I couldn’t say this more clearly – if you want to go see nature’s beauty, go see it while it still exists.”
It’s hard to care so much with your individual impact being so small, but also knowing it is every individual’s small contribution to the environment that will protect it. We humans have destroyed so much – animal species, rainforests, marine life, reefs. My heart continually aches for that which I cannot change. So, I’m glad I’m dipping out. I’m grateful that I get to spend time in the forests before they’re all destroyed. I’m excited to hike though Glacier National Park while there are still glaciers to see. And if you think I’m exaggerating, you’re not paying attention. I couldn’t say this more clearly – if you want to go see nature’s beauty, go see it while it still exists. Reefs are dying, we are on track to have more plastic in the ocean than fish in the next 30 years, nonhuman animals are rapidly going extinct. Our disconnect from the natural world is killing everything, and it often makes me feel like I’m drowning. What can I do to protect what I consider sacred? At a minimum, right now I just feel lucky to go see it while it still exists.
The overwhelming majority of people I know are overworked and underpaid. We pay taxes in the US for what? A strong military complex? The United Corporations of America are crushing it right now – paying slave wages, trapping people in the prison system, or plain murdering innocent people in their backyards. Our healthcare system is a joke, poverty is so rampant the United Nations was recently appalled during their US visit, we continue to supply arms to counties that use them against their own people, public shootings are normalized, democracy and voting have become so perverted that nearly half of eligible adults didn’t vote in 2016 and don’t believe that voting matters, Nestle is allowed to bottle and sell water from the Great Lakes while people in Flint, Michigan have thousands of dollars in bills to water companies but no usable water to show for it. Meanwhile the media divides us on hot topics which distracts us from the point – there is a war on the working class here people. Do you realize that we let wealth inequality in the United States get to a much worse state than what was in France before the French Revolution?
I tuned in, and I dropped out. I want nothing to do with that game. I don’t want to play. So instead, I’m going to keep traveling, exploring, and limiting my carbon footprint. I want to continue to educate myself and others about our environmental impact. I want to spread love and gratitude fiercely as I walk on this planet.
In many ways, I can’t believe those words as I’m typing them. But come October, Sean and I will hopefully be Triple Crowners with over 8,000 trail miles under our belts. There are many people that don’t travel 8,000 miles in their lifetime and have no concept what that’s like on foot. We know we are so blessed with these opportunities which is another reason why we humbly take them on. Finishing the Triple Crown this year is a pretty strong motivation to keep hiking despite the pain, hunger, tiredness, even boredom that life on trail sometimes brings.
I’m not sure this post will have a happy ending considering the content above. I gotta say, spilling out all of those thoughts I’ve been wrestling with is sincerely therapeutic though it doesn’t really change much. The state of the world is what is it. Thankfully, there is still much beauty to behold and love to share, and I am humbly excited to relish in nature once more.
I’ll do my best to keep you updated on this hike when I have service. Two more weeks 👣🌲🗻🌎