I figure I'll try and keep a more updated log for both myself, and everyone reading, if there is anyone. It gets a bit hectic in town trying to accomplish all of the mundane chores of normal life, so if I have some downtime, I might as well make use of it.
7/28 | Anaconda, MT | Roughly mile ~440 or so of the CDT, currently on the Anaconda Cut Off route on our way to Darby, MT.
The last couple of days have been more of a mental challenge than a physical one. The meandering on jeep roads doesn't take much of a toll on the body, but it sure does numb the mind. Instead of focusing on something that initiates adrenaline, joy, anger, or some sort of emotion to embrace the next climb, I mindlessly zone out and my pace seems to remain stagnant. No additional help. No motivation. No drive, and definitely no aspiration to move. It seems endless on the jeep roads throughout the day. Once in awhile though I'll snap out of my 1,000 yard stare and realize that I'm hiking on the CDT. That's when everything changes for me during the day. I go from a walking zombie to an attentive and observant wanderer. Someone who all of a sudden realized that where they were was the only place they could be. Someone who is present. That's every morning, as soon as I hit the trail. I make sure that I'm aware, observing, and learning. This trail prevokes a sense of curiosity in me that wasn't there on the AT last year. That's what I'm chasing, maybe.
Anyways, I'm in Anaconda, Montana right now at the Anaconda Trail Society Adventure Camp. Essentially it's a one room rustic cabin with free wifi, benches, and enough space for more hikers than there are. It's been an excellent amenity for us while we are on our way through. Having somewhere to keep tabs on our items, while charging our phones, and getting free showers from the community pool is a gold mine here on the CDT.
Sonic, Lavender, Red Bass, and I took an accidental zero day today here in town. Instead of hiking out in the latter part of the day like we had planned, the heat and threatening thunderstorms in the distance kept us inside, charged, and a bit ancy to get back on trail. Everyday we are averaging anywhere between 23-27 miles fairly consistently, so an unexpected rest day is never a negative for the body, but sometimes for the mind.
8/01 | Mile 570, Darby, MT
4 days from when I wrote the above paragraphs.
Man, oh man. When you think you have a good idea, and you really do. I mean it. You absolutely have a good idea that can become something tangible. Then all of a sudden everything that you wanted to happen, doesn't. That's kind of how this blog idea train kept rolling. I wanted to write a little snippet per day, and I didn't. Out of everything I didn't and did accomplish, this may be the most minuscule type of complaint.
The last stretch from Anaconda to Darby has been nothing short of magical.
I often wonder how I've been so fortunate to be in the situations that Ive been in. Then I remember that I put myself here. I worked hour after hour to arrive where I am. I sacrificed more than I maybe should have to end up on a mountain top every few miles or so. Everything I could have wanted, should have gotten, and always set aside was for what I'm currently doing. Another long trail. Seeing the country in a whole new light and perspective. In a way I never thought imaginable, let alone could experience in such a visceral way.
It's been 570 miles of adrenaline fueling, cramp causing, mental testing, unimaginable will building hiking. It's taken almost everything I have to crank out the miles we've been doing. Not physically, and not necessarily even mentally. Just totally. I've been, and will be, continually tested on this trail. That's something I've come to the conclusion of, and seeked quite extensively while planning this hike, so really, it's exactly what I wanted.
Crossing the 500 mile marker wasn't some grandeur accomplishment this time around. It was another piece of the puzzle. Compared to the AT, the significance isn't there anymore. I didn't feel a need to celebrate 500 miles, or any mileage marker until the end for that matter.
Being back above 8,000ft, clipping 9,000ft, and soon to be approaching 10k, my mind has shifted from being exhausted at the end of the day, to being nothing short of elated. Accurately trying to describe how I felt when walking final ridge from Storm Lake Pass to Got Flats would be a discervice to you, and myself. When I finally eclipsed the summit and gazed upon the expanse that is Goat Flats, I couldn't control my breathing. I went from out of breath, heart beating near 160bpm, to uncrontrolled, sporadic, short breaths with a dying yelp waiting to leave my mouth. All I could do to express my joy was holler at the top of my lungs. Over and over. I couldn't speak to anyone because I was alone. Not for long. But long enough.
I climbed the small pile of rocks that laid atop the summit. Everything in the valley, everything beneath me, everything in front of me. The 10k' mountains towering above me. Beckoning to me while placing me in a cathedral of mountains. Everything I could ever have wanted was right in front of me for the taking. The most unimaginable view was now staring at me in the face, waiting for me to make a move. And a move I made. Right to my tent. I set up camp, made my usual meal of cold ramen and instant mashed potatoes, watched the glorious sunset that you see below, and closed my eyes for the night after a long, eventful day of 27 miles. Not only eventful, but the best day of my hike so far.
Everything before, and after this day have also been fantastic. That just happened to be my favorite day so far. I can't really tell you what it's like to be out here without being biased. There's a lot I don't share. Like waking up to squirrels chattering at 5am very morning. Like having to drink from the same water bottles every day. Like having to set up your house, blow up your bed, and use your jacket as a pillow. There's things about this lifestyle that aren't appealing to all, myself included, but really, the question I constantly ask myself is, would I rather do what I love with less, or do what I hate with more?
Sunrises and sunsets have been extremely prevalent. I've been waking up earlier and earlier to catch the most essential parts of the day. The rise and fall. One of my favorite transitions is dawn to daylight. Hiking in the morning allows for solitude with sensory deprivation in a way. Not sure of what's around the corner or above the next switchback, continuing to push and hike through alleviates a sort of weight from your shoulders in a sense. It challenges your mind, and puts you in an unfamiliar place. For some reason, that's entices me. Undeniably beautiful, the mountains have a way of instilling some sort of curiousity that is fulfilled by hiking into or out of light.
I made it into Idaho yesterday at mile 570. One state down, and then back into Montana. I'll ride the line of these two states until I arrive in Yellowstone. Also another event I'm looking forward to. There is still so much to see, and seemingly not enough time, but that's really all I have at this point.
Here we are again, at the end, and I'm out of things to type.