8/17 | 6:30 A.M:
As I chip away at the last few steps of my first 1,000 miles on the CDT, I can't help but compare my experience thus far to my experience along the AT last year. I get caught up in life on a day to day basis quite often. Days seem extremely long, while sometimes weeks and months seem to tick away in the blink of an eye. It's been extremely comforting and motivating to look at where I was last year.
Looking at the stats, mileage, fitness, etc, from last year and looking at the same numbers for myself this year at the same amount of miles into the hike is staggering for me. The first 1,000 miles along the AT took me almost 3 months to hike. Just about 90 days. The first 1k miles on the CDT has taken me just 40 days. I've averaged over 25 miles per day for the entire hike so far, and last year I had one week where I averaged 20+ each day. My physical strength is astounding compared to last year, but also, my entire strategy changed this year. I made a lot of personal changes since the AT. Eating right. Staying active. Pushing myself physically and mentally. At this point, it's all paying off far more than I could have imagined.
Last year around this time, I was hiking with some of my best friends through Vermont, getting ready to enter the Whites along the AT, but really we were getting ready to go to Boston. I was nearly 1,700 miles into my hike, and almost 5 months had been spent living along the AT. I plan to finish this trail in less than 4 hopefully.
8/18 | 7:25 A.M:
This year, I'm hiking with some of my best friends on the CDT, not even a third of the way done with the trail, even though we just entered Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park Yesterday. Wyoming marks the 17th state line I've crossed via a long distance trail.
Everyone always says "Don't dwell on the past.", but really, if you never look at the past and history, how can you make improvements? I think it's paramount for myself and others to look back at our former selves, compare and contrast, and then make adjustments. Keeping my past self in my rear view mirror at all points keeps me in line in the present. I look back at last year and even the years prior, and wonder how I did it. How was I not able to handle the mental stress of being on Trail that long? How was I not as fit as I am now? How was I not as talented at photography as I am now? How was I not as comfortable sleeping in a new spot every night? How was I not who I am right now? I could analyze every bit of last years hike and wonder for the rest of time how I didn't do things the way I wanted necessarily, but that wouldn't accomplish anything. The same goes for every year of my life really. Don't dwell on the past, that's for sure, but make sure you look back once in awhile.
Crossing into Wyoming yesterday has been one of the highlights of this hike so far. Here in Yellowstone, the trail is quite easy, but almost overwhelming with the amount of tourists that are here, especially for the eclipse that's fastly approaching. As the families who've traveled hours to see the geyser gaze from their hotel room or patio, others wander around the park snapping photos and chatting about whether it's worth it to walk another .6 for a waterfall. For them, it doesn't ever seem to be worth it.
8/22 | 5:30 P.M:
The eclipse has come and gone, and so has another 100 miles since the last entry uptop. I guess I'll try out this format for a blog or two and see how it feels and reads. It's maybe a bit easier to keep everything in line, but also a bit more sporadic.
Yellowstone was something that I couldn't wait to experience before I got there, and when we finally arrived and began hiking through, I couldn't wait to be out, almost. The trail was nice in places, it was scenic, the geysers were screaming at us all day while the smell of sulfur filled the air, and the mud was aplenty. Trudging through miles of mud, fording river crossing after river crossing, and even a natural hot spring made for a less than stellar four days in the park. The hot spring was the only saving grace, really. The Park was not what I expected or wanted, but my first trip to Yellowstone was nothing short of memorable. I imagine I'll be back at some point.
8/23 | 8:28 A.M:
I didn't have much time to write yesterday as we were in Jackson, WY having a grand old time on part one of our day off. We enjoyed great food, good company, and a hell of a lot of a good (shitty) beer at the Bluegrass Bar last night.
At this point, we are out of Yellowstone, and about to enter the Wind River Range, supposedly the most beautiful section of Trail. Northern WY has been gorgeous, but lackluster in the few areas we've hiked through. The days are beginning to get shorter, while our miles needed are staying the same or getting bigger.
As the mornings continue to get colder, the days will as well. Cold out here on the CDT presents another challenge to deal with that we haven't had yet. We've had rain, hail, sleet, and absolute awful weather, but we haven't truly had the cold yet. Not just any cold though, the bone ticking, deep sinking cold that you can't shake. The cold where it's in your core for hours, begging to be touched by anything that breathes and radiated heat. The cold that actually makes you question everything you're doing while simultaneously making you only do one thing, and thats shiver.
We haven't had that yet, and I'm hoping when we get it, I'm prepared for it. Actually, I will be prepared for it. That's really one of the most amazing things about the human mind and body. Our ability to adapt. Our ability to look at the mistakes we've made and to learn from them. Our willingness to make changes in light of new information.
Well, my ability to make all of those things happen at least, because as we know, a lot of people don't make changes or feel the need to.
A lot of the time on the CDT is spent adapting and changing plans, as is life. Sometimes the trail disappears up a 1,300ft, 4 mile vertical bushwhack. Sometimes the mud that I mentioned swallows the trail and you find yourself in a waist deep sinkhole. (That was me). Sometimes you have to night hike to make the mileage you wanted by morning. Sometimes things just don't go as planned, and that's okay.
Everyday out here presents new and unprecedented challenges and if you fail to adapt and mold to the situation, you'll be left behind to be consumed by the winter snow.
Everyday in general, regardless if you're on a long distance hike, stuck at your office job, or not even sure what the hell youre doing ,is going to present obstacles that need to be taken head on. Learn to learn from your past and continue to push forward and grow. We are only a fraction of the people we are capable of being.
Take a step in the direction you want to head and keep that at the front of your motivation. Find ways to improve each day. Find ways to be more in tune with yourself than you were. After all, we can always be better, right?