I very fortunate to have good health and strength at my age (62) to even consider a 2,800 mile hike. I do not take my health and sense of well-being for granted. After careful thinking, I chose a main theme of my thru-hike: gratitude and hope. With that theme in mind, I dedicate my efforts on the CDT to my brother Jim Carpenter and friend David DiCesare. Two small tags representing Jim and David will hang on my backpack from the southern terminus of the CDT, up north into Glacier National Park and Canada.
David and his wife Lynn DiCesare were among the first friends I met after I moved to Tumwater, Washington in 1979. They accompanied me on my very first overnight backpacking trip to Shi-Shi Beach in the Olympic National Park. David and Lynn were an inspiration for loving and experiencing wilderness and the outdoors. David applied his interest in the outdoors by earning a degree in Environmental Sciences from Evergreen State College. Upon moving to Vancouver, Washington he worked in local government to establish Clark County’s first curbside recycling program, and later became the city’s historic reserve project manager. The beautiful Land Bridge over Highway 14 in Vancouver was designed and built as part of the Confluence Project which David participated in. The Confluence Project was inspired by the 150 year anniversary of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, which has special meaning to me and will be a notable landmark along the CDT hike. Sadly, David passed away in January 2016 from a rare form of Leukemia. His passing occurred at a time when I was planning the hike of the CDT. One way to deal with the loss of a friend is to dedicate my efforts on the CDT to David.
Jim is my older brother, so it was natural when I was a youngster to follow Jim’s lead because he always set a good example. He entered Boy Scouts and I joined the troop two years later. I spent my first nights sleeping in a tent during my time in scouts and learned a few other things about camping, building campfires, and tending to the gear. Jim does not share my passion for hiking, but he loves camping in his home state of Arizona. Jim is a very smart guy, an engineer who lives near Phoenix, Arizona with his wife, Chalice. On a section hike of the Colorado CDT in September 2015 I took a break from walking during the first day, and I checked my text messages while barely in cell phone coverage. Shockingly, my phone frantically filled with a dozen or so messages with news of a large lump that Jim discovered on his sternum, and the sudden urgency to have it treated. The descriptions of Jim’s condition had the potential to be serious, but little was known on that day of the exact cause. I was concerned for Jim’s health. Moreover, I was not happy with the idea of going six anxious days without communication and news of my brother while walking in the wilderness. Hoping for the best possible news of Jim’s condition, I was grateful for my own health and the ability to hike in the challenging Rocky Mountain terrain. I pressed on. I arrived in Silverton, Colorado six days later and immediately started up my phone and read the news. The doctors discovered the growth on his sternum was related to lymphoma, which would be treated immediately. Worse, however, was that his kidneys were compromised and he needed dialysis treatments before chemo could be administered. Thankfully, Jim responded well to the medical treatments he received and there is no detectable cancer in his body. Cindy and I visited Jim and Chalice just days before embarking on the CDT on April 18.n He looks and feels great, and all of us are optimistic of a full, long-term recovery. Our brother, Brian, traveled to Arizona at the same time so the “three bros” could be together.
As I hike on the Continental Divide Trail beginning on April 18 I know there will be days and times when the CDT will brutally try to eat me alive. That’s what sets the CDT apart from the other long hikes I have been on. But those challenges will be nothing compared to those that my friend and my brother had to face less than six months ago. With hope and gratitude, I dedicate my hike to David and Jim.