December 5, 2016.
One of the pleasures of hiking the CDT was to read the words of support from those who followed my journey on my blog and Facebook, and often wrote me kind, encouraging messages. My thanks go to each and every one of you! In early 2016 when I first announced to my friends and colleagues that that I would hike the CDT, some asked if I would write a blog. And I created my first blog site! During the hike, when I had access, I read every comment on www.elkpass.com and on Facebook! Knowing that my friends were reading was motivation to keep writing and keep hiking. Over 2,700 visitors to the blog from 30 countries made 10,000 page views. That includes multiple visits by the same people.
When I arrived in a town or a place that resembled civilization, I had numerous chores to take care of. Those chores included receiving and shipping parcels at the Post Office, managing my gear, shopping for goodies & calories to add to my backpack, eating pancakes, hamburgers, enchiladas, ice cream, etc., and of course, updating my blog. While writing, I took care to select meaningful photos and write a summary of what the previous four to fourteen days were like. I tried to describe the dramas that were my adventure, especially how I dealt with falling behind my original schedule which had me hiking five months to reach the Canadian border on September 18. It took me 15 days more than I expected, and during that stretch in beautiful northern Montana I was concerned about daily forecasts that often included cold, rainy or snowy weather.
There were so many things to blog about… the things that filled my days and senses: observing the ever-changing and beautiful scenery, watching for wildlife, dealing with the weather (which was pretty good most of the time, sometimes fiercely and powerful), meeting new and positive friends along the way, enjoying the generosity of trail angels and kind people in trail towns, overcoming the challenge of (or just trying to) hike 20+ miles per day, climbing steep pitches, traversing snowy terrain, staying on course, and healing several long-lasting injuries. I hiked with numerous friends, old and new, in New Mexico and southern Colorado. In mid-Colorado I joined thru-hiker / adventurer Elusive to hike from Monarch Pass to Twin Lakes. Those five days and 78 miles were filled with steep, snowy and lovely terrain, complete with a heart-stopping slide off a steep cornice! After Monarch Pass, I began a period of 87 days and 1,400 miles of hiking solo nearly all the time! In those days I felt secure in my abilities and never felt lonely, even on days when I never saw another human being. Sure, I skipped a few heartbeats when a grizzly bear entered my camp in northern Wyoming, but that brief exhilarating encounter only further heightened my senses. Every day on the trail was great and, in hindsight, the bad days were amazing because I learned the value of optimism. But I often thought, “how can I accurately and honestly describe these experiences in the blog?” Writing about something so big in those short blog posts left me wanting to write more…someday soon!
The CDT is an amazing place and hiking it was the hardest thing I have ever done, and even more rewarding. It was a transformative adventure, to say the least, and it is still sinking in. Completing the journey was a big deal to me, an accomplishment of a long-term goal ever since I met other hikers who had thru-hiked the CDT since the mid-90’s. That day came on October 3, 2016 when my lovely wife Cindy hiked three miles from the border and met me and my hiking partners in Glacier National Park, Footprint and Stormrunner. Together, we touched Canada and celebrated!
Greg In Wild (Roger Carpenter)