Oh hot damn! About to head west for hopefully another wild and wooly summer of walking and living in the woods.
It’s been awhile since I’ve updated this thing so let me catch you up, my faithful reader, since my last post. I got back to Massachusetts at the end of September last year and got right into living what has started to become a bit of a routine life off trail. First of all I work as much as I can during the off season in order to be able to live this lifestyle. Ive really got no complaints, I had a good winter outside of work too. I ran trails all over Lynn Woods whenever I got the chance, started climbing indoors, and skied the East as much as my schedule allowed me too. I also took a trip out to Colorado to ski for a week in January and it was incredible!
One minor setback I had was in January when I took a terrible tumble on the slopes at Sunday River in Maine and did something to my knee. I’m not even sure what I did, I mean after awhile I got it checked out and stuff but the doctor gave me some long scientific name for it that I couldn’t remember even right after he said it: patella something or other. Anyway it slowed me down but didn’t stop me. I had to take a few months off from running but I still skied the rest of the year and was able to snowshoe. The knee is feeling pretty good now after I’ve been running on it for over a month and hopefully I’ll be firing on all cylinders for my upcoming hike. Undoubtedly the highlights of my off trail life this past season was becoming an uncle not once but twice. First to my nephew Will who was born last summer but I didn’t get a chance to meet until he was 2 months old and most recently to my niece Sawyer who is just a few weeks old and still just a little tiny peanut of a human. Alright enough about all that, let me tell you my plans.
This year I’m planning on hiking the Continental Divide Trail or the CDT. The CDT goes from the Mexican border through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, a little slice of Idaho and through Montana to the Canadian border. My plan is to start in the boot heel of New Mexico and travel north hopefully making it the whole way. The CDT is approx 3100 miles but there’s many different alternates and detours and what not. It’s a little different than the AT and the PCT in that sense. For instance on the AT there’s white blazes the whole way through and it’s relatively easy to follow from one end to the other. The CDT has a lot more variations, I may take one alternate route that will add 50 miles and another that might cut off 50 miles. We’ll see, it will be easier to say how many miles it actually is when I’m on the other side of it. My intention is to walk continual footsteps from Mexico to Canada and using the CDT as a guideline. Or at least cover the distance, like I might have to southbound a section then return by vehicle to that point(that’s kind of hard to explain so more on that little footnote later). If there’s something really cool to see and it’s not necessarily on trail, I’ll incorporate it into my route. On the other side of that if I have to get off the main trail and take other options for safety’s sake(such as avoiding severe weather or wildfires or other unknown reasons) I’ll do that as well. This trail goes through all kinds of different climates and I’ll potentially be facing many obstacles. It starts in the desert around 4000 feet and doesn’t get any lower. There won’t be much water and I will probably be encountering my most fiercest rival: the rattlesnake! as well as scorpions and tarantulas. In Northern New Mexico and Colorado I’ll get up over 10000 feet and be walking through snow covered mountains. I’ve mailed myself snowshoes and an ice ax to get through some of the more intense sections. I’ll drop back down into the Great Basin in Wyoming and once again be facing water shortages. Then I’ll be getting back into the mountains and hiking through places I’ve only heard of and seen pictures of; the Wind River Range, Yellowstone NP, and Glacier NP before crossing into the Waterton lakes region of Alberta. Parts of Wyoming and Montana are grizzly bear territory and also home to other predators such as wolves and mountain lions. Most animals can be dangerous but these ones especially so. Let’s just hope I don’t have any ‘very’ close encounters. Seeing a wolf in the wild however is one of my main goals in life. For real. I might even carry a tennis ball during these sections and if I do get the chance I’ll try to engage a wolf into a friendly game of fetch. In this plan, or dream, my new ally will then proceed to join me for the rest of my walk fighting off enemies and curling up into a ball at my feet when I lay down to sleep at night. This is just what I’ve heard of the trail and what I’ve learned while researching it. People are always asking me questions about it but besides the 300 or so miles that coincide with the Colorado Trail that I’ve already done, I don’t really know what I’m getting myself into. I have an idea of what it will be like, but I’ll have much better answers after I walk it. So can I let you know then? For now I’ll just tell you my immediate plans. I should be getting to El Paso this afternoon where I’m meeting my friend Queen B and we’re staying at a hostel in EP tonight. Tomorrow we’ve got a shuttle lined up to get us to CDT Days in Silver City, NM. (CDT Days is like a kickoff festival for the hikers. Lots of gear, food, trail angels and hikers. I’ve gone to these on the other trails and they’re fun) from Silver City we’re planning on getting down to Lordsburg where we originally had a ride lined up to the border for Sunday but that just recently fell through. Don’t panic though, we’ve got options. We’re either going to: a. hitch as close to the border as we can, then walk south to get there and turn around to start our northbound hike or b. southbound the first section from Lordsburg to the border then line up a ride to get us back to town or maybe c. take an alternate route altogether to start the hike. I’ll let you know, but I’ve got faith it will work out. After I figure that out I’m walking north until I get to Canada. We’re planning on meeting up with our friend Speed in Northern New Mexico so we’ll have a legit grownup with us when the trail starts to get real dicey. That’s the plan anyway, if you keep reading this blog I will literally keep you posted.
I understand that hiking the long trails isn’t exactly a mainstream activity so when I’m off trail I get a fair amount of questions about it and I tend to get the same ones over and over. I’ll try to answer some of those here:
1. I don’t carry a gun. First of all I’m not a gun person, second of all those things are heavy and I believe in traveling light.
2. I eat junk food and lots of it, as much as I can. I try to go light on gear so I can carry more food. I stop in town whenever I’m near one, stuff my face while I’m in town and then resupply on however much food I think I’ll need until I get to the next one. When I walk all day everyday for months on end, I’m ravenous. When I’m not eating food I’m thinking about food. I love to eat. And I don’t carry a stove, for dinner I usually eat tortillas with tuna fish or pepperoni or salami. If I’m feeling froggy I might cold soak some ramen in a talenti gelato container, add some peanut butter and call it pad thai. If I’m lucky I’ll find a mountain house in a hiker box and for a last resort I’ll eat cold Idahoans.
3. I don’t take showers, I don’t wear deodorant and I wear the same clothes everyday. I smell like a wild beast, a feral animal. Probably worse. I let my pheromones run free but so does everybody else out there, thru hikers anyway. It’s one of the easiest ways to tell if somebody is out for a weekend or a summer, their b.o. or lack thereof. You probably won’t believe me but you get used to it. I shower and do laundry when I’m in town but that’s only about every 4-5 days. My record’s 12 days but I know some real dirtbags that have gone longer than that. I do swim in rivers and lakes whenever I get the chance and I like to think my off trail hygiene is decent.
4. A bunch of people hike these trails. I’m not out here all alone. For the most part I like to spend a lot of the actual walking by myself and at my own pace but I prefer to travel in a group or with a partner and I usually always camp with others and like to take my breaks with others.
5. I carry a portable charger, and it’s not a solar charger. I’ve tried a solar charger before without much luck. I charge up both my phone and charger in town and then keep my phone on airplane mode and low battery mode. I try not to run out of battery but it does happen. It’s something I’m constantly monitoring and making adjustments to.
I hope this helps, these seem to be the most common questions I get asked. If you’ve got any other questions about thru hiking, by all means fire away. No promises on the right answer though. I’m not quite sure I’m any good at this I’ve just done it a lot. To learn more about thru hiking and the long trails you can listen to this podcast that I’ll be featured on called Sounds of the Trail. If you don’t know what a podcast is, ask a millennial and they’ll set you up. My friend Hey Girl was a correspondent last year on the AT and she suggested that I should be the guy this year for the CDT. I sent in some interviews and an introduction to Gizmo who runs the show and it looks like I’m in for this season. So anyway I listened to the introduction episode last week and of the 5 people that will be correspondents this season there’s 2 others from Mass. A husband and wife team doing a flip flop hike of the AT, Erin and Adrienne are from Beverly. I suggested we meet up before we hike since they’re only 10 miles away so we did just that. I rode my bike up to Beverly the other day and met up with Erin. As coincidence would have it this was a long lost buddy of mine that I used to tend bar with at Bennigan’s like 12-13 years ago. I haven’t heard hide nor hare of him in years, I mean this was before the age of facebook and everything so we never kept in touch and now we’re both going to be correspondents on the same hiking podcast. I always say the truth is stranger than fiction and as crazy as it seemed to me at first, I wasn’t too surprised. This kind of stuff happens to me all the time, my life is a series of eerie coincidences.
So now you can read what I write here, if you want to see my pictures you can follow me on instagram @endlesspsummer and if you’re still not sick of me you can listen to me on the Sounds of the Trail podcast. I’ll provide a link to the first episode I’m on and you just might be hooked. soundsofthetrail.com
Here’s to a great summer! Stay tuned and feel free to subscribe to this blog. If you wish to contact me, instagram is probably your best bet. @endlesspsummer