*This is from a post I wrote for The Trek on Feb 17th, 2021. I hope you enjoy it as it was a featured link on instagram @thetrek.co
CDT LASH – Highlights
A lot gets packed into 650 miles and 7 weeks spent on trail.
- You cover amazing terrain: Beautiful. Challenging. Treacherous.
- You meet amazing people: Hikers. Trail Angels. Strangers.
- You go through transformations: Internal. External. Ethereal.
- Your path is rich in discovery: Nature. Self. Humanity.
Each portion had its challenges, delights and “forever” memories. And while we did not complete as much as we initially intended, our takeaway from this LASH is nothing short of remarkable.
While our home state of California has tremendous diversity of terrain, we never really thought of Wyoming, Idaho and Montana as being that diverse. Needless to say we were painstakingly enlightened. These are our highlights and their takeaways.
The Wind River Range’s craggy granite mountains, frosted in brilliant white snow against azure blue skies, beckoned us to linger. (Even in the wake of their challenge and treachery.)
Upon our descent of Gunsight Pass (NOBO mile 1835.4), the tree pocked rolling hills, and vast meadows filled with a tapestry of colorful flowers, left us in awe.
Roaring rivers. Frigid and often swift, deep streams. Tranquil lakes and ponds. Magical springs and seeps. They reminded us of the power, necessity, and miracle of this three atom combination…that is water.null
Geothermal “oddities” that boast of an “other” earthly world. “Births” of rivers from trickles of snow melt. A single stream that bifurcates, and flows to either the Pacific or Atlantic Ocean. It was the immenseness of Yellowstone’s natural phenomenon, that overshadowed any “celebration” of human achievement.
Historical routes, sites, and towns. Pivotal passes, such as South Pass, and discoveries that enabled the expansion of the United States…westward. It is here that we most felt the significance of the CDT and what a trek of this magnitude awakens in us.
Anyone who has participated in a long trek across amazing terrain will tell you that the people you meet along the way are an integral component of said trek. Like it or not, we are a communal species. Nature alone can not truly satiate the “hunger” within us.
While the pandemic of COVID left the CDT “population” sparser than “normal”, there was no loss of the trail having provided through the kindness and nurturing of, fellow hikers, town’s folk and absolute strangers, who kinship is unquestionable. Following an uphill, from Yellowstone’s Heart Lake, in the heat of the day, having run out of water, a chance “Hello” provided us our most organic trail magic.
A delightful elderly gentleman, “Fred”, trusted us with access to his van, and the beer and water within, while he continued on with his day hike. It was quite the awkward moment when we reached his white van. We wrestled with actually taking him up on his offer, but then decided that to not accept such trail magic would be “inviting” bad karma.
Salvatore Ambulando – it is solved by walking. You don’t really have to walk far, you just have to fully immerse yourself in the moment to let the “screaming monkeys” inside your head wear themselves out. It is here that you drill down into your psyche and are able to purge the extraneous bullshit that we all collect. The essence of any thru-hike, or in our case a LASH, is that you have so much time to “think” that you often exhaust your “worry/hurt/disappointment bucket”. You come to the realization that “it is what it is” and there’s no senses wasting finite time and energy on it. Forward is the only option. And so you move…forward with each step in exploration, wonder and peace.
Each time we take a lengthy journey, especially on foot, we find that we re-center our minds, bodies and souls to that which is important and fulfilling. We cast off the unnecessary “weight” (mind/body/soul) we have added to our “packs”. Our ability to practice “mindfulness” becomes evermore so rote. This LASH, was no exception.
“It is not death that a man should fear, but he should fear never beginning to live” – Marcus Aurelius
The quest of discovery is what drives all our adventures. We do our best to be open to learning or discovering something new each day. It takes some doing to feed such a drive, that hopefully will never become fully satiated.
While on this 650 mile LASH adventure across Wyoming and the border/spine of Idaho/Montana we were “fed” by the following:
Just outside of Dubois, Liz from the Black Bear Inn, awakened us to the healing power and properties of a prolific yellow flowered plant, Arnica. Remarkably this amazing plant grows alongside the CDT as it winds its way into Yellowstone.
While camped in Yellowstone, several miles outside of Old Faithful Village we discovered the true majesty of a midnight blue sky whose richly lit stars stretched like a warm blanket from horizon to horizon. In all our years we have NEVER seen such a sight.
The threshold of physical pain and mental override were breached and expanded, on more than one occasion. The human body and its ally (and sometimes foe) the mind, is capable of more than one can ever imagine. Having the support of, and responsibility to another, during those times, “eases” and emboldens one during such events.
With the advent of COVID-19, and whilst hiking this section of the CDT, it has become ever so apparent that the true nature of man is found in his capacity and pension for kindness. Not once on this journey were we ever treated with distain or judged for setting out on this LASH. Of course there are always those who believed we should have stayed home, but then we also believe in the principles of Hike Your Own Hike (HYOH).
The middle (or end) of April we will embark once again on the CDT. Ideally we will set off Northbound from the southern monument at Crazy Cook Corner, at the border between New Mexico and Mexico. Hopefully, we will complete a full blown thru-hike of the CDT. As with last year, things may change or require some adaptations. But what adventure doesn’t.