In my last post, I mentioned the website that lists who is hiking the CDT this summer. Many of you noticed some familiar names on that list that have overlapped with me in the past….that leads me to this post which I’ve been excited to write for awhile now! Many of my hiker friends (and fellow PCT 2011 classmates) will be on the CDT this summer and many of us plan to overlap and team up as we hike from Mexico to Canada. There is no kickoff (official start date) for the CDT, which also has THREE different start locations. The relatively small hiking population on the CDT, combined with the various start locations and dates, provides for a much more spread out hiker community than many other long trails. That doesn’t even take into consideration all the alternate routes and choices this trail has to basically choose your own adventure on the way. So even if you do find a person to start the trail with, and they somehow match your hiking style, there is still no sure bet that they will want to hike the same routes you choose to get to Canada. With that understanding, I will be starting and plan to overlap with many of my friends along the CDT. We may stick together for a day or two, or for stretches here and there, or the whole trail. There is no way to know with all the variables that come up along a thru hike. The unpredictable spontaneity of it all is part of the journey.

*Below I’m going to introduce these wonderful hikers, provide a quote about how their feeling about the CDT, give links to their blogs, and provide links to some of our shared experiences. It is a lot of information, but for the true Wired geeks out there, you’ll love this! If you’d like to read more about them and our shared experiences, just click on the words written in green in the descriptions.

I have chosen to start the CDT on April 23rd at the Crazy Cook Monument in the bootleg of New Mexico. I’m excited that I will be starting with three of my PCT 2011 classmates: Liz, Drop-N-Roll, and Ninja.

Liz 

Liz returning my lost socks on the PCT.

Many of you will remember Liz from the PCT where we were within a couple days of each other and flip flopping often throughout California. She is from Santa Barbara, California where she works as a nanny. Our first overlap on the PCT was a couple days in Southern California when we stayed in the same room at a trail angel’s house and then went on to do Baden Powell together the next day. We kept in touch and saw each other at random times in the middle of the Sierra or in town. I caught up to Liz at Drakesbad 1,000mi later and we stuck together for two weeks until we reached Ashland, OR. From there, our paths diverged on the PCT, but we have kept in touch since the hike. Liz has made visits to Portland to hang out with the hiker crowd we have here, and this past summer, along with some other PCTers, we hiked the West Coast Trail on Vancouver Island in Canada. I’ve also been helping Liz to start up The Trail Unites Us, the website she has made for the CDT. Liz’s bio is on her personal blog, so I encourage you to check it out. Our hiking styles are quite similar in that we both prefer to hike solo through the day and see others for breaks at lunch and at camp. I love Liz because, bluntly, she has her shit together! I know Liz is reliable and is there to get the job done. We work very well together in this sense and if I could open a business with anyone, it would be Liz! She had an amazing way of calming the “wired” side of me on the PCT (my favorite video with Liz), so I’m hoping that will rub off again on the CDT so I don’t implode. April 23rd is our start date because it is Liz’s birthday and also the same date she started the PCT. So it’s a lucky day!

“The PCT was my “Adventure of a Lifetime” — and the take-away was to keep making plans…Two
years have passed and, despite the hesitation I’ve felt when I think
about that frigid snowstorm in northern Washington and how my knees hurt
too badly to squat to pee for most of the summer, I’m ready to shed the
comforts of my civilized life in exchange for the simplicity of the
trail: the lack of choices, the faith in the whole of it, the company
and camaraderie of trail family, the unknowing of what the day holds
(each day different), the only pressing thought being the ONLY thought
to occupy your thoughts… Every day, I think about the summer I spent
along the PCT, every day I invest time in connecting with the people I
met on the trail or somehow through the trail — and I know, without
doubts, that another summer waking up on the ground will embellish my
life in a way that waking up in my altogether too cozy bed will not. As
the barriers of “normal” life are deconstructed in preparation for the
five months on the CDT, my excitement to stand at the Mexican border
grows.” ~Liz

Drop-N-Roll & Ninja 

Ninja & Drop-N-Roll backpacking in Peru.

Drop-N-Roll & Ninja are friends who hiked the PCT together. We hardly had a conversation with one another the whole trail, which was odd because they were pretty much a day or even hours from me most of the trail. We were in parallel hiking universes that rarely converged. I mentioned them in fleeting moments in my journal as part of the crowd I was near and I even camped one night with them in Northern California…but it was late and they had had a long day, so conversation was minimal. I also recall a brief discussion about avocados as they arrived at a picnic table I was leaving one day at lunch. The most I knew about them the whole trail were their shoe prints, which I often found myself following. Both are originally from the east coast. Drop-N-Roll (her name comes from when she caught her coat on fire and had to drop-n-roll at the PCT kickoff) moved to Portland this summer after getting an Engineering position here. We have since become friends and done plenty of hiking together, including the Teton Crest Trail this past summer (which I LOVED!). We found our hiking styles and paces to be very compatible, which makes sense since we were only one day apart in our finishes of the PCT. Drop-N-Roll has a great eye for nature photography and has the perfect balance of quiet confidence with drive and determination.
Ninja (named on the AT when she was wearing mostly black, with black sunglasses, and a walking stick) will be completing her triple crown on the CDT. Ninja still lives out east and worked as a ridgrunner along the AT in the summer and currently is a snow maker at a ski resort in Southern Pennsylvania. Ninja is my wild card as I still have yet to have a full conversation with her. It will be fun to get to know each other. Drop-N-Roll and Ninja plan to journal together this time around on the CDT.

“I’m very excited that my post PCT life that has led me to this point –
about to hike the CDT!  I’m hoping the
experience and confidence from the PCT will help me relax and enjoy the journey
with less focus on making it to Canada (though I still fully intend on making
it the whole way). Despite being within a day or two or Wired the entire PCT, we never
actually hiked together! Ok, technically we camped together one night but
barely spoke so it doesn’t count.  We’ve
become great friends in the meantime and I’m very excited to be starting the
same day.  After that, I’m hoping our
schedules are once again similar and we can end up hiking together more
throughout the trail.” ~Drop-N-Roll  

 

“Currently, I’m just looking forward to actually starting, when all of
the planning/worrying will be over and it will be up to me to improvise
as I go along.  I’m sure I’ll be getting more excited as spring
progresses here on the east coast–some of the earliest spring flowers
are just up, which puts me in a backpacking mood.  As of right now, the
aspect of the hike I’m most looking forward to is hiking with three
other women–even if it’s only for a few days–and getting to know you
(Wired) and Liz better, as I didn’t spend much time hiking with y’all on
the PCT.” ~Ninja

Balls, Sunshine, & Beacon 

Balls, Sunshine (with a broken wrist), & Beacon completed the AT this summer.

Most of you are familiar with Balls & Sunshine, but if you aren’t, you should be! Upon completion of the CDT, Sunshine (named for her red hair and sunny disposition) will become the youngest triple crowner (at 13 yrs old!) having completed the PCT, AT, and CDT in consecutive years. The two of them are hiking machines and it is amazing to see how Sunshine has grown over the last two years. Balls & Sunshine overlapped with me through most of California on the PCT and Balls (an army nickname acquired due to his last name being Gjonnes) was a major reason I made it through the record high stream crossings after Tuolumne Meadows. We spent the most harrowing days of the PCT together for three week. Balls & Sunshine live just one hour away from me in Salem, OR so we have kept in touch. Since Balls & Sunshine are looking to break the record for youngest triple crowner, they will be doing the extremely challenging, and rarely traveled, official route of the CDT. The official route keeps them on the actual Continental Divide for 3,100mi whereas I will be coming off the Divide at times to do the more scenic and popular alternates along the way. So, we will often be splitting
from one another in the hopes of reuniting up trail. We hope to first
overlap in Northern New Mexico and through the snowy San Juans of
Colorado Sunshine will start the CDT 10 days before me and will journal daily on the CDT too.

Unbelievable how Sunshine has grown in 2yrs!

“I am particularly excited about our soon and upcoming CDT Odyssey!  I
think of the CDT as the “Big Show” that all our other adventures have
been preparing us for.  I’m thrilled to have saved the best, wildest,
most remote, and most epic trail of all for last.  We look forward to be
actually “Walking with Wired” for a portion of this as well, especially
the snowy, high elevations of Colorado.   It will be just like the good
old days.  I’m humbled by the all star cast of hikers we will be
sharing the trail with this year, and am comforted to be surrounded by
such experienced long distance hikers.” ~Balls

“I cannot wait for the CDT! It will be a lot of fun! I hope
to hike with lots of our friends from the PCT and/or AT! It will be
beautiful in the many climates and places we hike through!!!” ~Sunshine 

Me, Balls, Sunshine, and DNR, with Beacon at his triple crowning!

 Balls & Sunshine will be hiking with fellow 2011 PCTer Beacon. Beacon (whose name originated when he acted as a “beacon in the dark” for some lost hikers on the CDT) is retired from the Air Force where he was a B-52 pilot and military planner. Beacon has already hiked the CDT partially in 2008 and completely in 2009. He just completed his triple crown after doing the Appalachian Trail with Balls & Sunshine this past summer. It was inspiring to go to his crowning ceremony this past October with Balls, Sunshine, and Drop-N-Roll. Beacon is an amazingly kind and giving man who loves being on the trail. Just like Balls and Sunshine, this will be his third consecutive year hiking a long trail…wow! His mapping skills and attention to detail are unparalleled. He has made a detailed data book (100 page spreadsheet list of important points, camps, and water sources along the trail) which is an amazing resource for all of us that combines data from all the CDT resources. Plus, he even provided me with a day-by-day projection of my possible itinerary for everyday of the 5 months I’ll be on trail. Just crazy! It will be great to have his expertise, heart, and company on the trail.

“I’m anxiously
anticipating the reunion with my first love; the Continental Divide
Trail.  I had a short romance with her in 2008 which ended when she
tried to kill me. Undeterred I returned in 2009 and completed the
affair.  She has since matured adding weight of new trail but as I have
heard she is still awesomely beautiful although a bit brutal. I hope to
embrace the brutality.” ~Beacon

Rockin’

Rockin’ and I spending an amazing night atop Mt. Whitney!

Rockin’ (whose name comes from her enthusiasm for climbing all those big rocks in S. California) is pretty much my idol. She ROCKS! We met through the wonderful world of the internet backpacking community before I started the PCT. Many of you may recall that Rockin’ hosted me and my fellow hikers at her home in Tehachapi when I did the PCT. We have kept in touch and have been great sources of motivation and inspiration for one another. Rockin’ even joined me on part of my John Muir Trail hike this summer. We camped atop Mt. Whitney (14,505ft), the highest peak in the continental US!. Rockin’s blog, Lady on A Rock, is one of the first PCT blogs I discovered and she is the one who has most influenced my blogging. Rockin’ is a teacher who has been section hiking the PCT during her summers off the last few years. She has even found a way to combine her passions for the PCT and teaching by creating tHInK outsidE, a website that provides resources and lessons for teaching middle and high school students about the PCT and thru hiking This summer, she will do her largest chunk at once when she joins me and my friends in S. Colorado for the snowy San Juan Mountains and will hike north as far as she can before summer ends. There are no words to describe the enthusiasm and excitement Rockin’ has for the trail. Her fitness is amazing as there are few people who could jump into a thru hike 700mi into it, at its most challenging point, and keep up. Her energy will be a much needed boost as it will be like the sixth (wo)man coming off the bench to recharge a tired and worn out team. I think many of you will enjoy her perspective as she will also be blogging daily along her hike.


“My love: simply walking through the
land, from one unknown place to another, carrying only what is essential.

Got to admit I have been known to promise I
would never backpack in grizzly country. After all, isn’t it way too dangerous,
reckless, and irresponsible? But after listening to Wired’s stories of the CDT:
the beauty, the challenges, and the sheer adventure of it all, I am full on in
and committed to bring it on. I am what thru-hikers call a chunk hiker and am
looking forward and feel privileged to hopefully join this community of hikers
in the southern San Juan Mountains.” ~Rockin’ 


Well, that’s the Continental Dream Team for ya. Like many thru hikers, I like to do things at my pace on my terms. The saying, “Hike Your Own Hike”(HYOH) is greatly honored along the trail. Everyone is undertaking a great challenge and everyone approaches it in the way that works best for them. There are many unknown factors that can affect all of our hikes, but it is motivating that we will have one another out there for support regardless of how much we overlap. Bring it on!

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