A guest post by Ace
Holy shit! We did it. After more than 100 days and 2500 miles we reached the southern terminus of the CDT. Most importantly, Mountain Man did it. I cannot believe he has hiked three of these bad boys. And today, when we touched the obelisk marking the end of the trail for us, he completed his Triple Crown. He set out to achieve this goal and he did it. I couldn’t be more proud of him.
To top it off, the gentleman who picked us up at the border shared the good news that Biden had won the election. I won’t lie—and those who know me won’t be surprised—I cried. We had so many good reasons to celebrate today, November 7.
The only disappointing thing about our finish was the lack of a “big, beautiful wall”. In fact, thanks to the opening on the side of the fence, Stuart and I popped on over to Mexico just because we could.
As for me, I’m still processing it all and think I will be for quite some time. As we approached the end, friends and family would ask how I was feeling about finishing the hike. What comes next? It’s too soon to know. Right now, it still feels like I’m in a trail town resupplying and will be back on the trail in a day or two. It’s like a painting—I will need to step back and admire this experience from afar in order to appreciate it and understand its impact on my life.
What I do know is this: There are many people to thank. I wouldn’t have been able to do it without the help and support of all our friends and family. Their collective support, encouragement and engagement has been invaluable. But I especially want to thank Mountain Man, Beardoh and Sweet Pea. Their collective patience, hammocking knowledge and overall thru-hiking experience helped guide me through.
Our dear friend Proton who mailed all of our resupply boxes was a godsend and kept us fueled and outfitted. Without hesitation or questions he would send our boxes regardless of where the trail took us. And our logistics, as you by now know, have not been easy to track. Thank you.
The surprise trail sightings and acts of kindness from Hoa, Lynn, Lisa, Mija, Carol (Mountain Mama), Casie and Jason helped too! More than you know. These were moments spent with good friends in random places and care packages sent when we needed them most.
I’ve also tried to distill down things I will miss and things I won’t. I’ll probably look back at this list and get mad at myself for its glaring omissions (again, those who know me should not be surprised by my self flagellation). Nonetheless, here you go:
• I will miss walking and moving my body for 10+ hours each day. It turns out I have a lot of energy to burn.
• I will miss the simplicity and ease of living out of my backpack. Everything I need and have is in that thing and the freedom of its limitations is so liberating!
• I will miss being able to eat whatever I want. I love food and think recalibrating my appetite will be hard. Ever since the Peace Corps I’ve been a member of the clean plate club even though there are times I should tell myself to stop.
• I’ll miss my podcasts. Sure, I will continue to listen to them but the lengthy, uninterrupted time I had on the trail to listen to them and absorb them will be hard to match back in the real world.
• I will miss being able to stop and pee whenever I feel like it. Too much information?
• I will miss the unknown of the trail’s terrain and scenery.
• I will miss uninterrupted mountain views.
• I will miss the trail. Period.
• I won’t miss the ongoing ache of my feet. Currently, it takes me a good five minutes to work out the kinks when walking.
• I won’t miss energy bars, granola bars or fruit bars. I’m bar’d out.
• I won’t miss cold hands or dusty feet, though cleaning your feet at the end of the day is amazing!
• I won’t miss my stinky-ass hiking shoes.
As we embark on our next chapter, post trail, I’m nervous about what lies ahead. After all, I am unemployed. But, I am confident in this one thing: my CDT memories won’t fade. The only thing that will fade is my gaiter tan line.