Monday, June 19, 2006

Sidewinder on the CDT

"Never did I think so much, exist so vividly, and experience so much, never have I been so much myself - if I may use that expression - as in the journeys I have taken alone and on foot. There is something about walking that stimulates and enlivens my thoughts." -- Jean-Jacques Roseau

Trail friend Sidewinder wrote that on his Continental Divide Trail site: http://www.trailjournals.com/sidewinder

He quoted it from an article in The Mountain Gazette. I remember reading the Mountain Gazette during my 7-month stint in Arizona in 2001. I picked it up at the outfitter's shop in Flagstaff. It's a great magazine. And if I remember right, it's free. But I haven't read it since. Thanks, Sidewinder, for the Mountain Gazette memories, and Mountain Gazette for the great quote.

The only trail journal I'm reading faithfully this summer is Sidewinder's. He's a real close trail friend, though we haven't hiked a whole lot together. He's someone who was with us back in 2000, early in the Appalachian Trail, when all this thru-hiking craziness began, and hiked the Pacific Crest Trail the same year as us, but we never hiked with him. He finished at the border the day after us (Sept. 25, 2004) after getting ill early on and falling behind.

Probably my favorite photo from the AT has him in it:


This photo was taken at some cliffs near Muskrat Creek Shelter in Georgia. I remember seeing plane wreckage on the side trail to this lookout. Coming back at dusk I checked it out, including an intact cockpit (though all the electronics were missing), and felt spooked out over the thought that someone lost their life here (I later had the same feeling in Virginia, near Catawba and Dragon's Tooth, taking a break at the Audie Murphy memorial, a stone monument at the place where his plane crashed).

Sidewinder is now attempting and will most likely complete the Triple Crown of long-distance hiking. The triple crown is hiking in entirety the three major National Scenic Trails -- Appalachian (Georgia to Maine), Pacific Crest (Mexico to Canada through California, Oregon, and Washington), and Continental Divide (also Mexico to Canada, mostly through the Rockies) -- over 7,000 miles of trail. Obviously, the triple crown is in reach for me, though my thru-hiking days are over for awhile. My goal is to complete the CDT in month-long section hikes, however long it takes me to connect the dots. For now I follow the adventures of Sidewinder and others as they face the elements and follow their dreams.

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