The year was 2018. I just moved to Leadville with Harpo & things were a little rough around the edges. The death of my father & the year of unpaid work producing a failed crop, as well as living away from Harpo, had taken its toll. I needed to clear my head.
I made a late decision to southbound the CDT. I quit Scarlet tavern, where I was bartending, and left Leadville on July 17 for Spokane. I caught the sleeper train to East Glacier, hitched to get permits at 2 Medicine, slept at the Mexican restaurant. After a long & weird hitch to Waterton, I was on trail by July 19th.
Walking some familiar miles through Montana was meditative – the space opened up both fresh moments and pockets of memory. I picked up new miles where I could – in 2016 Harpo and I took sooo many alternates; a bunch of Ley alternates, the Big Sky route, the north & east boundaries of Yellowstone, Cirque and Knapsack Col. This year I tried to stick to the traditional route through southern Montana, Idaho, Yellowstone and the Winds. It was beautiful and desolate and weird to be out there alone, especially without Harpo.
I pushed thru, picking up hikers on the way. Martin aka Huck (a friend from the PCT 15) had flown in from Denmark earlier in the summer and was staying in Leadville. On the way into town I talked to Harpo & we decided to host CDT SOBO TRAIL DAZE 2018 and ended up having a great time with Quadzilla, Flyby, Little Spoon, Digeridoo, Hot Legs, Just Dan, a few other hikers and out roommates J and Spencer. The squad hiked out after a few days of slack packing, games, and food. We stayed together, more or less, until the Mexican border.
Southern Colorado was cold af & rainy. Huck & I bailed out early from the south San Juans after several days of freezing rain, descending into Pagosa Springs. I wasn’t expecting snow in New Mexico. Nor was I expecting the spectral sunsets or the excellent hot springs (thanks Juice for the hospitality in Taos!). The southwest was sunbleached and mystical and sharp; the southern terminus was surprisingly beautiful & desolate.