After the last several months of spending my weekends behind a laptop, I’m happy, proud, and excited to announce the publication of my third book, A Long Way From Nowhere: A Couple’s Journey on the Continental Divide Trail, an account of my 2013 CDT hike. While preparing for the CDT, I often felt like I was unearthing hidden treasures as I learned more about the route, the resupply strategies, and the necessary gear to take on the 3,000 mile journey. By the time the trail was finished, I nearly felt an obligation to write about it in order to tell the story of a CDT adventure so others could also gain familiarity with a less-traveled trail. Both my husband and I share in narrating the book, offering the reader two unique perspectives, as we make our way from Mexico to Canada along the rugged, remote, and wild CDT.
The CDT will always hold a special place in my memory, especially as I look back at some of the events that happened right out of the gate in our first state of New Mexico. I experienced heat stroke in the first few days of walking, unable to hold down much food or fluid as we made our way over exposed terrain, with nothing but sagebrush on the ground and not a tree in sight to offer shade. We hiked through the remote Black Range, the desolation evident in the fact that the only footprints on the trail ahead of us were those of animals. Speaking of animals, we saw more wildlife in New Mexico than we had ever seen on previous trails combined, including an early morning scare with a mountain lion and two encounters with a mama bear and her two cubs. Lastly, a surprise waterless stretch of forty-seven miles tested our ability to stay calm and make forward progress in spite of feelings of desperation. Again, this was just New Mexico, so by the end of the state we were wondering what else was in store for the remaining 2,200 miles.
Aside from the wildlife, the rugged terrain, the frustrating route-finding in which we went the wrong way for five miles at one point, the people of the CDT made a lasting impression on us. In the little town of Winston, New Mexico, a twenty-four mile hitch away from the trail, we arrived at dark on a Sunday evening. We weren’t in town for more than five minutes before two concerned townspeople found us and asked us what we were doing in their town of less than 100 people at such an odd time. While we were scared at first, once we told them about our CDT hike, they were quick to welcome us to Winston and even helped us find a place to sleep. That sort of generosity and kindness was a common thread among the people we met along the way, which was all the more unique about the CDT because most people that helped us had no idea the trail even existed.
Because the CDT is a relatively unknown trail, with such few resources compared to other trails, I’m all the more excited about this book. I feel lucky to have hiked the trail and to have seen so many parts of the United States that most will never see first-hand. There were moments along the way when I said to myself, “I’d better live to tell this story!” because I wanted to share it with others interested in learning about the CDT and about the thoughts we had as we hiked it. Looking back on the trail, in some ways it was a gauntlet of challenges, seemingly one after the other, but in other ways overcoming those challenges was that much more special in an environment so untouched by most.
Thank you for sharing in my excitement in the publication of the book and I hope others will enjoy reading about our experiences as much as my husband and I enjoyed telling the story of our journey on the CDT.
This post was written by Gossamer Gear Trail Ambassador Julie ‘Stopwatch’ Urbanski, a Triple Crowner who has traveled through much of the U.S., whether on foot, via bicycle, or in a car. She has hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, the Appalachian Trail, the Continental Divide Trail, and the Colorado Trail (2007, 2011, 2013, 2012), and bicycled down the Pacific coast from Portland, Oregon to the border of Mexico. Author of three books, The Trail Life: How I Loved it, Hated it, and Learned from it, Between a Rock and a White Blaze: Searching for Significance on the Appalachian Trail, and her latest A Long Way From Nowhere: A Couple’s Journey on the Continental Divide Trail.