Near Wahoo Peak – 3/23
The last Continental Divide Trail marker I saw was a classic one, hammered into a tree, a corner broken off, sap dripping down the face from where the nail bit into the bark. It stood there near the top of a mountain, waiting to reassure someone struggling north with a map and compass, to let them know they were still on the right path.
Or maybe waiting to say goodbye to me before I walked east as the divide continued north.
I miss the feeling I had on that trail, the last of the Triple Crown, the devotion I felt to it. I miss the thousands of miles, the way month after month wore into me, transformed me, molded me into a piece of the wild. I miss the way I could walk up mountains and stare at peaks without fear. I miss knowing that I was in the right place at the right time and there was nowhere else I should have been.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think about not turning east, about following my old friend north.
The pack on my back is not much different from the one from six years ago. Some equipment inside it hasn’t changed at all. The same tarp. The same hiking sticks. The same hat. Those markers could take me to Canada if I wanted them to.
But they wouldn’t take me back to that place six years ago. They’d just take me to the same place I was already headed, forward, always forward, sometimes stumbling, sometimes, crawling, sometimes without a care in the world.
I took one last picture with the emblem and said goodbye.