Solo GDT Thru-Hike – The Announcement
“…He makes my feet like the feet of a deer; He enables me to the heights.” – Habakuk 3:19
I’m just going to come right out and say it:
I am going to thru-hike the Great Divide Trail later this summer – all 1,100 kilometres – by myself.
It’s a really long story, and in a lot of ways seemed impossible, but I am finally in a space where I feel I can confidently announce that this is going to happen. I would say “the stars have aligned,” but that would be really far from accurate! This has been hard to plan. It’s one thing to desire something, and quite another to take the necessary steps to make it happen. It’s been clumsy, frustrating, and even scary at times.
But while it started out as something I felt I was forcing to happen, it is now feeling a lot more certain and right. There is so much I could say on the journey that has got me to this place, but I’ll try to share just the interesting moments.
Beginning with the dream – why did my silly brain come up with the idea to solo hike the GDT in the first place?
First of all, I think that once you are a thru-hiker, you are always a thru-hiker. That nomadic, carefree, physically demanding life of hiking day in and day out is rather addictive. Cities make me nervous. Being sedentary makes me uneasy and antsy. Hiking is the only antidote for missing trail-life. So with that being said, ripe with longing for another thru-hike, I asked Dan, straight up, if we could do another hike of the GDT this summer. And he couldn’t. He’s swamped. He would love to, he assured me, but it’s not the right year for him.
“Of course!” I told myself. “Silly Fox! We could never do that at this point in our lives. We’ll revisit this topic another year. The trail waits.”
“But you could do it.” Dan answers. “Maybe you could take some time off work. Hike it solo. But only if you want to…”
“Nope. I could never. I never backpack alone.”
End of discussion.
But it eats at me. Why could I NEVER do that? Is that true? I have literally THOUSANDS (~4,000) of miles of backpacking under my belt, and yet, I believe that I’m not capable of doing a handful more by myself. Why?
There’s the obvious anxieties of hiking solo – loneliness, injuries, and navigational challenges for starters. I’ve never had to make difficult decisions in the backcountry on my own, like where to camp in a thunderstorm, how to navigate in a trail-less bog, or what sort of mileage to push on any given day. These are decisions that Dan and I made together; ok, who am I kidding – these are all 100% Dan’s department!
Of course, there is always that chance that I get out there by myself, and I completely fail at hiking solo. Hiking alone is a whole other ballgame, and seasoned thru-hikers throw in the towel all the time. But to stay home and never truly know if I’m into solo thru-hiking, just because I MAY end up hating it, that just seems crazy to me. I mean, what’s the risk in trying?
I know what 90% of you are thinking – why not go for a weekend backpacking trip by yourself and see how you fare? I know…that is a logical idea, and I likely will. But there’s something to be said of really committing to it – to get out in the wild, a week away from your next town stop, and LIVING trail-life. Dan and I love weekend trips, but we find we are more inclined to long for home when it’s just a day or two away.
So WHY am I doing this?
Independence – I’m not trying to prove anything to anyone, except maybe myself.
Solitude – To be truly alone (while this is going to be really hard for me!). Unlike a PCT or AT thru-hike, the GDT is very secluded at moments, and while it was neat to experience that with Dan, I wasn’t entirely alone.
So there you have it! I am DEEP in the planning phase of booking campsites, buying trail food, repairing and purchasing gear, and getting into (better) physical shape. Please subscribe to my blog if you haven’t already, and follow along! I plan to blog my journey – like all my other thru’s – but likely not as detailed, since I am hoping to write a book about this one.
Follow me on instagram – @intobohemia – where I will regularly post photos and stories (the real WRITTEN kind of stories I mean). If all goes well, Dan will edit and post my video footage along the way and post those on youtube, which I will post here as well.
So here’s to another big adventure.