[Cdt-l] CDT comments posted by Bernie Krausse

Bob BobandShell97 at verizon.net
Thu Jan 8 07:40:21 CST 2009

Fellow CDTers,


Bernie Krausse posted this today at


Thought you might be interested.


Dr Bob



The third and most seldom used trail of the Triple Crown is the Continental
Divide National Scenic Trail. Known to the world as the King of Trails, it
stretches its way through the realm of the Rocky Mountains from New Mexico
to Montana. This 3000 mile epic challenge essentially tests the essence of
who you are. Mental attachments and ideals of how a trail should be, must be
left at the Mexican border. Trail is not even the appropriate word for this
wondrous monstrosity. In actuality, it is a route of paved and unpaved roads
linking up to established trails throughout its' length to Canada. Only
about twenty hearty souls set out to complete this incomplete maze of
mischief each year. If an army of a thousand hikers were to forge this
journey, not one would find themselves following the same footsteps of

New Mexico, like southern California, begins the quest with thirst and dry
heat as its executor. Four liters of water keep you hydrated between
picturesque windmills crowded with the trails most abundant inhabitant, the
bovine. Where there are cows, there is the liquid of life. The more
appropriately named Continental Cow Trail begins weaving its way through the
traffic on the hard pavement of highways. This challenges the mind
immediately with what our conception and definition of a trail actually is.
Roadways then alternate with dirt roads of which at least fifty percent of
the trail follows. Finding actual hiking trails in New Mexico brings a sense
of relief and joy to the body and mind. The body itself becomes a finely
tuned machine. You may begin to sense how many miles you have traveled since
your last meal, not by merely observing the position of the sun, but by the
feeling that it is time to refuel your stomach once again. The body may even
trim five to fifty pounds of muscle and fat along the length of your hike.

Even more energy is needed in the 12,000 foot snow capped peaks that tower
over the state border in Colorado. The San Juan Mountains may have snow
lingering till the end of June. Snow Shoes may be the newest appendage to
your body. There are mountains as far as the eyes can see and you have the
choice as to where you want to venture without really knowing where the
trail actually is beneath your feet. The true journey along the Continental
Divide actually lies in losing the official trail and how you deal with the
situation that you find before you. Time and again a thru-hiker will choose
the wrong junction or will just run out of treaded ground. Frustration is
inevitable. Rage, sorrow, and even tears emerge from feeling a loss of
control. But the wisdom learned doesn't come from ever being in control of
your journey. The wisdom found comes from letting go of your expectations.
When the trail disappears, you must realize that you will eventually find it
again. No matter where you are you will know this is your true path. There
are always unexpected detours in life, and they themselves provide the
valuable lessons we need to learn from.

The trail transitions yet again in Wyoming and instead of losing heat to
your surroundings, your surroundings begin to overheat you in a treeless
high desert. Amazingly, cows, pronghorn antelope, badgers, and even wild
horses thrive in this arid land they call home. A thru-hiker learns to live
with as little water as possible, because the water sources are typically
dung infested reservoirs, at times, with decaying carcasses at the waters
edge. These type of extremes that the trail provides makes living and
traveling in ideal conditions or in the middle ground of life a pleasurable
ease. The sub-alpine and alpine mountains of northern Wyoming then becomes a
hop, skip, and a jump to Montana and Idaho. You flow as if floating on a
breeze. Thunderstorms explode above and all around you. Winds do their best
to push you off of the narrow ridge tops. Signs mislead you in their
directions. Even early snowfall blankets the world around you. But all that
just doesn't matter anymore. You've been through the worst and the best of
it all. It all just is what it is, and you are there to experience it all in
its' completeness. And as a farewell gift to you, you are greeted by a
Grizzly Bear protecting her two cubs as you approach the Canadian border in
Glacier National Park.

In hiking long distance trails one eventually learns that no matter what
path we may choose, it will always take us somewhere. Just because the
Appalachian Trail ends in Baxter State Park, the Pacific Crest Trail ends in
Manning Park, and the Continental Divide Trail ends at the border with
Waterton National Park in Canada, it doesn't mean the trail is finished. If
it were finished you would be just as lost as when you began your journey.
Taking a long hike through nature can in fact break the shackles of your
mind, leaving behind the expectations and attachments to how we think things
should be in everyday life for us. Having truly learned to walk for the
first time, you realize that you can do anything right now and anywhere. The
grass is never truly greener on the other side of the rainbow. You will just
take one step after another till the end of time where knowledge expressed
through action will provide the wisdom to take you down any path in life.
What the Triple Crown of long distance hiking can instill within your spirit
is the desire to live life to the fullest. One conscious and aware moment
leads to the next and you will always find that you are where you are for a
reason. So smile and wake up, and choose your trails in life wisely.   -
Bernie Krause



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