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  • Writer's pictureBriana DeSanctis

America on Two Feet: Colorado Once More

The Colorado sign shone brightly in the sun as I paused to snap a few photos. The significance of crossing this particular border meant I would shortly ‘close the gap’, having completed both the northern and southern routes of the American Discovery Trail.

I’ve hiked the eastern portion from the Atlantic Ocean in Delaware to Elizabethtown, Ohio. I continued west, taking the southern route to Denver and onward to the Leadville area. Then on December 2, I flew back to Elizabethtown, OH and hiked the northern route (heading west again) into Denver. Now only the western portion remains. At less than 2,000 miles to go, the most rugged, dry, and remote miles of the entire trail are those which lie ahead. This is the part I’ve been waiting for. The best is in the west and it’s time to get weird.

My mind has taken me to some wild places. The more introspective and observant I become, the more I can learn about myself and those around me. People are, in general, usually quite predictable if you take the time to notice. I have a lot of questions and the amount of knowledge gained by simply thinking and absorbing, is immeasurable. My belief is in nature. We are supposed to be wild.

Humans can be greedy and lazy, and many have a backwards way of thinking. Every single day this becomes exponentially more apparent, as does the ease of offering examples to support these findings. How can you be fortuitous if you have no desire to feel the burn? Why can’t we be strong, hardworking people again? We are plunging ourselves into a downward spiral of what could be projected as incompetent generations. Does it matter? I don’t know, does it? I just go about my business and try to leave less of a footprint, more of a positive impact and hope that I can inspire more than one person to do the same.

I expect the desert to be hot and dry with very little shade. Bob Palin, the Utah coordinator, is my beacon of hope for many miles as he has hidden gallons of water for me along the trail in some of these parched areas. It takes a lot of dedication and time (not to mention vehicle usage on unrefined jeep roads in hot weather) to drive all the way out into the desert to leave water for people you haven’t physically met. That is some serious trail magic if I’ve ever seen any. It will keep me alive. During the colder months I can hike all day and barely drink water, but in the heat, I can’t seem to drink enough. The problem in the desert can be finding water in the first place, and Bob is a gem to donate his time and resources in this way.

As this month’s column ends, I sit at Nathan and Marley’s house, nursing a broken toe while it pours rain and hail outside with no lack of thunder and lightning. Blessings in disguise. Pretty soon there will be no people, no houses, no civilization. It seems so far off, but it really isn’t. Nothing is far off. I have been hiking for eighteen months and it’s like I began yesterday. Another few months and I’ll be stepping into the Pacific Ocean, hopefully with all my toes intact.

Back to the mountains and muddy trails.

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