When I started my Colorado Trail thru-hike, my only plan was to increase visibility for my nonprofit, Blackpackers, through my social media and blog posts. We work to bridge the gap in representation in the outdoors through gear lending and community events; what better place to represent that than on a thru-hike? What I didn’t see coming was how much this trip would change me personally. My thru-hike of the CT turned out to be one of my most life-changing events—second only to the birth of my son.
I became a mother at 23 and have spent the last 15 years raising an amazing boy. I’ve tried to teach him how to grow into his identity and express it in the ways that feel most comfortable to him. But in the course of guiding him into his own selfhood, I nearly forgot my own. The CT presented the perfect set of circumstances to reintroduce myself to, well, myself. I found my hiker legs late—somewhere around Lake City about three-quarters of the way through the hike—but the mental shift came much sooner.
After a week of camping alone, I started to enjoy my quiet, solo nights. That’s when I heard my voice again, drawing me out into the mountains. This is who I am without due dates, bills, clocking in and out. It was the me that wasn’t just a mother or the executive director of a nonprofit. It wasn’t what I had expected or what I had planned, but it was a wonderful gift.