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MM 1971.5: Decided for the rest of the CDT to do my favorite sections and finish the rest as it came. Regardless of being a natural introvert, I noticed how much of an impact people made on my journey. I didn’t mind hitching a few hours north or south just to walk back the same way I drove if it meant I could meet more people along the way. It was quite symbolic of how my mind worked and the way my inspiration flowed. I was not wired to follow the rules or go in a straight line. I guess on trail you could call me a “hopscotch connect the dots” kinda chick.

I have also found the trail community became very cultish at times. It often seemed if you didn’t hike every mile on trail, then the whole hike was invalid. Yet, I remember how miserable I felt on the PCT when I made myself hike every mile that I possibly could. Although an experience of a lifetime and scenic views at every turn, for the most part I did not have fun. I got invited to all sorts of side adventures/events and denied every invitation because I told myself I “had” to hike in a straight line and stay focused, which wasn’t how I was naturally wired. I didn’t allow myself the freedom to talk to people because I was scared I would fall in love with someone other than the guy I was dating at the time, so I didn’t build a community or a tramily. Instead, I controlled myself through fear.

Now, when I met people along the trail they would say, “I heard of you, you’re all over the place! People say you’re on trail, then off on another trail, then in some other state!” And I find myself laughing out loud and saying, “I know! I’m having SO much fun!” As I released the control of my apparent actions, I figured out what worked for me and gave myself the gift of freedom (which was there all along).

Each day I awoke, I energetically asked Spirit, “What would You have me do today?” and an answer always revealed itself. It communicated gently and subtlety. No anxiety, only surety. The answer came from moment to moment and was changeful. Nothing I planned for myself was ever set in stone and I loved that about myself because things seemed to roll off effortlessly if something appeared to change direction. It was all excitement in disguise and it taught me what it truly meant to go with the flow.

So, today I hitched from Pinedale to Yellowstone. Some highlights:

-Got love pounced on a white dog.

-Got invited to some hot springs by an older gentlemen who wanted me to be his hot piece.

-Made it to Jackson, WY and bought myself two pastry danishes. My backpack drew a lot of attention, so I got approached consistently. A couple of people sat and talked to me as I ate the desserts in the town center, in absolute awe of my journey. It has become entertaining to witness how excited people became when they perceived someone on an adventure. At this point, it was something that felt natural to me, nothing out of the ordinary. But, I remember when I was younger and felt the same excitement/curiosity when I saw people living out of their backpack. I couldn’t comprehend it. I had hundreds of questions and was infused with inspiration. And now that the roles were reversed, I was always happy to sit and chat with people!

-Got picked up by a married couple who were in their late 50s. Married since 2016, they were madly in love and were on a road trip. Through a pair of binoculars, they explored the wildlife of Yellowstone. Both were previously married 3 times and her husband said to me, “The thing is, you gotta learn how to live with someone. You can love someone for all their lovely qualities but can you live with their shit?”

Once I made it to Grant Village, I got my permit and ate some ice cream at the gas station. A car full of tourists parked in front of me and picked a conversation with me, asking questions about my travels. Inspired, one of the guys asked to take a photo of me. I thought about how there were hundreds of people I met along the road that asked to take a photo of me and I recall all of those moments being of me eating food.

Lastly, I got picked up by a shuttle driver and got dropped off at Heart Lake Trailhead. He told me I was crazy and that a young girl like me shouldn’t be hitchhiking. I headed north from the trailhead, forded some lake outlets and climbed a couple of steep hills. Reminded me of BWCA. For the night, I camped at Moose Creek.