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Becoming Mary Badass

When 63-year-old Mary Anderson started hiking the Continental Divide Trail last summer, nobody thought she would make it to the end. Hikers give themselves trail names, and Mary's was "Old Lady Hiker."

The CDT is really rugged. It crosses the Chihuahuan Desert in Southern New Mexico and the high peaks of the Rockies, where the dangers include rockslides, forest fires, and lightning strikes. You have to fight your way across rushing rivers, snowcovered slopes, and miles of thick willows and blowdowns. You have to watch out for grizzlies and rattlesnakes. You have to fight loneliness, hunger, blisters, sore muscles, and fear.

Mary wasn't young, but neither was she a novice hiker. She had already hiked the Appalachian Trail—twice—and the Pacific Crest Trail. Several days into her trek, a group of younger hikers gave her a new name. From then on, she was known as Mary Badass.

I met Mary in a writing workshop hosted by Kimball Library last fall. She and I met online every day through the winter, and I’ll be damned if she didn’t finish a 220-page first draft of a book about her hike and the events that led up to it.

This summer, Mary will do the second half of the trail, and she has invited me to keep track of her progress through a satellite device. Each day, she will send out a message letting me and other friends know her location. I’ll post her progress here.

I invite you to share in Mary’s adventure by following her on this blog and on her Facebook page, and by shopping in Korongo’s online store. From now until her safe return in the fall, we will be donating 100 percent of our proceeds to her trek. The funds will go toward equipment and services that will help Mary stay safe on the trail.

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