• Mary Anderson

Letting Go and Traveling Light

Mary's tent in the Chihuahan Desert, September 2020. Socks by Darn Tough

You become really aware of how much packaging surrounds the food we buy when you have to carry all your trash on your back for days. In fact, you become aware of the weight of everything.

Hardly a day goes by when I don’t wonder what else I can get rid of from my pack. I ask myself if I really need that second layer of clothing. I wonder if I can get by with less food. I am constantly trying to downsize.

I find it harder to downsize when I am at home. In fact, I tend to collect too much stuff. I have a lot of activities that take up space in my house; these include weaving, knitting, sewing, farming, cooking, and canning. I have my kayaks, bicycles, and a multitude of skis. While none of my clothing was bought new, I have more clothes than I need. I know I could do with less. After all, I survive on the trail in the same clothes for four months.

I know it is reasonable to have more things when I am home, but I hope I can find the balance and learn to let go of what I am not using. I also hope to let go of the excess baggage I carry within. For far too long, I have carried self-doubt, self-hate, and fear of rejection. I imagine these have weighed me down far more than anything I am carrying in my backpack. It’s too bad it is not as easy to shed these as it is to get the weight down in my pack.


Mary Anderson is writing a book about her trek along the 3,000-mile Continental Divide Trail, a journey of healing that she began in her sixties. Mary hiked the southern half of the trail in 2020 and is undertaking the northern half in 2021. Read more of Mary's story.

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