Making My Own Way

Mary Anderson, 63, is attempting to complete her solo thru-hike of the 3,100-mile Continental Divide Trail. Since writing this post, she has struggled to keep going with a knee injury. Read on to find out how you can send her a short message that she will receive by satellite. —Ed.

By Mary Anderson

Unlike many well-marked eastern trails, the Continental Divide Trail is like a make-your-own adventure. I doubt there are two groups of people who have ever done it exactly the same way. I don't know anyone who has not been off trail at least once. Many of us are off trail more than once per day!


Sometimes the best option seems to be setting out cross-country and making my own way. This always comes with a mix of trepidation and excitement. Sometimes the route I choose ends up being a lot harder than other routes would have been. Sometimes it saves me time and miles. Regardless, I always feel a sense of accomplishment at reconnecting with definite trail and knowing I succeeded at doing something on my own.


While heading cross-country and making my own way I sometmes find a few lone tracks of another human. As much as I like feeling like an explorer, I am reassured in knowing that someone has been here before me. It tells me I am probably on an okay path and helps me feel less alone.


Out here, in this immense wilderness, I have learned that as much as I like forging my own way in life, I have no need to do it all alone. There is comfort in sharing what I am doing with others, even if it is only a footprint.

Mary hiked the southern half of the Continental Divide Trail in 2020 and is undertaking the northern half this year. On May 27, she began crossing the Wyoming desert between South Pass and Encampment on the CDT, a 250-mile trek that she planned to complete in 15 days.


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