Yesterday I wrote about how long-distance hiking has made me more aware of basic human needs, but I left out what I believe to be the most important resource a solo backpacker can have: friends, and the ability to stay in touch with them.
I set out on this hike to find emotional healing. That necessitated reconnecting with my split-off selves. Ironically, I have discovered the only way for me to do that is by first connecting to those around me. It is similar, perhaps, to how a baby first connects to a mother before gaining a separate sense of self.
Just as people rally around when there is a disaster, going out of their way to help one another, people I meet on the trail have been really kind and generous. These types of interactions are one of the reasons other hikers give me when I ask them why they hike. They hike to connect with the kindness we all carry within. Again this makes me glad to live in rural Vermont, which seems to bring out the best in people.
It is the connections both with my Vermont friends and the new people I meet on the trail that are helping me shift from a broken old lady to Mary Badass. I love my friends and am grateful for the ways Korongo is making it possible for me to remain in contact with them while on trail.
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 this year.