• Mary Anderson

What I’ll Remember About the Winds

The final stretch of Mary Anderson’s trek along the Continental Divide Trail included a crossing of Wyoming's spectacular and perilous Wind River Range. Periodically throughout her trek, Mary has compiled a list of impressions of the section of trail she has just completed. She labeled this post "Final list." In fact, it isn't a list at all but an essay about the end of her 3,100-mile solo trek along the most rugged of the three trails that make up America’s Triple Crown of hiking. Still to come: Dozens of photos, more blog posts, and info about Mary's book.

Top of Texas Pass, Wyoming. Photo: Mary Anderson


Final List

By Mary Anderson

This is a more difficult list to compile than most. The beauty has been spectacular, the storms intense, scary, strong, and often lasting all night long. The days have been hot, the nights icy cold. I had no service for a long period and relied on map and compass for a number of days. I made my own route cross-country to avoid hating blowdowns, which were extreme on this section. At one point I counted 90 in twenty minutes.

The Wind River Mountains are rugged, with 53 peaks over 13,000 feet. There are over 2,400 lakes and ponds in the Winds. Waterfalls, streams, and rivers abound. There are numerous ways CDT hikers make their way through, so once again it was a make-your-own-adventure trail. I embraced that, chose the routes I wanted to do, and enjoyed the cross-country section even though I used only compass as I had no real map for going around the blowdowns. I did not know where water was for almost two days, encountered mud up to my knees, pushed through willows and sage, crossed rivers, endured close lightning and hail storms, and had ice inside my tent most mornings.

The fall colors were spectacular. The walking was difficult and scary at times, but I felt strong. I knew I was nearing the end and focused on each moment I had out there. I tried to embrace Mary Badass and to accept being called amazing. In reality, while what I have done was difficult it is not all that unusual nor out of the ordinary, except perhaps for doing the CDT solo at my age. I am just an average hiker. As of April of this year there were close to 500 people who had completed the Triple Crown of hiking.

The views out my tent were spectacular. The stars, especially reflecting in an alpine lake, were a sight I wish I could share with everyone. Just when I thought I was done with bears, I ran into one. I went over one of the scariest, steepest climbs on the entire trail. Winds blew me around when I tried to walk in them and pummeled my tent, keeping me awake at night. The amazing thing is, I was beyond being phased by it. I accepted a pretty sleepless night, did what I had to do to keep my sleeping bag dry and my tent intact, and just rode out the storm.

I tried to take those moments deep inside and tell myself I could live the rest of my life from that place, riding out storms without being too rattled by them. I hollered out to the mountains that I was Mary Badass. I challenged them to throw all they had at me, aware that they could easily outdo me. But I put the challenge out there anyway, willing to accept what came my way. And even up to the last step I was thrown deep challenges. The details will have to wait to be told, but trust me, I was truly challenged up until and even after the last steps. It will take a while to process and a while to be able to talk about, so for now, this non list is the last list of the trip.


Mary's "Lists"

Photo: Mary ended her hike of the CDT in South Pass City, Wyoming, birthplace of the American women's suffrage movement. (More)

Mary Anderson is a writer, a blogger, a long-distance hiker, a tele-skier, a weaver, and an organic farmer who lives in Bethel, Vermont. You can follow her here and on her Facebook page.

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