"My only fear was that I would finish the trail and be unchanged by it."
- Jennifer Hanson
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail: One Woman’s Journey
A writer’s gift lies within their ability to share with you their world while maintaining their voice. And if they are truly gifted they are able to throw you into their universe allowing you to see through their eyes. Hiking the Continental Divide Trail: One Woman’s Journey written by Jennifer Hanson does just this.
For those of you who have never hiked let alone explored your own back yard, the CDT is a 2600 mile scenic trail that reaches from Mexico to Canada. This trail is not thoroughly documented from beginning to end and although many pledge to conquer its vast wilderness very few succeed. Jennifer Hanson is one of these few and thankfully for us and for future thru-hikers everywhere she decided to capture her journey and share it with us all.
I am not a hiker by any means, as a matter of fact the one time I tried to walk one of the paths through Pilot Mountain located in North Carolina, I retreated at the first site of the edge and narrow passage ways. I would love to claim that I know hiking jargon but this would be a lie and the true hikers out there would string me alive for making light of this activity that surpasses a hobby and can be tougher than any 9 to 5.However my lack of knowledge did not stop me from getting lost with Jennifer, rubbing my feet paying homage to her blisters, scars, and dried blood. My throat yearned for water as she searched for a water mill and my stomach turned as she sipped on muddy iodine treated water. I jumped with the first sign of thunder storms, wild bulls, grizzly bears, and the sounds of the unknown. At one point I even grabbed a blanket as her and her husband at the time, became prey to the elements. And at the same time I watched as she began her journey as an optimistic thrill seeker, to a scared rabbit, and her beautiful metamorphosis into a brave woman who could conquer anything the world had to offer.
Jennifer starts her hike with her now ex-husband and finishes it alone and stronger than before. This is no ordinary memoir or what-have-you, Hiking the CDT, is a gripping first person account that reveals her vulnerability, loneliness, love and anger of the outdoors, and the need for peace and serenity.
This author manages to blend her childhood, her faith, and self-realization into her play by play account of the journey. There is a moment when she must condense her load and she holds her father’s compass in her hands and makes the decision to send it back and rely on GPS. A chill swept over my body placing me behind her to watch her struggle. Emotionally I watched as before me she went from a small child holding on to a bit of her father who was now a victim of cancer with only weeks to leave, to an adult who had to think realistically and do it on her own. I felt her choice had more to do with her way of saying, Dad I can do this on my own, than trying to save a few ounces. There were so many moments like these in this book that by the end I fell into my bed from exhaustion. But when I woke and headed out to work the next day, the world looked so very different to me and then I understood.
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail was more than a story about a wilderness that showed no mercy and took no prisoners. Once this hit me I came to the realization that we all have a CDT and it’s called life. See life gives you now warning, it takes just as much as it gives, loves just as much as it hurts, and it breaks you just as much as it lifts you up. There are people along the way who greet you and offer you a ride and want nothing more than a dinner companion and someone to talk to. There are people who will look at the shell you were born into and confine you to their preconceived notions of your abilities. And then there are those who will leave only to make you stronger.
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail is filled ever changing elements, uncharted paths, devastation, as well as kind of peace that no inventor can create and it will for all intent purposes break you down to rebuild you. Life will test your faith and help you to develop new ones. And if you are lucky it will cradle you in its arms and release you into the atmosphere armed with the knowledge and will to persevere.
Jennifer does all of these things and then some in this book and there are not enough words in the Webster’s Dictionary to convey the impact her book has done to my vision of my future.
As I said before it doesn’t matter if you have never hiked or taken a walk to purposely get lost only to be forced to find your way back. The only adventures I had to compare to Jennifer’s were my trials in life and oddly enough they overlapped. There is another moment that captured my attention when she speaks about an abundance of wind that made her feel unsteady. She closes up her hood to escape the maddening havoc it wreaked on her Vata-Pita body type. This scene reminded me of my fear of silence and how I crave for thoughts of my next literary piece in order to calm me. I understood that minute moment of calamity and in my mind I prepared myself for the next step, her next step, closing my proverbial hood to keep out the maddening silence.
You see, Jennifer Hanson didn’t just write a book for hikers that documents parts of the CDT few have had the privilege to endure, she wrote a manual on how to conquer life and all that it hurls at you. A wonderful added addition to this survival guide is the wealth of information for the avid hiker who wants to follow in her footsteps and take on the Continental Divide Trail. Jennifer shares maps, preparation materials, and reference material amongst much more.
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail: One Woman’s Journey written by Jennifer Hanson, published by Rainbow Books Inc., can be purchased on Amazon, bought from Rainbow Inc. distributor BCH website or by calling their toll free number 1-800-431-1579, as well as on All Books Stores dot com.
Jennifer’s story does not stop with this book. Please stay tuned as I interview her and go further into her coming out story and the story behind Hiking the Continental Divide Trail. A special thanks goes out to Jennifer Hanson for writing this thought provoking masterpiece and Betsy Lampe of Rainbow Books Inc. for reaching out to Lezbelib.com. It was a pleasure ladies.