Photo provided by Chris and Kimberly
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My (Postponed) Trail Story by Cyclops and McGoober

Chris and Kimberly, a.k.a. Cyclops and McGoober, were getting ready to start their thru-hike on the Continental Divide Trail when they made a hard decision to postpone their hike.

Natalie McMillan      My Trail Story       04/08/2020
Natalie McMillan
My Trail Story
04/08/2020

CDT 2020! That was the answer for the past 2 years that we (Cyclops and McGoober) would give to the question “Well, what’s next?” since we completed the PCT in 2018. It was the obvious choice for any thru-hiker who has already completed the Appalachian Trail and Pacific Crest Trail. The Triple Crown was in our sights, something we had set out to accomplish years before, it was right there and all we had to do was hike, or so we thought.

Two hikers standing on top of a mountain with their arms up.
Photo by Chris & Kimberly

Like planning for any thru-hike, we had a few challenges along the way. We were expanding our use of social media and working with sponsors and blogs for the first time. These were all headaches that one could expect but overall things were going as planned. When we first started hearing about COVID-19, our only thought was, hopefully we can get out on trail before this starts to spread. Like most people early on, we thought the trail would be the best place to avoid a sickness- there won’t be many people, we’ll be isolated, and as long as travel isn’t restricted we’ll be fine. 

A hiker standing on a trail with a mountain in the background.
Photo by Chris & Kimberly

This was all in early March, about a month away from our last day of work before we took a few weeks to see friends and family before shipping off to New Mexico. Soon, we started reading more about how the virus was spreading and affecting so many communities. We then started thinking, should we push up our start date and get out there sooner? Maybe we shouldn’t see our parents; they are in the “at-risk” age group. Everything was happening so fast that our minds felt like a whirlwind. We ordered our last few pieces of gear the same week we found out that our places of business were in danger of closing. At that time the CDT was recommending rethinking your hikes but still offering shuttle services to the Southern Terminus, so we figured we could still swing it but we weren’t going to risk bringing anything down to our family before we left. The plan was still, if we can get out there we’re going to go. We planned, saved, sublet our apartment, and dreamt about this for years. It was happening dammit.

A man and a woman smiling.
Photo by Chris & Kimberly

Those questions and thoughts racked our brains for what felt like weeks but could only have been a matter of days. It seemed to turn our nightly routine into a stress filled argument about: what to do, what was the plan, and can we afford to quarantine if we get sick out there. Then it finally hit us. If we were worried about bringing something to our parents or catching something on the flight out and getting sick in the middle of nowhere, then why were we going? 

Isn’t it a bit unfair for us to protect our parents by staying away while possibly infecting someone else’s parents in a far more remote town with far less resources? Is it fair to possibly put the stress of first responders to come drag our stubborn asses out of the Gila National Forest, wasting valuable resources? We decided on the only answer that made sense to those questions. It’s time to postpone. 

While the decision was an incredibly difficult one to make, years of planning, thousands of dollars of gear, giving up our apartment, but in the end it felt like the weight of the world was off our shoulders. The very next day, our last at work due to working at non-essential businesses, we knew we made the right choice when the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, Pacific Crest Trail Association and Continental Divide Trail Coalition came out with recommendations for postponing thru-hikes. 

A group of hikers in a line on a trail.
Photo by Chris & Kimberly

Things seem to have slowed down quite a bit since making the call to postpone. We did luck out in a few ways like having understanding subleasers who found another place to live. We are very thankful to be living in a small town in Vermont during this time to keep our minds and bodies active. We live just six miles from a Long Trail trailhead so we are still able to get out and hike while maintaining a proper social distance. While we have an awesome natural place to live and spend time getting through this pandemic, it still doesn’t compare to our CDT dreams. For those who have thru-hiked before, you know the feeling of post-trail depression. It seems COVID has brought the post-trail blues without the trail. Thankfully, we have been through those blues before and have each other to lean on. We also know that the best way past those blues is to stay active and plan the next adventure. 

This doesn’t mean we are giving up on our dreams, the trail will be there, and our gear won’t go bad in the closet for a year. Heck, however unlikely, this could be over for SOBO season. There is no reason to put yourself or others at risk so stay off the trail. The trail could definitely use a year off too. 

A tent with a sunset in the background.
Photo by Chris & Kimberly

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Continental Divide Trail

Considered by many to be the most remote and challenging of the triple crown trails, the Continental Divide Trail is a 3100 mile adventure through five western states.

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3100 mi (4980 km)    $39.99 full guide
Colorado, Continental Divide Trail
Photo by David Getchel
Colorado, Continental Divide Trail
Photo by David Getchel

Continental Divide Trail

Considered by many to be the most remote and challenging of the triple crown trails, the Continental Divide Trail is a 3100 mile adventure through five western states.

3100 mi (4980 km)
$39.99 full guide
Learn more
Get our trail guide for this area!
About the Author
A woman wearing a denim jacket and a brown hat stands in a field of wildflowers.

Natalie McMillan

Natalie grew up hiking in Arizona where she fell in love with the outdoors. Her favorite hikes are to Havasu Falls in the Grand Canyon and Angel’s Landing in Zion National Park, UT. She loves taking pictures of people, places, and nature, which might explain why she has almost 47,000 photos currently residing on her phone. She takes care of all things related to social media and marketing and recently moved to Denver, CO from Flagstaff, AZ. You may find her frolicking around the trails and mountains of Colorado, or exploring the new city she gets to call home.