I have made the decision to quit my job at the end of June, spend the summer with my husband and kids hiking the 480-mile Colorado Trail, and write a book.
That's the elevator pitch. Here's a little more about what I'm thinking to make such a crazy, life-altering, possibly poverty-inducing leap:
Why the Colorado Trail? Why now? What's this book going to be about?
Twenty years ago, two young kids who had been dating for about a year, ten months of which was long-distance, embarked on a two-month hiking trip which tested them in ways unimaginable and cemented their love and relationship forever. Those kids were C and me, and we expected our lives to continue on the adventurous path on which they had begun, but instead we worked a series of crappy jobs, moved back-and-forth between Colorado and Maine, got real jobs, got married, had kids, built a house, settled down.
Meanwhile, exactly five years ago, my career, such as it was, completely tanked (or, more accurately, was torpedoed). I won't go into details, because it's an ugly chapter I'm looking forward to putting behind me (though if you google me you will get an inkling of what took place). In the years since then, I got my MFA in creative writing, completed the Maine Master Naturalist training course, and started teaching nature writing and nature journaling workshops, while plugging away at writing and publishing short stories and essays with nature/environment/motherhood themes.
I'd like to say I was taking adversity and turning it into opportunity, but in reality I was staying in perpetual motion just to stay sane. I was depressed and miserable a lot of the time, but I was a highly functional depressed person, maintaining a facade of normalcy, even high-productivity (except the times when I cracked, which C will tell you is not a pretty sight).
Somewhere along the way, I got the idea of going back and revisiting the Colorado Trail 20 years later and writing a book about the changes that had taken place in Colorado over the intervening two decades--wild fires, bark beetle infestations, drought, mine waste spills, population influx, pot legalization--as well as those that had taken place in my life during that time. It took literally years (and one of those crack-up episodes) to convince C that this was something I had to do and that I was doing it whether he was on board or not, so he got on board quick and now we're doing it!!
I've been very distracted with planning and prepping and daydreaming over the last few months. I've been neglecting not only my own blog but also my usual blog haunts, instead binge-reading trail diaries of thru-hikers on various trails. But now that the secret's out, I think I'll be back here more regularly, and my blog fare will become even more eclectic, with gear lists and food prep and training and other trip-planning details, along with some of my usual material. I long ago threw out the advice that a blog should focus on a single topic, so why start now?
As for blogging from the trail, I've maintained from the start that I want to completely unplug for the trip, because I want to engage fully with the natural world and with my children (this is hard to do with screen in hand) and also I don't want to dissipate my creative energy that should go toward journaling with the book in mind. But, I've had a lot of people ask me if I'll post from the trail, so my determination to unplug may wane. In either case, C plans to vlog the trip (i.e. video blog at his youtube channel), so be sure to follow our adventures there.
There's so much more to say but this is already a ridiculously long post and if you've read this far, stay tuned for more news as the day grows nearer.