Saturday, March 25, 2017

Writing the Colorado Trail

The whole (purported) purpose of quitting my job and hiking the Colorado Trail last summer was to write a book about the hike, a hike on the same trail C and I took 20 years ago, and the social and environmental changes that took place in the mountains during those two decades (there were many ulterior motives as well, but we don't need to get into those here).

Writing a book is a HUGE undertaking. Not only do I have to take journal notes from two separate six- to nine-week hikes and turn them into a coherent narrative, I have to research, digest, and summarize in an engaging way such things as water rights and reclamation, fire suppression, mining, climate change, public lands, grazing, recreation, and about two billion years of plate tectonics, uplift, and erosion. No problem. The writing and research are moving forward apace now, but I did take a little bit of a break from about November into February. I think it was a necessary period of senescence, letting the thoughts and experiences marinate a bit before turning to the monumental task of information-gathering. But I was not entirely idle during that time: I worked on several shorter pieces, some of which pertain to the hiking of the trail, two of which went live last week:

On, "How Being a Mom Helped Me Hike 500 Miles," a short list of ways that my experience of being a mom made hiking the trail easier than it had been 20 years ago.

At Mothers Always Write, "Five Hundred Miles," an essay about sharing the trail experience with my teenage son.

If you're game, please check them out and let me know what you think. And if you do the social media thing, I'd love it if you shared either or both on Facebook or Twitter.


  1. I tried to comment this on the Mothers Always Write page, but got an error message 3x. So I'll post it here regarding your essay there:
    "Absolutely loved this piece. Easy to read, rich with imagery (I especially like the food and weather/temperature descriptions - brought me clearly into the scene), and you still managed "feel good vibes" within a realistic narration. I am not a parent but have elsewhere experienced your theory of life in the moment vs in retrospect and how each brings different levels of perspective and enjoyment. Thanks for sharing!"

  2. Hi Andrea- I read your piece 500 miles and commented on Mothers Always write and I shared it as well. I appreciate your writing and your inspiration to take our kids on long nature journeys. I have not backpacked for over 20 years though I have taken my four kids hiking and camping often but they want to backpack now. Two are out of the house now so this summer I am embarking on taking my girls , (14 and 16 ) on a four day backpacking excursion to get back into it. I am a little nervous since I have a terrible sense of direction and worry about getting lost, but also very excited. Have you written any pieces on tips for backpacking with the family? I subscribed to your blog. Incidentally, I am a writer too and your essay made me realize I need to write a piece about my 31 days roadtrip from Pa to Montana with my kids in 2006. Also, since one of my topics is grief, to write about grief and hiking. Thanks! And keep going on your book. It will be great.

    1. Hi Robin. Just discovered this comment in my "awaiting moderation" folder. I hope your backpacking trip with your daughters went well. I look forward to reading about your adventures!


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