Northbound Continental Divide 2024: How it Began


     On a crispy autumn day at the end of September 2013, I finish my trek to the Morisset library on the University of Ottawa campus. About 457 miles away, my mom (trail name Trouble) completes her northbound thru-hike of the Appalachian Trail at the tippity top of Mount Katahdin. Busy studying, the thought had never occurred to me that 11 years later, I would begin a similar journey with Trouble as my thru-hiking partner. In any case, here I type, planning my first thru-hike: The Continental Divide Trail, Northbound 2024.

Trouble’s Last Day on the AT

Me standing on a rock, looking a little less accomplished

How it Began

     We started talking about hiking together around Summer 2020. I remember her saying “You should come hike the CDT with me!” Later it was, “When are we going to hike the CDT?” I initially agreed, but don’t know if I really understood at the time what I was signing up for. Our planning was quite slow, and it would be little things like, “Is that the tent that you want to bring on the trail?” Or, “Are those the shoes that you’re going to wear?” It was a process that suddenly became “real real, real quick”. Soon after, the idea of the trail became like a type of Stockholm Syndrome —but for dirtbags!

A Dose of Reality

     According to Halfway Anywhere’s 2022 CDT survey, only 4.8% of thru-hikers started with family, and only 48.5% stayed with their hiking partner.1 I can think of plenty of reasons why people would split up on the trail. Things like personal differences, different goals and pace, finances, injury… We have had plenty of conversations about this topic. Some little practice hikes were also sprinkled in to make sure that we can still stand each other. When you’re hiking with someone, you tend to find out each other’s strengths and weaknesses. (You can also find out if there is anything that they do that annoys the shit out of you!) There is no hiding anything when you are on the trail. Your true colours are revealed.

In Preparation

     Our previous little walks have (so far) proved that we can tolerate each other’s hiking persona. (To tolerate someone’s hiking persona is also to accept the type of crazy that they can become when tired, sick, or hangry on the trail!) Some CDT “practice” hikes were the Juan de Fuca and Sunshine Coast Trails in British Columbia, and the Salkantay Trek to Machu Picchu in Peru. We’ve always been sort of different. I’m more of a plan ahead -type of person and Trouble is more of the fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants and find out what happens -type. A little of each of these should be necessary, so I think we will make it to Canada!

     So far, our bags are virtually “packed”, flights and shuttles booked, and we have even started to make “trail angel” friends… more on all of this next time. Feel free to subscribe to my blog to hear more about my journey planning and thru-hiking the CDT! 


A “little” practice hike in South America 



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Comments 4

  • Jack : Dec 28th

    You go, girl. Just remember, she IS YOUR MOTHER! Always be respectful. She is older and wiser (more experienced in living, not necessarily more intelligent), she raised you and therefore she deserves your respectfulness. Always be nice. A long hike can be a very strong bonding event. Have fun and tell her you love her a lot.

    • Rebecca Lynn Ellis : Dec 28th

      Thanks Jack, I’m sure she’ll appreciate that 🙂
      She’s definitely a lot more experienced when it comes to hiking (this trip will complete her triple crown)!

  • Debbie : Dec 29th

    I know you two can do this and I look forward to enjoying your journey from afar
    I will pray for you both everyday
    Love you both

  • High Profile : Jan 4th

    Starting NOBO mid April. Hope to see you out there!


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