I Only Get to do this For a Few More Weeks

This has been difficult for me to write. It’s not as easy as just recording my thoughts at the end of the day, looking for my photos, and trying to put a description to what I saw or did that day. My focus here is to wrap up two months of emotions and thoughts and feelings.  I’m trying to tie a purpose to walking and vacationing. I know people seem impressed when I tell them what I’ve been up to, but I’m just hiking to the next town to find the best coffee shop and eat the most food.

Midpoint reflections

I’ve reached the halfway point. Both in distance and in time. Distance is less important as I’ve never planned on walking every foot of the trail, but time is. I have less than six weeks to be on the trail. 


My biggest priority was to take time to reflect on my Air Force career and to give myself closure, while also thinking deeply about what is important to me and how I want to spend my time in my next career. To say I found time to think deeply would be an understatement. While I thought I would have a tremendous amount of alone time, there is no way I thought I’d have this much alone time. I know the CDT is a big trail and only hundreds of people attempt it every year, but there are multiple days that have gone by without bumping into another hiker. I’ve camped with other hikers less than ten times over the course of 60 days. That’s probably on the low end of hikers, but that’s some perspective on the amount of alone time I’ve had.

Couple that isolation with the lack of distractions; either cell phone, television, or whatever. And I’ve had an awful lot of time to think deeply about my past and my future.  I’ve seen many other LinkedIn celebrities recommend self-reflection during job transitions and specifically military separation or retirement. But I think they’re recommendation is something like 20 minutes a day, not 8-12 hours a day, 7 days a week, for 60 days.  

With that said I feel great about where I left my Air Force career. I will always look back on those 24 years fondly.

What’s Next: Solving for Awesomeness

The next part is a little bit surprising. I was asked if I’ve had a Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance moment of clarity. And I actually did. I talked a little bit before about my best day with my family at the Hamilton musical on Broadway. And I decided I want the ability to do that more often. You’ll often hear people say that money can’t buy you happiness. I agree for the most part, though being poor can sure make you sad. But I’ve already solved for happiness. I live a fantastic life. I have amazing kids and a loving wife whom I share a deep and intimate relationship with. So I don’t want money to solve for happiness, I want money to solve for awesomeness. 

This was a big change from where I was before I started the trail. I was more altruistic. I was exploring non-profits and organizations focused on the environment and sustainability. I’m not saying you can’t make good money in those areas, but it does get a bit tougher. 

What Lasting Impression do you have that’s Surprised you the Most?

It has been the incredible generosity of people. Some examples include people giving me rides without being prompted, and just about every thru-hiker sharing their food in town or on the trail. People giving me their numbers saying reach out if I need anything.

It reminds me of one thing I’d said earlier about telling the world what you want to accomplish and then watch the world open up with opportunities. When you tell people what you’re trying to accomplish they want to help you get there. So when you tell people your backpack in the Continental Divide Trail and you’re doing it as a transition from the military to the next phase of your life they want to help you. 

What was my Best Day? 

Summiting Grays Peak is the number one day. The days leading up to that were very challenging and getting this flatlander on top 14,000 ft wasn’t an easy task. finishing that climb made me feel like nothing else on the trail could hold me back. Eating Cheetos up there felt like a win. Seeing that ridgeline in the distance and doubting my ability to climb it, but then overcoming was a super awesome feeling.

What was my Favorite Part? 

I’m a huge fan of the Gila. There’s something special about that place; some of it is the fact that you can only get there by walking or I guess maybe canoeing at some points. But really if you want to experience all of it you have to earn it. Yes, the water’s cold, yes, the trail is basically non-existent, and climbing over river stones all day is really tough on your feet. But the views are constantly incredible and there’s some sort of serenity out the place I can’t describe.

What’s Stressing Me Out?

I’m thinking a ton about finding my next career. I know I have a lot to offer, but I’m worried about the timeline. We’re not going to lose our house or anything like that because I don’t have a job but it’s still stressful. I have some hustle in me, so I’ll find ways to make some cash in between now and the next job but it’s still not the same. 

I haven’t perfected the way to market myself but there’s still some time to make that happen. But that’s the biggest stressor for me right now.

What’s my Favorite Trail Town? 

I’m a Silver City fan. It’s the right size for a trail town. It’s very inexpensive and it’s right on trail. If Breckenridge wasn’t so pretentious, they’d probably be higher on the list, but it is pretentious.  I left Silver City thinking I could retire there. 

What’s my Least Favorite Trail Town? 

Lordsburg. It’s really just a truck stop with a couple of hotels. Krannberry’s restaurant is pretty nice, but it’s not enough to make up for the rest of the town. 

How have the Wife and Kids Been?

They’ve been nothing short of amazing. I can’t put into words to support they’ve given me through this adventure. The packages they’ve sent and the notes they’ve given me are incredible.  Any doubts I’ve had about finishing have been pushed aside by their support. I miss them tremendously and look forward to getting home to them soon.

Are you going to talk about peeing more?

I don’t really have any experiences to share. Go talk about it openly because everybody has a quirk. And sometimes that quirk holds his back. But what if you could change your court or something you think is a limiting factor in your life, and then make it a superpower? Wouldn’t you rather have a superpower than a secret?  

And I do it because the subreddit group for paruresis is filled with people who are afraid to tell others about their condition.  And while my blog only gets hundreds of views, it does show that you can tell others and they won’t react negatively.  

Are you going to do another trail and do you consider yourself a thru-hiker?

There’s a 0.1% chance that I do either the AT or PCT in the future. The two trails I would consider doing are the superior hiking trail and the John Muir Trail. Both those are on the shorter spectrum and places I’d like to see.

The only way I’d ever do the AT or PCT is if Alicia or one of my kids woke up and said Dad, would you take me on one of those trails? Otherwise no, not going to happen.

I don’t consider myself to be a thru-hiker. I don’t have a fascination about gear, I don’t think longingly about hiking the next trail and it’s not my thing. 

I chose to do the CDT because the timing worked really well with my retirement, I knew it would be physically challenging, it would give me tons of time for deep thinking and there were tons of epic places to visit that I’ve never been to before. But this is still a onetime deal. 


Thanks again for reading.  I know a thousand people reading a blog isn’t viral, but it surprises me that there are so many people interested in this adventure. Many people reading are a part of the thru-hiker community in one way or another.  But maybe you stumbled onto my blog via LinkedIn or some other platform. And while thru-hiking may not be on your bucket list, there might be something else you always thought of doing if you ‘only had the time.’

For those people, let me tell you that you have the time.  If anything, every day you wait you’re losing that time.  If you need some motivation, think about your last few days of life.  Do you want to think back on how many hours of TV you watched or how many emails you answered at work?  Or do you want to reflect on the amazing things you were able to do?

One day, when I’m standing in line at the Commissary during the lunch rush, I’m going to tell some poor E-4 about what I did after I retired from the military.  And while he’s going to hate it, I’ll look back with fondness and a sense of fulfillment that aside from parenting, I don’t know where you can get anywhere else.

Don’t wait any longer.  Just start.

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Comments 5

  • Alicia : Jul 12th

    You are an inspiration. I’m so glad you were able to make this happen for yourself.

  • Christopher : Jul 13th

    Just start.

    Best advice ever given

  • Leone Marie Quigley : Jul 13th

    You still have over a month left to go. To me that seems like a very long time. Love you my son. Mom

  • Daniel Pickett : Jul 13th

    Reading your trail reports has been a great inspiration to me. At age 82 years, my hiking, backpacking, endurance canoe racing, mountain biking and other adventures are in my rear-view mirror, I can still dream big while following your adventure. I appreciate your advice to all generations. May God bless you in your life journey.

  • Linda : Aug 2nd

    Thank you my freedom and the sacrifices you and your family have made! I’m 75 worked at AFA for many years so your posts have brought much delight to me and just may have to buy a backpack – your mom’s post was heartfelt ♥️ it’s not about thru hike, nobo, sobo, sections it’s about where you are at the moment and the cleansing process! respectfully wishing u & ur family the best 🙂


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