The Big Eight. My Reasons To Hike the CDT

It’s the beginning of the third month of sitting on the couch and barely moving. Since mid-October, I cumulatively walked 8 miles and that’s not even a metaphor, it’s a literal, exact number. So does it seems like the worst possible time to write my list why do I plan to thru-hike CDT in 2023? Or, on the contrary, is it the best occasion?

But let’s get back to the very beginning. Over two months ago I had a small bike accident with serious consequences. I was casually coming back home from the city center and some other biking girl was overtaking and slightly hit me. It was just 200 yards from my home, but instead of getting home, out of a sudden, I was getting to the hospital for surgery. I had two (means both) broken bones in my left leg, one was dislocated and required surgery plus a collection of 6 screws, and a titanium plate.

Straighten up!

Straighten up!

Now, after over two months of lying on the couch, I’m rather at a low point in my life. Frankly, *everything* that I do – my job, my biggest passion, my free time, my way to make myself happy, but also the way how I define myself – is based on being a super active person (you can read more about it in this welcoming post). Besides, due to the accident, I lost a huge journalistic project I was preparing for the whole previous year and which was supposed to start just 3 days later. Right now I’m spending a whole bunch of money on physiotherapy to get back on my feet. Every day I do the very same exercises over and over again for 2 to 4 hours. One painful step at a time. I’m trying to do my best, but still not sure where exactly I will end up (although my physiotherapists are perfectly aware of my plans and they are fighting for my thru-hike equally hard as I do). What I’m trying to say through all of this – the inability to move has a huge impact on my mental state and I need to strongly keep on track to remember my reasons why I want to hike the CDT in 2023.

Of course, it all makes me want to finish the CDT even more. But – actually – I bought my plane ticket to Phoenix last summer, as the CDT thru-hike was all planned and determined a couple of months before the accident. That being said, proving that I can walk 3200 miles after the surgery is *not* the leading reason for my CDT attempt.

So, let’s make a list of my reasons. The Internet loves the lists 🙂

1. That’s what I do

I’ve been an adventurer my whole life. In the mountains, in the oceans, in the tundra, and in the deserts. Going for long, challenging, and mainly alone expeditions is not only my way of spending my time and enjoying myself, but also it strongly defines me. CDT is a natural consequence of my way of living.

2. I’m in love with American trails

Although I’m not sure yet if I’m aiming for the Triple Crown, I’m madly in love with American long-distance trails. Seriously, I’m not trying to win the good graces of American readers, I’m just totally hooked on your blazes. I hiked the PCT in 2017 (and some other trails in Alaska) and that gave me a sneak peek into hiking culture in the US which is widely different from the one we have in Europe. I love its feeling of collectiveness and that particular enthusiasm that numbs everything around the trails. Not to mention the scale of the great outdoors. There are very, very few places in Europe that have a similar feeling of vastness, but none of them are as big.

Kamila Kielar Pacific Crest Trail

3. I need a break

Covid and lockdowns impacted heavily my way of living and it was impossible for me to go on a big adventure outside Europe for definitely too long (the last adventure was biking through deserts in Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan in the fall of 2019). That means I had an extended period of time filled with hard work. I’m more than ready to hit the trail again.

4. To keep strong for helping others

Living in Poland during those times means for me helping refugees from Ukraine since late February – as a human, journalist, and activist. Also, there is an ongoing humanitarian crisis on our other border (with Belarus) and I’m engaged in this one too. It’s impossible for me to do nothing in those situations so acting is obvious, much needed, and the right thing to do, no doubt about that. But it’s emotionally draining as hell. I hit the point where I have to take some longer time off for myself not to break down and be able to keep helping others.

5. Quality time with my partner

This time I’m not embarking on another solo adventure, my partner Tomek is going to join me. It is an unreplaceable opportunity to get amazing, valuable time together. Of course, I know that it will be challenging sometimes to hike as a couple, but the profits of hiking with your loved one are definitely huge and I’m going to take an advantage of them.

Kamila Kielar Fagaras Romania
6. Life is short

…and there are always important things to do dragging away from going for a long adventure. Work, projects, family, friends, career – it’s extremely easy to soak into the whole bunch of reasons why the presence in your hometown is necessary. And it goes like that day after day, month after month, and then, out of a sudden, a huge amount of time just slipped through fingers. I just don’t wanna realize one day that I hadn’t moved an inch, I’m really aware that things can change in the blink of an eye, and once there may be *a real* reason not to go. I truly believe that postponing such an adventure for an undefined future will only result in frustration and the feeling of missing the chance. I don’t want this.

7. To take care of myself

Long-distance hiking is good for my mental health – checked and proven many times. As a person extremely sensitive to overstimulation, finding myself in the mountains and woods for half a year is a great treat for me. Also, despite tens of other big adventures, I’ve never felt happier in my entire life than while hiking the PCT. (That comparison was actually an interesting observation).

8. To get stronger after my accident.

To get back my confidence that I will be able to do the things that I love and that are good for me besides the nasty challenges I’m facing right now. Simply, to keep going.

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Comments 5

  • Jonathan Carter : Jan 23rd

    These are all sound reasons. Have you and your partner done other thru hikes together?

    • Kamila Kielar : Feb 10th

      Yes, we did 🙂 All went smoothly!

  • Julie : Feb 16th

    Oh Kamila, I hope you are healed now and back out in the wild world. If not now, I do not doubt that you will be soon. And you are so right about the human tendency to find “reasons” not to go, and about the inevitable, irretrievable passage of time, and how all can change in an instant.

    • Kamila Kielar : Feb 17th

      I’m getting better – still a lot of work to do, but I’m getting there slowly but surely. Next week I’m going for a first multiday hike since the accident which is a big step. I still cannot jump though 😉


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