How Refusing to Blog Turned into Writing a Blog and a Book

I’m a writer. So when I decided to hike the Colorado Trail in 2016, people assumed they could follow my 500-mile journey, step by step, because I would write a blog.

When I told them I wouldn’t be blogging, they looked at me like I had two heads.

At a low point in my life last year, I started to despise writing. Writing was no longer a labor of love for me, it was simply labor. I would sit glassy-eyed at my desk, stringing words together like parts on an assembly line, clocking in and out at my PC each day to pay the bills.

Last summer’s five-week hike was designed to get me off the factory floor and into the fresh air. It was the biggest gift I had ever given myself – an act of self-care so extreme that I couldn’t ignore the fact that I was worth caring for. And, like a true gift, I didn’t want any strings attached. Meaning, I didn’t want my hike to get hijacked by a work assignment, the heaviness of deadlines, and my tendency to put others first. I needed a vacation from writing for others.

So I set some “writing ground rules” before I started my hike.

  1. I would not pitch my hike to a publication and take a writing assignment with me on the trail.
  2. I would not blog during my hike.
  3. I would write in my journal every day.
  4. If I decided to write about my experience after it was over, then great, and if I never wrote about it beyond the pages of my journal, then no worries.

I’m so glad that I stuck to my ground rules. I wrote in a simple spiral-bound journal at night, with a little stub of pencil I sharpened with my pocket knife. I unplugged. I recharged. And in the process of hiking and scribbling for five weeks, I fell in love with writing again.

Around mile 100, I was hiking along and stopped dead in my tracks as a thought came hurtling toward me – a changeup pitch from the Universe. It landed soundly with a satisfying smack in my mental catcher’s mitt. I hung on to it, this pitch meant for me, stunned that it hit me so hard. “I’m going to write a book,” I whispered to the trail and trees and clouds and birds. Then I grinned, and shouted to the sky, “I’m GOING to WRITE a FUCKING BOOK!”

And so I am. I’m writing a memoir with the working title Serendipity on the Trail.

When I returned home from the CT, I transcribed all my journals and audio clips, I developed an outline, and I wrote and recorded an essay for Out There Podcast called “The Motherload” as a way to stick my toe in the water before diving into the deep end of writing my first book. In “The Motherload,” I share why I left home, what happened on the trail, and how that experience turned my life upside down for the better. While this podcast episode includes only a fraction of my story, it’s raw and it's real, and it's a great teaser for the upcoming book.

And the blog you’re reading right now happens to be the inaugural blog post on my new website. Thanks for reading it through to the end.

Future posts will cover stories from my CT thru-hike, lessons learned from the trail, and a lot of flailing as I write my first book. Maybe I’ll share some recipes. And pictures of my cats being assholes.

I’m also heading back to the CT for a few weeks this summer to gather more details for my book. And who knows? I might even post a blog or two.