Adrianne Gass

Profile of a CDT Thru-Hiker

Perhaps the bug hit on that summer day, sitting atop Garfield, watching the trees in the valley below dancing green in the wind. After you've experienced that feeling of timelessness, of eternity at your fingertips, aware of each moment, not separated, but seamless, without beginning or ending, there is no going back. There you are, addicted to mountains. I suppose there are worse things to be addicted to.

I recently graduated from Brown, where I received a B.A. in Environmental Studies. I am 22 years old and from the town of Westminster, Massachusetts. I worked for the Appalachian Mountain Club for three seasons as a backcountry caretaker and as Hut Croo. I have been on Outward Bound. These experiences, among others, have shaped and deepened my love for, interest in, questions about, connection with, and wonder in the presence of the wilderness.

Along with the mountains themselves, I also love walking. It is while hiking, living outdoors, having my body worked, and feeling the connection to the natural world that I feel most whole and complete as a human. Life feels a little simpler, more cohesive, and alive. Perhaps it's this Shangri-la I'm searching for when I hike. There are also the practical challenges of the CDT that are getting me out on the trail. I'm excited for the navigation and planning, as well as the physical and mental stamina that are required to complete a trail that isn't finished yet. And there is the land itself.

Having just graduated, I'm faced with the question, "What do I do with all I've learned?" I've been given the gift of knowledge, and now I must face what it means and how I want to use it. I see the trail as a way to understand myself better, which will hopefully help me to make clearer decisions in the rest of my life. I am not expecting to be imparted with lightning bolts of wisdom, but I do hope to gain clarity. I also want to deepen my sensitivity to the natural world surrounding me, to become more aware of weather and temperature changes, and to feel my existence inextricably tied to them and everything else around me.

Published: 30 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication


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