When Perk arrived at my house in Alabama from New York, I already knew it–he wasn’t ready. His pack likely had no gear in it, he hadn’t settled on a supply of food and his taxes weren’t complete. As I greeted him at the door I asked, “Hey Perk, are you ready?!” His response was a smirk, then several quick bats of the eyes, and then he heartily laughed, “What do you think?”
Perk and I have been friends since the Smokey Mountains during our Appalachian Trail (AT) thru-hikes in 2015. We were both one of ten “tramily” members of a group of solo-hikers that bonded and formed along the way. We all only hiked as a group for a few hundred miles, but made a lifetime of memories.
Perk and I also started hiking the Pacific Crest Trail (PCT) together last year in 2017, and although we got separated for about 700 miles, we managed to finish together. We both knew it couldn’t stop there so decided we to complete this long journey known as the “Triple Crown of Hiking,” which includes completing the AT, PCT, and CDT. Two down, one to go! The CDT will be a whole new challenge as it spans 3,100 miles from Mexico to Canada through New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho and Montana though plains, mountains and even grizzly country!
So, when Perk made it to Alabama to begin our road trip west to the CDT, I was pretty excited. I went outside and helped him tote in multiple tubs of gear and bags of food from his car, as I had the year before when we were preparing to depart for the PCT. We caught up briefly and then he showed me the one piece of gear that he was sure he was carrying, a ukulele.
In fact, he explained that he’s ditched his trekking poles in exchange for the uke as he’s going to force himself to learn it because it will be in his hands the entire way. He’s hoping it will multi-purpose as a way to keep bears away. “Hike your own hike, Perk,” I joked. Anyone who has done a thru-hike or two is probably sick of hearing that sentiment as it has been used to death, resuscitated, and then murdered again.
After a few days of running errands, doing taxes and dialing in on gear, we both were ready to go. Perk and I loaded his car with our things and set off to get Aaron, the third crew member on this journey. Aaron is a friend of mine from Alabama. He has been editing my YouTube videos for about two years and decided he was sick of just looking at the footage in his dark home in Alabama. He asked me if I’d be okay with him joining for the CDT adventure and I told him yes! It will be fun because not only is this Aaron’s first thru-hike, but also his first backpacking trip.
I think everyone should do a thru-hike as it expands the mind and alters perspective, at least it has for me. So, we managed to work out details of how we would make the videos work, Aaron gathered some gear and we were ready to roll.
Our final destination was Perk’s friend’s house in Estancia, NM. He agreed to watch Perk’s car for the duration of the hike, and generously offered us a place to stay and a shuttle down to the southern terminus. On our way to Estancia, though, we made a few stops along the way.
First, we stopped off to see “The Orr’s.” They are a family of nine, and seven of them hiked the Appalachian Trail the same year Perk and I did. The two parents, Queen Bee and Bumble Bee, are SAINTS as they managed to get themselves and their five children from Georgia to Maine. The kids ranged from ages 10-22 at the time! Anyway, they reside in Burleston, TX which is kind of on the way to New Mexico, so worth a stop in to catch up.
If you’d like to learn more about them and their journey on the AT, you can read their trail journal entries HERE.
Next, we visited Perk’s Aunt and Uncle in Denton, TX. They are a sweet couple and are so hospitable when you stay at their home. They gave us all a place to rest, fed us and sent us on our way!
Finally, we were passing through Amarillo and just had to stop off to see “The Cadillac Ranch.” If you’ve never been there, you’re missing out on quite the artistic expression. Several models of Cadillacs have been speared into the ground at a 45 degree angle and probably contain thousands of layers of paint as passers-by stop to decorate them daily. It’s a nice place to stretch the legs anyway, and to see something…different!
It was kind of a different experience for me because just 4 years ago around that same time I had visited Cadillac Ranch for the first time. I was on a business trip from Colorado (where I was living at the time) to Houston and decided to go sight seeing along the way. I had my dog son, Hank, with me and we had a great time together. Unfortunately, though, this was a very dark time in my life. My job was making me absolutely miserable—made me question my worth, put an unbearable amount of stress on me and so much more that isn’t worth getting into here.
It was surreal to stand there in the same place, several years later, and after a complete overhaul of my life. It was as if this scene of old tattered cars was a time machine and knew that someday I’d be back here to reflect. I saw the ghost of my past self floating through from car to car, talking to Hank and spray-painting our names on one of them.
I walked up and touched the car that my past self had painted and wished I could reach back through in time and reassure her that somehow everything would be okay. I smiled as I remembered, though, that she knew that even back then.
As Aaron, Perk and I walked back to Perk’s car, it dawned on me that this triple crown journey began with me quitting my job in Colorado and escaping the rat race to go hike the AT…and this final trail, the CDT, would take me back through that area. How interesting it is when life comes full circle from time to time.
The next day we arrived at Perk’s friend’s farm in Estancia, NM. I went to Walmart to resupply and mailed myself packages ahead. I decided my first would be to Hachita, NM (about 40 miles from the border). I didn’t want to carry a week’s worth of food starting out if I didn’t have to.
I wish I could tell you that our travels down to Deming, NM and then to the southern terminus was seamless, but that wasn’t the case at all. Using google maps we decided to navigate ourselves to the terminus. Turns out the route we mapped out had some impassable gravel roads. After hours of trying to reach the terminus and failing, we went BACK to Deming to stay another night. I wasn’t thrilled about the delay, but it was a learning experience. I will post detailed directions in the future with pictures to help anyone wanting to reach the terminus!
Although the correct route to the terminus is also a couple hours of rough-riding dirt roads, I am happy to report that we didn’t have to wait for “the third time is a charm” and nailed it the second time! At about 11am on April 5th, I found myself standing at the southern terminus, Crazy Cook Monument, of the Continental Divide Trail thinking, “Well, here we go again…let’s do this.”
Thank y’all for tuning in to following my journey—more to come here soon! Don’t miss my videos of this journey on YouTube or if you’re into podcasts and want more “real-time info” check out the podcast I was asked to be a part of during the duration of my CDT thru-hike at: www.hikingradionetwork.com
Good luck! I love following your adventures!
DIXIE!!!!! I live in Burleson Texas!!!! What a small world! I’ve been watching your videos since you were in the AT!!! You are so great and an inspiration. Good luck to you on this trail. Hope your toenails don’t fall off. ????. Next time you’re in Burleson I’d love to meet you!
WOW! What a small world. Haha. Thank you!! 🙂
We would love to see you too. Maybe you could stop here in Burleson and we could provide some pre trail magic. At a local steak house. Or even my house in Joshua. ????
The Wolf’s in Joshua TX
Kim Sam and Leo
Me and my wife love your hikes on youtube. We are almost 69 years old and still hike.jeff and Nellie.
Thanks for sharing Dixe look forward to following your journey ????????????????
You’re such an inspiration! Hope you’re having the time of your life 🙂
All ready seen the two videos you put up. Thank you. Good luck with your hike. I will be watching. Hike on
Very heartfelt thank you!
I’ve been watching your videos for some time now on YouTube. Super impressed with your take-it-on-and-make-it-happen attitude. I’m 69 – time is precious, and every day is significant. Owning this reality is necessary at this point in life. Thanks for a dramatic reminder. Ang good luck on the CDT – looking forward to more updates as you progress toward Canada.
Sounds like you had a mini adventure before the big adventure! Speaking of Denton, Texas I grew up in Lake Dallas (it is just south of Denton). Husband is in the Army so I don’t live there anymore, but 90% of my family still lives there lol.
Well, Jessica, although much has changed for you since you began the AT, and, are at this moment waking up somewhere in NM for another day of hiking on the CDT, I am curious as to the affects on external influences on your main objectives (MO).
What does that mean? There is one immutable fact regarding the challenges of thru-hiking: the MO is the hike itself. All efforts on every detail; regardless of how minute; must be considered. I think that this was your MO for the AT. That, plus the unknown. Very exciting stuff, indeed!
But, you had just begun videoing your experiences, and had a handful of subscribers. It turned out so successful that you videoed the PCT, which is when I began following you.
Your subscriptions grew and grew, and you now have an amazing 100,000+! You are also a bit of a celebrity with the trail hiking sect.
My point? There is now so much
more external pressures on you that have little to do with the functional aspects of the hike. With over 100,000 people cheering you on now I cannot imagine the pressure you must be feeling to not only complete this arduous hike, but to send out fascinating, quality videos each week. I fear that the worn out adage of “biting off more than you can chew” might apply here.
At the risk of sounding patronizing, I would like to say that your obvious high intelligence should not allow this to ruin your trip, and create divisiveness with the other 2 members of your triumvirate. If your attempts at steering your hike more toward a great video segment; at the expense of what is right for the actual hike; there will be mistakes that will cease being interesting clips.
Who am I too lecture you, or anyone, for that matter? No one significant. Just someone who finds you to be a fascinating woman, and enjoyed your PCT videos. I watch so few because they bore me.
My wife and I will be looking forward to your CDT experiences. We usually sit down to dinner together and watch your most recent video (she is currently completing the AT). I told her that I was a bit concerned after Episode 1. There are signs of conflict. Please prove me wrong!
Thanks for your support, Rick! Not really sure what you’re referring to, to be honest. Divisiveness? Mistakes that will cease being interesting clips? Could you be more specific on what signs of conflict? I don’t think I’m following. I hope you continue to enjoy them as much as I enjoy capturing the experience. Happy Trails!
Oh my. How do you find the time to respond to the many, many people that write to you? Thank you.
Jessica, I cannot articulate anything specific that would support my observations. It was something that I felt after watching Episode 1. I guess it is analogous to detecting something that doesn’t feel quite right about a person you just met, even though they haven’t exhibited anything to warrant it.
I do not want to bore you with my cryptic posts, so I will refrain from continuing with speculative philosophy!
I guess that this stems from a selfishness on my part. I really admire “Dixie”. She is the star of your videos. She is the part of you that is the independent, adventurous woman that we all love.
I wanted to know Jessica, also. I guess that I was writing to Jessica. Melville had written about a pasteboard mask that we all wear. If you want to really know someone you have to punch through that mask and get to that “lower inner layer”, where the soul abides. (This is sans verbatim, I am sure.)
I like you so much because you are one of the very few that is pretty much ‘what you see is what you get’. Pretty much. At least based on what we can from your videos. It is why you have a great following. You are sincere. In my selfishness I feared that some of that might be lost.
I am so sorry, Jessica. I am rambling on with wording that is esoteric to most. And, probably silly. But, I have this feeling that you get it. You just might be as much into philosophy as I am (Socrates, Plato, Locke, Bacon…)
Ok. I am done! Be safe, and thank you for the response. I enjoyed Episode 2, and was frustrated with people. How can anyone be so indolent? How hard was it to return that water ???? sprout to the way it was found? And, your kindness to that kid made my wife tear up!
Oops. Maybe that should be “calf” instead of “kid”. At least they both begin velar, i.e. tongue to velum.
At the risk of sounding patronizing, thank you Tony Stark! Dixie has one goal, experience the journey and do it the best she can. She doesn’t think of potential problems in order to live. Hike your hike! Love you Jessica
Is that a poke at my post through an Iron Man reference? Sorry if I don’t get it. I read Tolstoy, Chekhov, Plato, Locke, etc. I do not dabble in Stan Lee’s classics. I think that you have to purchase comic books.
We may have different reading tastes but we share one thing: supporting Dixie. I am one of her Level 6 Patreons. I am sure that you are, also.
Good on ya, mate. Well done and said.
Just words. Nothing personal. We are all here to support Dixie. Some playful banter is ancillary to that objective.
Your vernacular (“mate”) makes me think Aussies. Are you from the great down under?
I have just re-read my posts and I am embarrassed. What was it that compelled me to offer such nebulous, negative thoughts? They have no place here.
I know that I was deep into Plato’s Republic, and I must have been influenced by Adeimantus and his sophist views.
Anyway, I apologize. I am still enjoying your videos, and, have provided a couple of Benjamin’s to help fund your trip. My contributions are more in the realm of remuneration. Payment for all of your time and effort to provide inspiring, fun videos.
Stay safe. Stay you. We really like that “you” (disregard the homophone).
Ok. That reference to Plato should have had Thrasymachus as the influence on sophist views.
I know. Who cares? Hey, I am certain that there are other followers of Dixie who read the great thinkers of days of old, and would note my error.
You are the bee’s knees! Great composition for a new book! I look forward to your adventure!
You’re a great inspiration to many. Best of luck on CDT!
Good luck, Dixie! I’ll be following your adventure!
Followed you on Youtube for some time now. Planning on making my triple crown one day too.
I’m from the UK and after hiking around South East Asia last year with friends, I planned a 7,000 mile roadtrip and Hike around America and Canada this year! We leave in under a month now actually and hit up loads of sections of the PCT (Obviously only in tiny chunks ????).
My Dad also has Plantar Fasciitis and I think you’ve inspired him to get back into backpacking too! As I’ve planned this trip, he’s had orders for tents and gear coming through quicker than me! He’s not too keen on me going through grizzly country or any part of bear country but your videos have helped!
I’ll make sure the remainder of my gear gets ordered through your amazon link to say thank you!
Keep doing you!
Thank you, Dave!! So glad to hear you and your dad are fellow adventurers. I hope you have a WONDERFUL time on your journey. That sounds absolutely amazing. Happy Trails!
Happy Birthday! So funny about finding such a soft and mushy gift on your Bday! So the baby calf found “trail magic” after all; the Circle of Life continuing. Thanks for inspiring us armchair hikers!
Rocky Mountain Druid,
Hello ill get right to it and not waste to much of your time. First and foremost I have enjoyed your videos and the advice and greatly appreciate it. Now me and my wife are planning the Pacific Northwest Trail(PNT) for 2019 and was wondering if you had considered it or were already planning to do it. If your nobo on the CDT the PNT start point is at the terminus of the CDT and heads west to the Pacific Ocean. Now the PNT isn’t as established as the AT CDT or the PCT its very much wilderness only became a official trail in 2009 and its also shorter comes in at 1200 miles. Was just wondering your thoughts on it.
May you blase your own trail through the forest of life.
Hey there! Thank you for your support and for reaching out 🙂 I haven’t really considered the PNT. Once I get the triple crown (hopefully this year), I’ll be ready to move onto some international trips, I think. It may be something I consider in the future, though 🙂
Happy Trails to y’all and good luck on your journey!
Also hit me up if you need anything when u hit Rocky Mountain National park I don;t live to far from there and can probably help out in way of a ride to town or odds and ends you might need and we have some good mountaineering shops in the surrounding area if you need something specific.
we follow you from Berlin, Germany, Europe. We are the people who have to thank your Ex-President Ronald Reagan “Tear down this wall!” on 12. Juni 1987. 🙂 Thanks for that again and thank you for letting us be a part of your journey. It is so cool to see you guys in real-time. We keep our fingers crossed for you!
You are also part of our blog now, check out: https://tramunquiero.eu/blog-continental-divide-trail/
If you would leave a comment to our blog post where we are introducing your CDT Trip, this would be great!
Good luck and Bon Camino like the Spanish from the Camino de Santiago say.
Sarah from Tramunquiero (“I love Tramuntana”)
supported you a lot on our site. Thank you for your comments!
My kids and I love you! I’m not great at social media bc they are away at school. We want to send you (all) a care package. Let us know when is good, and what u need. God Bless, Jimmycrab
So Dixie, thinking of going hiking with a passport next time? You can’t go past the Te Araroa Trail (TA) here in New Zealand. My brothers and I did it in 2016, just magic! As a result, one of us ( Wannabebiker) is coming over to do the PCT in 2019 and I’m planning to do the AT in 2020. Our blog was: caminoteararoa.wordpress.com
Safe travels & thankyou for the inspirational vlogs!
I think that’s next on my list! Hope y’all enjoy the PCT and AT 🙂
Hey there Dixie, love the cdt videos so far , like the earrings too , lol gotta look good even if ya stink ey 😉 lol.
I’m sure your dad would have been very very proud of your life choices so far.
So does Arron have a trail name yet ?
Thank you!! I think, “Rogue, but he hasn’t really gone by it yet. Haha.
Hi Dixie, you can always tell the folks in life that found there niche… their karma radiates, their smiles make ya feel like the first morning sunshine. Soooo glad that you found what makes you bliss. Thank you for sharing what makes you happy… P.S. Praying to the podiatry gods for you.
Hi Dixie, videos are awesome as always 🙂
Just curious if you’ve met any thru hikers on any of your hikes yet that do Not use a puffy coat ? And dont you ever worry about it getting wet ? (If it’s down filled)
Hope your day is filled with wonderful views and fresh water 😉
Thank you for sharing your journey with us, Dixie. I love reading, and watching all the new content you’re always putting out for us.
Jessica / Dixie,
Loving your content, knowing you are out there making dreams come true, experiencing life as you do is an inspiration. This CDT trip has been a bit more complicated I’m sure and I appreciate you letting those of us who care for you know you are alright when you can. I think of you often and cant wait for Wednesdays to see your newest realease’s! Have a great hike!
I wait every Wednesday to see the bell alert that you’ve uploaded another CDT video.
Thank you so much for spending your time giving all of us this cool information and telling us these fun stories. You make such good content. Thanks again xoxo.
I’m enjoying your videos very much. Love them all, but, really liking your CDT journey!
Safe travels and take care!
Love all your great content and photos. Would love to see some Mavic photos too.
Get it girl!! So excited for the new season. I retire in 4 years and I’ll start chasing down these thru hikes. I’ve section hiked a couple spots on the CDT and it was great! Have a blast and be safe!!!
I wish i was ther
Hey Dixie, you should out this Aussie girl who is attempting to be the first woman to WALK THE LENGTH OF THE WROLD! She has been walking for over a whole year now. Search Tangles and Tail if you want to see what a new challenge might look like!
Best of luck and safe travels!
Love watching your journey. Best of luck.
So glad I came across your channel and blog. You have definitely inspired me. Keep being awesome!
Your the best Dixie! Love following your adventures! Good luck to you on the rest of your CDT journey!!
I love watching your adventures. It has made me want to start backpacking and also now my daughter wants to start planning a trip to section hike the AT!
Love your Trail “movies” and getting to know Perk!! Can’t wait to see the rest of your CDT journey! Thanks for getting me interested in hiking, so far my furthest hike has been 5 miles at some sandy, Michigan, dunes! Hike on!
After binge watching your AT & PCT I don’t know if I can stand to wait for weekly updates…LOL Just wanted you to know I appreciate all the effort you have made producing the educational videos too. I’ve learned a lot that will help my own hikes! Thank you and be safe!
Howdy Dixie. Just wanted to say what an inspiration you are. I’m at the NOC right now on a hike of indeterminate length of my own due in no small part to watching your videos and catching the wanderlust myself. Keep being you, cause the you that you are kicks all manner of ass.
Just discovered your YouTube channel. Am looking forward to seeing the CDT trip get into Colorado (my old stomping grounds).
Its amazing to see how far you have come. From a beginner on the A.T. to soon achieving a triple crown! You are truly an inspiration.Keep doing all you do in true hiker trash fashion. Safe travels Dixie cant wait to see what life’s adventures have in store for you.
Good luck! You’re an inspiration!!!
I can’t wait to see your you tube light up so I can watch your videos on where & what you have been doing!! I found your page the in 2017 and have followed your PCT hike..On our trip to Yosemite, I saw where the trail crossed the interstate..I was so stinking excited to see it, but at the same time thought, OMGEE!! You rock girl & I love keeping up with what you are doing. Keep it up & God Bless you!!
Happy Hicking Dixie
From Jerry Touchstone in Southeast Louisiana.
Thanks for the contest. Forced me to sign up at your website and instagram and pateron and your blog! Thank you cause i found so much more Dixie!!!!
Good luck Dixie looking forward to GNP
Perk has his ukulele, and you mentioned a harmonica in a video. Have y’all been able to play with each other? WDE
Love following you along the trail! After coming from not even camping really to hiting the AT, then the PCT, and now this! Wow girl! My wife loves you and has expressed wanting to do a trip like this. Thanks for inspiring her and myself to start planning our trip.
Dixie, thanks a lot! You inspired me to go out and start hiking. Already researching all the gear I need.
Cheering you on as you walk the long walks, and preparing for my first 3 day 2 night trip to Pine Mountail Trail (FDR SP, GA) in two weeks. Yay! War Eagle! Thanks for the inspiration! ????????♀️
Safe travels, Dixie!
Thank you SOOOOOOOOO MUCH for being such an inspiration to us all, Dixie! Keep on the excellent work, and PLEASE keep sharing with us all your experiences, expertise, and passion. Any plans for hiking North of the border? We have great long distance trails up here! ????
Thank you! No plans yet, but ya never know 🙂
Love watching your videos of the hikes you do. Be safe and have fun.
What a wild landscape! good luck for the rest of the CDT
You are an inspiration! Thanks for sharing your journeys and opening doors for all of us the learn more and be inspired to take the plunge into the wild.
I think it’s awesome that Aaron is going with you this time. The CDT seems like a really intimidating trail for a first thru-hike, especially for a brand new backpacker. Happy adventuring!
Crazy how far you’ve come from seeing those cars the first time — your life is completely overhauled! Best of luck on your travels!!
Your videos are excellent. I know you are using the Sawyer squeeze for water filtration. I use the same system. I always back flush my filter after each trip I take. I recently went on a four day trip through the Roan Highlands and found my filter was clogged at the first water stop. I found that by using my tap water, which is very hard, it drys out between trips and stop up the tiny holes inside the filter and clogs it. I was ready to throw it away but found that by soaking it in vinegar and flushing it in both directions it cleaned it out and now works fine. I flushed it with distilled water after the vinegar and will definitely test it before my next trip.
Loving the CDT videos. I was surprised how difficult the early sections are and didn’t realize sections of trail don’t meet. Will there be a Hight Route like the Sierras and are you looking forward to it if so? Thanks for great videos and hard work!
Love your videos! My wife and I are huge fans of your trips. Thanks for sharing.
Love your videos. The scenery is amazing. I didn’t know it’s already an adventure to get to the trail.
Thanks! Haha, right?! The pre-adventure ????
Living and loving life!
Commenting for your generous pack giveaway, but to also say you really find out a person’s character when they don’t want to share their water filter in the midst of nothing but cow troughs! ???? Was just astonished, as I couldn’t even imagine acting that way towards a stranger, much less a friend in need. Wow. Just wow.
Thank you, Marijka! I appreciate your support ????
Love your videos. I found your channel shortly after you started your PCT trip and have been watching ever since. Have fun on the CDT!
Thanks for being such an inspiration to our family!
Good luck on finishing your triple crown. Cant wait to see what you do next.
Dixie, you are such an inspiration to me and I just wanted to thank you for giving me the determination to get out to the AT next spring! I would not be as confident as I am now without your videos, tips and tricks, and guide book. Thank you again and can’t wait to see what you’ll do next! Crushing it dude.
Good luck on your journey…love the videos.
Congrats to you and Perk on your completion of your CDT thru hike. I found your videos and started watching them last week. I am about half way thru your AT videos I like them allot. I have sectioned from Springer to Shenandoah In about five different hikes your videos of where I have hiked bring back allot of great memories. You give me inspiration to finish the whole trail. Opps I was looking at the pic of ya’ll at the completion of the PCT. Oh well If your not done yet I know you will be soon. BTW I am a vols fan sorry about wooping up on your Tigers. I am glad your not on the Auburn football team cause then we would have no chance. You are one tough chick. BTW There is still the Florida Trail.
Peace, Love, and happy trails
RETIRED AND READY
Dixie, this is Scott Fortune (ColdSteel) Thank you so very much for sharing your amazing stories and adventures. I just retired from the US Army where I worked for The Special Operations Command. Following retirement 1 June 2020 I knew that a new challenge in life was something I desire. Hiking the AT is my next challenge and thanks to you and your videos my trial team and I are preparing to go. Thank You so very Much (ColdSteel)