Continental Divide Trail #1: Porter Retires to Hike the CDT!

Porter trains for CDTIt’s really true–Porter has retired from his position as Executive VP of the American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine, with much fanfare at their Annual Assembly for his thirty years of leadership in hospice and palliative medicine! He also retired from his clinical practice as a palliative care doc for Kaiser Permanente, and will miss his colleagues deeply.

He’s training assiduously for his 3,100-mile hike of the Continental Divide Trail from the border of Mexico to the border of Canada, over the mountains of New Mexico, Colorado, Wyoming, Idaho, and Montana by hiking Boulder’s peaks several hours a day. Porter being Porter, he’s making and customizing new ultralight gear, including his backpack (of camouflage fabric barely visible in this photo).

Have tiara, willl travel

Have tiara, will travel! I’ll be Porter’s “trail angel” support, moving from town to town somewhat close to his CDT route. About once a week I’ll drive to a trailhead, hike in to meet him, bring him into town for a day or so to resupply his food, clean up and do laundry, eat, drink, and be very merry!

While Porter hikes, I’ll be doing a solo meditation retreat– sitting and walking meditation based on my 40-year practice with teachers from various contemplative traditions.

Porter and I will keep track of each other’s whereabouts via our satellite trackers, which work in the mountains where cell phones are iffy.

Amber w:Porter's stethoscope & balloonsThe incorrigible Amber, with whom some of you are acquainted from her blog at, has misappropriated both Porter’s stethoscope and his Retirement balloons. She can be counted on to insert snarky comments in this CDT blog post series about Porter’s hike and my solo meditation retreat.

This blog will be our main way of staying in touch with y’all. We look forward to hearing from you, and I’ll respond to your questions and comments in the Comments section under each post.  Please do feel free to subscribe to the blog at (left column under “Sign up for Updates on our New Adventures”) if you haven’t already, and to share with anyone who might be interested.

Happy trails to all!  Gail and Porter





Happy Holidays from Gail and Porter Storey

Happy New Year, and let us know in the Comments how your 2010 was!

How Does Nature Affect Our Minds?

An article by Matt Richtel in The New York Times, “Outdoors and Out of Reach, Studying the Brain,” shares the experience of five neuroscientists who spent five days without computers and cell phones, rafting a river in Utah. At first, the scientists were divided on whether heavy use of digital technology took a toll on attention and focus. Flowing down the river, they felt the freedom and clarity of not being electronically interrupted. By the end, they brimmed with fresh ideas for their research. Was it from the quiet, the exercise, or nature itself?

In my own experience hiking the 2,663-mile Pacific Crest Trail with my husband, Porter, I felt a synthesis of all three–mind and body in nature. Nearly six months without cell phones or computers allowed for a deep interior rest, even as we struggled to hike twenty-plus miles a day over mountains, across deserts, and through rivers. Our attentiveness grew at once sharper–to navigate, find water, watch for mountain lions and bears–and more intuitive, sensing our way into the wilderness.

How did nature affect our minds? Immediately after our return, we were able to make a series of complex decisions with refreshed analytic powers as well as trust in the spontaneous flow of life. Our lives changed in ways we were suddenly ready for. We moved to Boulder, Colorado, where outdoor adventure is a vital part of our days. Having left his old job to hike the Pacific Crest Trail, Porter found deeply satisfying work in hospice and palliative medicine. I spend part of the day hiking in the Foothills of the Rockies, and part at the computer to bring the wordless knowing of nature first to consciousness and then into language, through my book and blog.

Our digital technologies, from devices to social media, reflect our longing to connect. They’re not an end but a means to relatedness with each other and the world. For a direct connection unmediated by technology, listen to the wind, feel the bark of a tree, look into the sky or into the eyes of another. Fall silent. That’s nature.