Brian Cornell

Author and outdoorsman Brian Cornell will appear at Darbytown Art Studio Friday to sign copies of his first book, ‘Divided: A Walk on the Continental Divide Trail.’

The new year offers new possibilities. Darbytown Art Studio on First Friday will offer people the chance to learn about the adventures of a long-distance hiker and perhaps be inspired to take some chances of their own.

Author and outdoorsman Brian Cornell will be signing copies of his first book, “Divided: A Walk on the Continental Divide Trail,” from 6-9 p.m.

In his book, Cornell recounts his experience hiking with his brother on the Continental Divide Trail, which spans approximately 3,100 miles and through five states.

Hiking long distances is nothing new to Cornell, and his love of hiking and nature flourished at a young age. He grew up in Front Royal, hiking nearly every weekend at Shenandoah National Park.

Cornell, a graduate of Virginia Wesleyan University, already hiked the Appalachian Trail with his brother years ago, which spans approximately 2,200 miles. When his brother approached him about hiking the Continental Divide Trail, or CDT, Cornell saw it as an opportunity to take on a new challenge during a time in his life where he was considering his next step.

The inspiration for the book came when Cornell was hiking the CDT in 2018.

“I’ve always wanted to write a book,” he said. “What better story to write than a long-distance hike in my mid-20s?”

He said writing “Divided” felt similar in some ways to hiking. Each day on the trail, he said, he hiked a certain distance. He kept track of his progress and worked toward the goal of completing the trail. Similarly, he wrote a few pages of his book each day, arranged and compiled the information to tell the story he wanted to tell, and worked toward completing the book.

Like hiking, writing was nothing new to Cornell. He wrote a blog detailing many of his hiking trips and adventures. Through his blog, Cornell offered readers the chance to accompany him on his journey.

While video-sharing sites like YouTube to showcase hiking are growing in popularity, Cornell liked the personal challenge of writing something each day.

“Writing made more sense to me,” he said.

The CDT, in addition to being the subject of his book, is also his favorite trail.

“It is a lot less developed and populated than the Appalachian Trail and the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail),” Cornell said. He described small towns he had never seen before. The fewer people around gave Cornell more time to reflect, he said, and realize the things that mattered to him and what he wanted most from life.

Cornell is only staying a short time in Fredericksburg. His next adventure, beginning Feb. 1, will include hiking the Great Western Loop with a group of other hikers. The Great Western Loop spans nearly 7,000 miles and encompasses five long-distance hiking trails, including CDT and PCT.

Copies of Cornell’s book will be available at the book signing, as well as on Readers can follow Cornell’s journey and read his past blogs online at

Emily Hollingsworth is a freelance writer.

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