CDT day 96: the infinite sadness of roadwalking

August 8
Mileage: 27
1813 miles hiked

Even though I don’t fall asleep in my hotel room until midnight, I wake up at five. And I tossed and turned all night. Aren’t beds supposed to be comfortable? And there are all the unnatural hotel things- the sound of doors latching and unlatching down the hall, the whir of forced air, the weak light leaking in from the parking lot. Oh well, time to get up. At least I’ll get a lot done this way!

Somehow I’m not packed up and ready to go until nearly eight. I tarry over every little thing- looking at ley maps, eating leftover food, drinking tea, sorting my resupply, braiding my hair.

I meet Track Meat and Spark at the diner where they’ve had breakfast and walk with them across town, to the post office. They’re only hiking out a few miles today, in the evening. I’m not sure when I’ll see them again- maybe in the next town? I say goodbye and start the long roadwalk out of town, feeling bummed. Why does just the thought of hiking solo bring on these aching attacks of loneliness? I know why. It’s because I’m over it. I had adventures solo all through my twenties, and at some point decided that I was really, really done with that. But at the moment, I’m even more done with feeling like the slow walker in the group. Like I’m always playing catch up. It just gives me too much anxiety. I really do need to do my own thing right now. So here I go.

There’s an alternate leaving Rawlins- a paved roadwalk through the sagebrush, as opposed to a meandering jeep trail through sagebrush. The alternate cuts off fifteen miles, bringing the section down to a manageable 130 miles-ish. I decide to take the alternate, forgetting how demoralizing paved roadwalking can be. Especially for an entire day. The road is flat and wide, and the sun is bright. I make pretty good time, but not the best. I keep having to stop and take breaks because I’m so fucking bored and my feet hurt. I finish my audiobook and sink into a dark mood. Flat pavement going on forever, the wind beating the grass. Is this what it’s come to? This? Ranchers in pickups keep stopping to ask if I’m ok. YES I’M OK! I want to yell at them. But I know they mean well. People in cars on the CDT who stop to talk to you aren’t looking to give you trail magic. They don’t offer you sodas. Instead they lean out their car windows and play twenty questions, say “Boy that sure is neat!” and then drive off. Or they ask you directions. “Which way to DickButt lake?” you can see the bottles of water on their dash, their piles of snacks.

“I don’t know,” you say. “I’m not from around here.” And then they drive off, leaving you in a cloud of dust.

Poor me, I know. Cutting off fifteen miles with this nice roadwalk. Somebody call the WHAAAmbulance. Call whine-one-one, I need a WHAAAndaid.

The day perks up considerably when I get to camp. Three cheers for camp! My spacious tarp, no need for my bug net because the unseasonable cold spell we just had killed off the mosquitoes. Rehydrated veggies, salami sandwich. Probiotics that I bought it Lander. I try not to think about how my gut was bothering me again today. It’ll pass, it’ll pass. My friend/acupuncturist Allison is sending me some chinese herbs in Steamboat Springs, the same ones that helped me when I had amoebas years ago. Hopefully those plus probiotics will help my gut mend. If not, oh well. There’s only Colorado left!

The sun sets just after eight, which feels too early. Somehow it went from never getting dark enough to sleep to this rapid slide towards fall. Winter, as they say, is coming!

Photos on instagram