CDT day 104: ridges and thunderstorms aka the Colorado Experience

August 16
Mileage 24
1939.5 miles hiked

I wake up at 6 a.m., even though I fell asleep at 7 p.m. last night. Dang, I must’ve needed that. Track Meat and Spark are in the same boat, just now beginning to stir in their tents. It sprinkled cozily all night, and I was so cozy and warm in my tarp. Have I mentioned how much I love my tarp?

I realize something as I’m sitting in my sleeping bag, heating water for tea on my magical alcohol stove- this is the third morning in a row when I haven’t felt like shit when I woke up. No crushing, flu-like fatigue with its attendant black mood, no stomach upset. I feel like myself- happy to be alive, happy to be in the woods. You know what? I think the herbs are helping. They helped when I had amoebas several years ago, when antibiotics failed me then, and I think they’re helping me now. I take them three times a day and I can almost feel them in there, slowly but surely changing the environment of my gut. My sugar cravings have gone down, and my vinegar/salt cravings have gone through the roof. And my energy level is improving, if how fantastic I felt during our 3 a.m. 5100 foot climb of Long’s peak yesterday is any indicator. Healing ones gut, tho, is a slow process, and I’m sure I’ll still have bad days. I likely won’t be able get back to 100% until after the trail, when I can focus more fully on my diet. But today I feel good and I’m fucking stoked to be here, and that’s fucking awesome. I never taking one of these days for granted again!

We’re lazy packing up and then within a mile of walking on the road we run into an older couple in a homemade camper, and they hail us over for coffee. They’ve hiked the AT, PCT, and parts of the CDT. They live in Florida and in a month they’ll sail to Cuba in a sailboat. We sit in camp chairs listening to their stories for a while and when we finally get to walking again it’s 9 a.m.

“I want to be like those guys when I grow up,” I say as we walk away. Seeing happy older couples living lives of magic and adventure always gives me hope- maybe it’s possible for the rest of us? Maybe?

The three of us are all feeling a bit sluggish this morning. I’m secretly glad that I’m not the only one that’s sluggish today, that Spark is sore from practically running to the summit of Longs Peak and back and that Track Meat is just generally sleepy. Maybe tomorrow my friends will be rested and ambitious and they will leave me in the dust, but not today.

Here is the Colorado Experience: the morning is clear and cool, the afternoon curdles and becomes oppressively humid, then thunderclouds, lightning, some rain. We climb ever so slowly up to eleven thousand feet, and that’s where we are when the storm comes in. We’re high and exposed but there isn’t much in the way of lightning, so I feel safe. For today. Spark explains to Track Meat and me how to do CPR.

“Is that what you do when someone’s been struck by lightning?” I say. “Because their heart stops?”

“Sometimes,” he says.

The rain continues all evening until we’re cold and grumpy. Camp is on a ridge, each of us tucked into the trees as best we can. I make hot noodle dinner, which is fucking incredible, and sit cozy and warm in my tarp, eating it. The rain lets up just before sunset and the lights twinkle on in some small town way below. It’s good to be alive.

Photos on instagram