CDT day 125: birthday yurt!

September 6
Mileage: 9
2,412 miles hiked

I wake up and it’s my birthday. I’m 33. How do I feel? I feel… happy and light. When did this happen, exactly? How did this happen? I don’t know. I’ll take it!

I go to breakfast with Stealthy and Mule at a little cafe. Stealthy was on the T.A. last winter with my friend Chance! That’s pretty cool. After breakfast Stealthy and Mule get a shuttle back to the trail and then it’s just me, melting into the couches at the hostel and trying to motivate to sort my resupply.

Track Meat and Spark roll in at ten a.m., looking like cold, hungry drowned rats. My friends! And is that what I looked like yesterday? No wonder the restaurant hostess was so confused. I make them eggy in a bready/dead baby in a shallow grave/toad in a hole and then we walk around town, caffeinating and talking about how awesome the trail in Colorado has been. There’s a yurt with a woodstove on the trail nine miles south, and my plan is to hike there in the afternoon. I could wait until tomorrow and hike with my friends again, but I’ve been really enjoying the solo thing and the sense of confidence it’s been giving me on the trail. I’ve never actually hiked completely solo before and now here I am, doing it. And I’m not even scared when I camp alone at night. I’m drunk on my own power and I don’t want to stop! Also it’s my birthday and I’m feeling introspective- I want to be in the nature thinking about my life. Not so much hanging out here in town with the ATVs.

At 3 p.m. I’m finally ready to hitch and by 4:15 I’m back at the pass. The trail climbs back up to twelve thousand feet, onto the wide open spine of the San Juans, and the light does crazy things with the clouds. Three hours later I find the yurt, a wisp of smoke coming out the chimney. Mule the sobo CTer is there, drunk- he’s been hanging out since the afternoon, drinking whiskey. Presently he collapses on one of the bunks and falls asleep. The world of the San Juans is frosty and growing dark but it’s cozy and warm in the yurt. There are carpets and bunks and a roaring woodstove. Outside the sinking sun is setting the clouds on fire, and while my noodle dinner is cooking I sit in front of the woodstove, writing my intentions for the next year on scraps of paper, as well as the things I want to let go of. I toss the scraps into the fire, swinging shut the heavy iron doors of the stove. My intentions go out into the world via the stovepipe, rising up and mixing with the stars.

Photos on instagram