T-minus one week until the Hayduke Trail

So much has happened and I feel like I haven’t updated this blog in forever. I wrote seventy thousand words towards the first draft of my second book- not as many words as I’d hoped for but at the same time instead of drivel they were actually pretty good, so even though my first draft isn’t finished, I feel happy, I’ll take it. And when it’s time to write again (in fall? Or whenever? What even is my life?) I’ll finish the draft. Most days this winter in my sunny bare apartment in Sedona I drank a lot of tea and churned out a couple of pages towards the draft and it was a lot more fun than I thought it would be, I think I’ve grown a lot as a writer, I think the constant stress-drills or whatever of making myself write every day these last few years while thru-hiking has made me better at churning it out. And then being able to write in an environment free from stress- with heat and walls to block the wind and comfortable places to sit and quiet and peace and whole foods and the neighbor’s flute music and I can take a hot bath whenever I want- it’s actually been fucking incredible. I wrote seventy thousand words and then I felt really fucking tired, inside my brain. Also I felt tired because I’ve had pretty consistent GI symptoms all winter, and they were getting worse even though I kept trying to will them away. New symptoms I’ve never had before even- a constant pain in one part of my gut, like a small hot beeping light, and then other gut pains that come and go. And the usual- diarrhea, constipation. Inflammation and fatigue. The fatigue is the worst part, as I use exercise to manage my anxiety. But my runs got harder and harder, until my body hurt all over and my stomach was burning, and my ten-mile runs turned to six mile runs, and then to hikes with the occasional run thrown in. I got a bike so I could do something lower-impact, and that helped. I finally got a stool test, which was a pain in the ass without insurance- I thought I might still have giardia but was a little surprised and relieved when I tested positive for blastocystis hominis instead. Ah, my old friend Blasto. I’ve had blasto at least twice before. Actually, I have a theory- I think I never got rid of blasto after contracting it the first time, from drinking streamwater in Oregon in 2008. I think my gut had the blasto pretty much under control- I still had it but just, like, two of them, and they lived in a ghetto on the edge of my colon, and my friendly gut bacteria kept them imprisoned there, and wouldn’t let them reproduce, and didn’t give them very much food to eat. And then I took flagyll against the giardia I caught on the CDT- flagyll does little against blasto, but it is good at wiping out all of one’s friendly bacteria. And so the guards were gone and the blasto took over the smoldering villages and had a party and lived happily ever after.

There aren’t any antibiotics that work well against blasto. I’m treating it the hippie way- with diet and chinese herbs. This is the slow way, but I’ve done it before, and I know that it works. I started treating it as soon as I found out it was blasto, and in just a few days most of my symptoms were gone. I don’t feel completely better yet- yesterday I had my first good run in over a month, but today my gut was super upset. I’ve read that blasto can do a good deal of damage to your gut, and that takes a while to heal. Diet is key, for me, when it comes to blasto symptoms- basically eating paleo, which is a giant fucking pain in the ass, and super expensive, and anti-social as hell, and generally bad for morale. And as soon as I start the Hayduke, in one week (!!!) I won’t be able to eat this way anymore. I am so, so, so excited to eat fucking grains again. But worried that I’ll feel sick as soon as I do. Ah, I can’t think about it right now.

My boyfriend moved in a month ago. Did I tell you I have a boyfriend? Yeah I had this huge emotional growth spurt this winter and now I have a boyfriend and we’re even living together. I realized that I’d been chasing after people (friends and lovers both) who treat others like shit (not necessarily intentionally, I mean we’ve all been that person at some point in our lives) and that I was chasing after this kind of non-love because deep down I felt that was all I deserved. So I stopped. Or rather I felt really confused and beat myself up for months and went over everything in my mind as though If I Was Just Good Enough Then Everyone Would Love Me, Even People Who Don’t Love Anyone, Especially People Who Don’t Love Anyone, and then I felt so fucking tired from that it was like my brain was going to explode, and I got really annoyed, at first at myself and then at others, and then I did a lot of letting go, and that’s when I suddenly noticed all of the people in my life who DO love me, for like the first time in my fucking life, and then I saw Dan standing there, who had just come into my world last summer, and I realized that he was one of them.

I met Dan when I was on the CDT- he was hiking the Colorado Trail. Now he lives in my apartment. We’re hiking the Hayduke trail together. And whatever comes after that, granted we still like each other. So far, this is the most grownup relationship I’ve ever had. It’s nice. It feels really, really, really fucking nice. It turns out there’s no ego in love. There’s no glamour in love. Love is not winning or losing. I’ve had the kind of love that’s an explosion, and then leaves me empty. But I’m learning that love is something that can happen quietly, in a way that feels safe. That’s the kind of love I want.

Also, he’s hot.

Dan in Lake City when we met

Dan in Lake City when we met

In a few days we leave Sedona to bury our caches and then start the Hayduke. We’re both resupplying at all the logical places AND placing food caches- if all goes according to plan, our longest carry will be just 90 miles. Because I’m a weenie, and I refuse to carry a heavy pack. All the logistical pain of making caches is worth it to me. Plus, we get to put cool stuff in there, like canned goods! It’s like we’re making trail magic for ourselves!!

Also! Dan and I had originally planned on bringing a two-person tarp, but we took said tarp on a shakedown hike and discovered that it wasn’t actually big enough for two people to use without brushing the sides with every movement and covering one’s bag in condensation. So we’ve switched to a Zpacks Duplex tent- the tent came in the mail yesterday and it’s fucking incredible! This is by far the most bomb-proof shelter I’ve ever taken on a thru-hike. Mesh, zippers, two vestibules, we can both sit up, it’s amazing! 20 oz for a shelter seems heavy, but we’re splitting the weight. No, my boyfriend is not carrying our shelter for us- my ego could never handle that, ha ha. I can take care of myself, goddamit. I’m carrying 10 oz of his stuff to make it even. For the record!

dream tent

dream tent

There has been so much great stuff on the internet since last we spoke, blog readers!

My friend Jenny Bruso wrote a GREAT post about feeling like an “unlikely hiker”. I imagine that so many of my readers can relate. My favorite quote- “Life is not a fucking LL Bean catalog!”

I got to hike around Joe Brewer for much of New Mexico on the CDT. Turns out he has an amazing youtube channel! I think I’m the only one on the internet who didn’t know this? Here’s my favorite one of his videos- a day in the life of a thru-hiker. Filmed on the CDT.

John Z also makes great videos! I crossed paths with John Z in Wyoming on the CDT- he was hiking northbound, and we were southbound. I’d heard of him because his trail name was actually Carrot, and so I’d challenged him to a dance off to determine the One True Carrot, but before we got a chance for that he grew tired of how awkward it was that there were two of us and started going by just John Z. John Z hiked the CDT incredibly fast. When you watch this video (in which Spark, Track Meat and I have a cameo!) you’ll hear him say what average daily mileage he needs to make in order to make it to his next resupply on time. Just casually. His videos are great! Watch them.

Well that’s all for tonight dear readers. I imagine my next post will be from the Hayduke trail, or maybe en route to the Hayduke trail. Wish me luck!