Hiking our first 12,000 ft. Pass….sick.

Day 7, 7/14
Miles: 12.6
Mileage: 104.4 – 117.0
(Note that WE have not walked 117.0 miles, as we skipped segment 6- a 32.7 mile segment. For sake of ease I am referring to CT mileage, and we will be back to finish segment 6 at the end of the trail.)

I obviously assume that I’m going to sleep like a queen in the hostel,
But I don’t. I wake up over and over again, one moment dripping in sweat so I throw the blankets off, then the next moment shivering so I pull my blankets back up. I get up to go to the bathroom several times during the night. I have diarrhea. Oh no… There is hardly anything worse to have on the trail. It must be from the change of food, I think to myself. I gulp down water, get back into bed and try to sleep until the next time I’m awakened to repeat the cycle.

In the morning I’m really not feeling well. I drink more water, take vitamin I (ib profane), and shower. The breakfast looks amazing but all I can stomach is a little bit of yogurt, fresh fruit, and a sausage link. After breakfast and my vitamin I kicks in I start to feel a little better. I can do this, I tell myself. We walk to the post office where we will send home some items we no longer need, then to the bus stop. Shortly thereafter the bus drops us off at the trail, and we are off!

Today consists of 8 miles of uphill first thing. Up and over our first 12,000 ft pass, followed by a 4 mile descent to Copper Mountain ski resort. This is a bad day for a tough climb. I am weak, tired, and I keep getting dizzy. I have to stop about every 20 steps to lean over my hiking poles and close my eyes and take a deep breath. My legs feel like they have bricks attached, and the climb is slow going. We stop only an hour in to drink electrolytes, as I realize I am probably drained of vitamins and minerals and nutrients today. It helps some. The dizziness does not go away, though, and I decide it must be because of elevation. We finally make it to the top around 2pm and throw our packs off in celebration. We meet a few other thru hikers on the way up, and cross paths back and forth with a group of bikers who are lugging their mountain bikes up this giant, steep, rocky terrain. How are they doing that? Here I am sucking in air and stopping every 30 seconds, and these people are hauling themselves AND their bikes up the side of the mountain.

The clouds are slowly rolling in at the top, and it’s freezing, so we don’t stay long. I follow a guy named Nate down, and when we hit tree line again we stop in a little patch of grass to wait for Simone and eat lunch. I love meeting new people on the trail, I tell myself again. Everyone is instantly your best friend. People on the trail and in these little trail towns are friendly, chill, and they’ll go out of their way to help you. They want to know about your life. They want to give up their time and energy, and sometimes more, to make sure you are happy and having a good time. I love the hiker life. It is engrained in my heart forever.

The 4 mile descent is easy and passes quickly. We roll into Copper Mountain at a decent time, sent up camp, wash our clothes in the beautiful river set in a picturesque view underneath the mountains we just traveled. We bathe ourselves even though I can only touch the water for 5 seconds before it sends me into hypothermic shock. Our dinner is especially special tonight… in my hungry-hiker opinion. Garlic cheese pasta with REAL cheese added in, a Taco Bell hot sauce packet, and salt and pepper. A real treat on the trail… We discuss how amazing the food is and then realize that it would probably be really gross if we were not on the trail. I am feeling better, but not 100%. My legs are achy tonight and my body still feels hot, possibly feverish. I hope and pray it will pass quickly and will not get any worse. Tomorrow we have a 12 mile climb back up to 12,300 feet!

We organize our things, clean the pan, brush our teeth and finally crawl into bed at 7:30. I turn to Simone with a smile and say “ahhhh I love getting into my sleeping bag after a long, exhausting day.” She nods and ignores me, because I say that every single night. It’s true, though. I love you, Therm-a-rest and sleeping bag.

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