Kinda hiking, kinda not

Day 10, 7/17
Mileage: 10.1
Miles: 146.1 – 156.2

I wake in the night to water dripping on my face. Shit, I think. Why is the tent leaking? Rain has been pounding down on the tent, dumping buckets per second, for the last… God knows how long. What time even is it? I’m too tired and confused and worried about the leaky rain fly to look at the time, so I just cover myself in my sleeping bag and drift back away to a peaceful land where I don’t have to hike and be sick at the same time.

We wake and pack things up very very slowly. It takes me so long just to put my sleeping bag and sleeping pad away, and get out of the tent. It takes me so long to do those three things, that by the time I’m out of the tent Simone is completely packed up and ready. I ask her if she will go filter water while I put the tent away. This also takes an abnormally long amount of time, followed by shoving things into my pack and hesitating for a minute before taking off my down jacket. We’re finally walking at some late time of the morning. I decide not to look at the time because I know it’s ridiculously late. Hiker noon, as they say.

My stomach is gurgling and sending shooting pains throughout my abdomen. I have to stop several times to use the bushes. I feel so weak. So. Incredibly. Weak. What is wrong with me? As we meander our way up and over rocks on this path we are following to Durango, I wonder what happened to that girl who can hike faster than almost anyone. Where did my legs go? Where did my lungs go? And where, on earth, did my will-power go? They seem to have all disappeared. I am walking up this trail, slowly easing my way up with each heavy step, stomach hurting and legs feeling worthless. I want to cry. I read all these books about ultra runners, endurance athletes, long distance hikers, triathletes. My favorite quotes consist of words that press one to continue forward, to never give up, to seek the very limit of possibility, and then to push oneself farther. I have dreamt about running ultras myself. Of pushing myself to that limit, digging deep to find a new source of strength, then pressing through the boundaries.

Why on earth then do I feel like this today? Where is that inner voice telling me to go a little faster, a little farther? Several times I get a small dose of courage, and I try to power myself up the hill faster. That only lasts for a few seconds though, until my legs scream for oxygen and my lungs can’t gulp in enough air. I stop and hurl myself over my trekking poles gasping for breath. I hope, and pray, and wish that my strength will come back soon. I’ve somehow forgotten who that person was… Was that actually me? Did I set out on this trek to conquer all fears only to find that I am weak and powerless?

At some point during our walk, an older couple who we’ve visited with several times catches up to us, and they give me Imodium. Trail magic! Hopefully that will do the trick.

We reach the end of the segment at 2:30. We have only walked 10 miles. I do the math and can’t believe how it’s possible for me to walk that slow. Me, the person who is usually impatient with slow walkers, the person who averages 3-4 miles per hour on any given hike. I walked barely faster than 1 1/2 miles per hour today. Simone was also feeling weak today, and we look over the map wondering how we’re going to conquer the next few days. Today we are supposed to cover 6 more miles, but it’s all uphill from here and at the rate we’re walking that would put us to camp at 6 or 7. Neither of us want to walk until 6 or 7. We were exhausted this morning, we’re exhausted now, and we can’t imagine how we will feel after 4 more hours of trekking uphill. Tomorrow, we are supposed to summit Mt. Massive, Colorado’s second highest peak, in the morning. The day following, we are supposed to summit Mt. Elbert, Colorado’s highest mountain, before arriving at Twin Lakes. If we don’t get our mileage in tonight, all of those plans won’t follow accordingly. But 6 more miles tonight isn’t happening.

We mosey around the river by the trailhead, I plug in my solar charger, we sit on a log in the middle of the creek and soak our feet. We waste time until 3:30, and finally surrender to fact that we aren’t walking any farther today. Simone reminds me of a section of book she read to me on the drive over here. We discuss how we didn’t set off on this hike to prove to someone else that we can walk 500 miles, or to show off, or to look impressive. We set off on this hike to have a grand adventure, to become immersed in nature, to allow our thoughts, feelings, soul and spirit to grow and change as nature has it’s way. Plans change, and they always will. We set out on this journey knowing that it wouldn’t go according to plan, that life would push it’s way in and change our course. It’s going to be okay, we decide. Simone’s feet problems came and are now passing, and my illness will pass also. No matter what changes do occur in our plans, I know that we will still find exactly what we set out to discover. The trail provides. Nature provides.

We happily spend the rest of the afternoon playing in the water, washing clothes, reading, relaxing, resting. I take a nap in the sun, waking again at 5, and I comment on how good it feels to rest my body. We need the rest, and I believe that following our bodies needs is the best way to stay safe and happy on the trail. After all, nature isn’t in a hurry, why should we be?

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