We have a day off in Lincoln as Grizzly is fighting a sinus infection and needs some rest. There’s not much to do…so I use my time effectively to tsunami instagram and Facebook with photos, and dye my hair bright BRIGHT pink. Because why not?
I eat food from my food bag, laze about, half watch bad movies on the tv. Excitement abounds. I have dinner with Grizzly, Crunchmaster, Coop and Alex, then pack up for an early start. There’s a big climb out, 28 miles without water and a hot day so I want out early!
I barely sleep and it’s morning already. The guys are going to hitch up later, and I jump on the opportunity for a 7am ride up to the pass with Alex & Coop from the owner of the hotel they are staying in. As we climb up the steep 2 miles to the top of the ridge I’m glad I got here early! It’s hoooot!
I’m up on the ridge, exposed, with the sun biting. It’s actually not thaaaat hot, but with no shade and unable to gulp as much water as I want it feels rough. It doesn’t take the guys long to catch up and we find a tiny sliver of shade to hide in. I flick of another tick from my leg. Have I mentioned the ticks? I found one burrowing into my thigh when showering in Lincoln, another crawling up my leg this morning, I’ve flicked off about 3 others in the past couple of days, and now here are some more. I steal some DEET from Grizzly – this sh*t scares me. So many warning labels. I’m pretty sure I’m spraying cancer directly into my blood stream, but right now I’m choosing spray on cancer over Rocky Mountain spotted fever. Cancer vs fever. Over blowdown vs under blowdown. Frozen wet feet vs bushwhack and slippery log to cross river. All the awesome choices out here.
After 14 miles we make it to Flesher pass. We decide the name is creepy and must be the site of some crazy serial killer atrocities. ‘The Flesher!’. Maybe he used too much DEET and burned the flesh off people.
Alex and Coop are sitting in the shade across the road next to the pass. We sit for 5 minutes, which we all know is really going to be 30. We are all blergh. Really blergh. There is magical portal that can take us anywhere we want with the lift of a thumb – a road. Where should we go? I want to go to Harry Potter World. Everyone’s happy in Harry Potter World- how can you not be?? I’m pretty confident I can stitch together hitches to get me there. No one else is keen. Boo.
I sit and contemplate the infinite possibilities of now. Is this my place in the world right now? Of all the places I could be, is this the one? There is a lot more ‘blergh’ than awesome here. A lot more miles of ‘meh’ in between the awesome. Once you’ve committed to a thru-hike, it seems hard to change that decision. There is so much value in pushing yourself through tough things, getting out of your comfort zone, coming out stronger at the end. But sometimes… sometimes life is too short.
Right now I’m not happy. It turns out, we’re all not happy. Something needs to be shaken up, changed. I’m not ready to stop hiking, but I want to be surrounded by beautiful things, inspiring views, amazing people.
And right now we have a portal. A magical portal.
I’m sick of faffing about, of talking in circles. I stick my thumb out and despite the thin traffic manage to get us a hitch. It’s myself and Grizzly, and after a few minutes of hesitation, Crunchmaster.
All of a sudden we are not on the trail, we are in a world of possibility…
We head to Helena, find a bed, eat food. Sulk. Mull. Marinate. Think.
Think brain, think. Of all the things that can be done in the world at this very moment, what is my thing???
A plan is hatched. A rental car. The Colorado Trail. Then the rest of the CDT. I need beauty and motivation and I think this will do it. A few weeks surrounded by mountains and peaks and trail that is real trail should give me the momentum to keep up with this trail. Or it won’t, but it is the reset I need to give the CDT my best shot.
And if not….
There is always Harry Potter World.