Leaving Cuba on Monday, we gained 3,244 feet in elevation, camping at 10,143 feet. A dramatic change from the canyons of New Mexico, we found ourselves surrounded by running streams, green grass, evergreens, and aspen groves. The water was so abundant, it ran through the meadows and over the trails.
I really enjoyed the hiking and was feeling strong and upbeat. But throughout the day, the weight of carrying six days of food started to take a toll on our feet and shins. Our shoes got wet from the flooded trails turned into streams, plus we had some rather adventurous stream crossings. I would need to pass John my pack over the stream and strategize the safest way across. At one point the trail was covered in blown down trees and we had to scramble over a mess of trunks and limbs.
But this was nothing compared to the next day...
Notes from Tuesday, May 18. A PARTICULARLY CHALLENGING DAY.
What can you say about a day that begins with frozen shoes and socks? It began snowing at 6:30am, continuing until noon when it turned to rain. We hiked through flooded meadows that soaked our shoes. It hailed before the day was done. We walked through peanut butter mud that added pounds to our feet and inches to our height, causing us to slip and slide up steep inclines. Hiked 19 miles in 13 hours. We hadn’t planned on such a long day but failed to get water when available, forcing us to hike longer than John’s shin splints could handle, causing re-injury. And saddest part of the day, I got angry late in the day. Cussed a lot. We argued for the first time on trail and that was heartbreaking.
In hindsight, how did this day make me feel? I actually enjoyed the snow part, it was pretty and I’d rather hike in cold weather than hot. In cooler temperatures you don’t need to carry or drink as much water. I can live with wet feet as long as my core stays warm. The challenge came when I forgot to view this day as an adventure and a privilege. A choice to be hiking the CDT rather than living a comfortable and predictable indoor life.
We’re having fun 95 percent of the time on the CDT. We’ve never considered quitting. But as every adventurer knows, fun times don’t make the best stories. So I’m grateful for May 18. A day that gave us many stories to tell and re-tell, growing ever more challenging and exceptional in our memories.