On the first day of June, I completed nearly ten miles of the trail with fifty pounds of life on my back. The first part of the trail was mainly occupied by cyclists who showed no mercy in their passing; their speed gave them ownership of the trail. I remember thinking, "How will I get up if one of them blows me down?" I would have died there. I checked my Fitbit hoping to see that I had accumulated what felt like two hundred miles.
THREE FUCKING MILES.
I peered into the sun and convinced myself that I had purchased a defective Fitbit.
A man on a bike slowed as he passed me yelling, "Where ya headed?!"
It was all I could do to feebly respond, "San Francisco!"
He and his buddies raised their fists in the air and cheered. In that moment, I forgot the agony and defeat I was tearing myself apart with. I forgot about the fifty pounds of life on my back. I forgot the uncertainty of feeling in my toes. All I could imagine was my goal; reasons of why I started began to run through my mind. Those guys were just what I needed at mile three. I would call them passing pillars of strength.
Can't quit today, Bitch.
My first night camping was an experience that I will never forget. I had to remind myself how to live...
Where do I put my socks? Somebody or something is going to steal them.
I wonder what my face looks like?
I'm not sure if I'm pitching my tent the correct way. What if I blow away?
These Walmart camp sandals won't stay on my feet. Five dollars well spent.
My goodness, I smell horrible.
The last thing I wanted was food. My body was battling a combination of allergies and anxiety. My mind was mush. I decided that I needed to eat, no matter how I was feeling, my body and mind needed the calories. I opened my bear vault (I finally figured out the locks) and smelled something that could be compared to death. I took a good look at my food, something was wrong. I saw the green mold and my heart dropped to the pit of my stomach. My meals, except for my snacks, were somehow ruined.
I fucking LOST IT.
Maybe it's just the food that has been in the bear vault?
Surely, ALL of the food that I prepared for the summer is not spoiled.
I later found out that all of the meals for the hike went bad. I could not and still cannot figure out where I went wrong in the preparation. I followed the examples of previous hikers and everything was sealed properly. My immediate thought was the powdered milk...that still doesn't make sense because POWDERED MILK IS SUPPOSED TO STAY FRESH. Still a mystery. I spent nearly three hundred dollars on hiking food in bulk for the entire summer. You can imagine my dismay; three hundred dollars means something to my bank account. That amount of money is not "change" for this girl!
I panicked. I cried. I panicked. I cried.
It was all I could do to crawl into my tent and pretend to be at peace. The coyotes continuously howled. My mind was a mess. My body was in shock and my heart was broken. I forgot how to sleep. How do I sleep? I began to dream of a Greyhound bus to Dallas.
You cannot quit on your first day! That's a rule!
I woke up the next day feeling as if a truck ran over my tent with me in it. I knew I had to call my state coordinator and explain my food crisis and emotional death. I hiked to the next town of Morrison where she rescued me. RESCUED ME. She has been my "guardian angel" since our first conversation. She and her family took me in and helped me regroup. We laid out every item that I was carrying in my pack until we were able to bring down the original weight of fifty pounds to thirty-eight pounds. I had to part with my favorite flannel shirt but my back and shoulders benefited from the sacrifice. They bought freeze dried meals (ones that I originally ignored in planning because of the price) to get me started and sent me out on the trail. Incredible, right? This is not the last time you will hear of this angelic family.
Twenty miles later, I finally arrived in Idaho Springs where there was a tornado warning. Perfect! I would like to publicly thank my Dad for coming to the rescue and setting me up in a motel for the night, thanks Dad! All I wanted to do was recluse in my small town, smelly motel. I couldn't do that; I had to branch out and speak to people. My next town was the beginning of my elevation gain and the Rockies were staring me in the face. I knew Colorado had experienced late snowfall this year and ridiculous weather to go with it. I wanted someone to tell me that everything was melted and that my plans would go forth with ease.
I walked to the visitor's center, grocery store, library and local pizza place searching for answers and a green light. I remember all of their faces; each expressed a unique puzzlement.
"You're on foot? You picked the WRONG year for the Rockies!"
Well, no shit. Thanks!
I started back to my motel, in the rain. I watched my boots invade the puddles like they were going somewhere; I didn't feel like I was headed ANYWHERE. Silly boots. I looked up to see a rainbow and felt my stomach turn. I mumbled under my breath, "What the fuck are you promising me?" Silly Jesus.
I brainstormed with my coordinator trying to create a plan to get me through the trail in the mountains. I did not expect snow to be an issue this late in the year; I was not prepared or equipped to hike through snow. Once again, my plans began to change and take a completely unexpected turn. I would "skip" ahead past the snow. My guardian angels, without hesitation, came to my rescue!
I am now on top of the Grand Mesa in Colorado with my state coordinator; she and her husband have basically adopted me into their family. I have never felt more welcomed by the most beautiful strangers. I "day hike" in and around the Mesa to gain as many Colorado miles as possible. The high elevation and rollercoaster miles are proving to be helpful training for California; my body will undoubtedly be the strongest it has ever been when I start my trek to San Francisco.
Spending time with Lynne has been life changing. It came out of nowhere and was not a part of my original plan but that doesn't matter anymore. She's fucking cool. I am learning so much from this mountain momma. She's a Springsteen fan and has kept my heart company with interesting conversation. I didn't realize how much I was going to need PEOPLE on this trip. I could not think of a better place to be stalled, confused and hungry for answers.
I am anxiously counting down the days until I see Lane in Grand Junction. July 1st is haunting me, I cannot wait. I miss my baby, my lovetree. He is the reason why I am still here. When I return to Texas, I want to look Lane in the eyes and tell him that he can point his feet west and see San Francisco on foot. He can do it because Mommy did. He can do it no matter the hardships or shitty surprises.
I miss my couch. I miss rock and roll in my underwear. I miss my oversized sweater. I miss Weido. I miss my Johnny boy. I miss MY PEOPLE.
I met a couple from Houston on the side of the road last week. I was loaded down, sweaty and singing Petty. They pulled their motorcycle to an overlook for a smoke break when they asked me where I was headed. He wore faded blue jeans that were his for years. She had long, cold, black hair with leather fringe painted to her thighs. We exchanged our summer plans and laughed about the weather in Texas. I'll never forget them passing me on the road and snapping pictures of my pitiful escalation. They waved goodbye and headed into their summer on wheels.
The past twenty days have been some of the hardest I have ever lived. I have never felt more emotion or been more headsick. A lonely heart is quick to believe defeat. A messy mind is quick to dream of a Greyhound to Dallas. My bones have never been this tired. Tough was once four digits of miles accomplished on foot. Tough is now choosing to put one boot in front of the other when your heart, mind, body and soul are persuading you to duck your head and catch a bus home.
"You don't duck your head to nobody, ya hear? Nobody."
I want to thank the Cobb and Arthur families for your unheard of support and generosity. Your selflessness has made over my defeat with hope. THANK YOU for helping a Texas girl find her way. I am eternally grateful.
You can donate to my hike to San Francisco by clicking the donate button on my home page. Your donations, prayers and beautiful words mean the world to me! Thank you all.
Love and Peace