Among the Ridges
I didn’t finish the Colorado Trail this year.
A few weeks ago I found myself unexpectedly in Durango and wound up at the southern terminus of the CT. A sign that I couldn’t make it to this past August, at least not in the way I had envisioned.
As I stood at the sign, many emotions rolled through me; disappointment, sadness, excitement and pride.
Disappointment that something I worked so hard for didn’t end up the way I had hoped. Sadness for what could have been as I was finally finding my stride on trail. Excitement for next summer’s journey and the opportunity to come back and finish. Proud for making a difficult decision and for working through the emotions after going home.
An emotional rollercoaster since August
I keep thinking back to a text from a friend of mine who had gotten ahead on trail (@trailsofdanindy) that said, “If I didn’t have 70 miles left, I wouldn’t be out here right now.” On the days that I’m struggling I try to remind myself how I felt in the moments of Dan’s updates. The photos of snow up to his knees and tales of putting frozen shoes on in the morning and the word sketchy describing several high mountain passes.
I think long distance backpackers are drawn to that bittersweet torment of life. The moments of grit where the average person would bow out, we forge ahead. Maybe that’s what makes this defeat sting a bit deeper. The fact that I had to make a decision based on safety and not based on mental fortitude.
I’ve talked with friends, coworkers and my therapist about why this feels like a failure and not a grand achievement. Maybe it’s rooted in not knowing how to truly be proud of myself, something I never learned as a young adult. Or maybe it’s because of social media and the stigma of not finishing a long trail. Whatever is causing this mental block the answer is somewhere among the ridges of the mountains I climbed and descended, waiting for me to find it.
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