Happy Place

Made it to Twin Lakes. This has been one of the most beautiful sections of trail I’ve ever hiked. I’m completely enchanted by this area I find myself walking through. Here’s the process.

Day 67 (Continued)

So I met back up with Link. We caught up while waiting for the hostel to open up. We met another hiker, Bear. Showered and changed into some town clothes the hostel had. Cotton T-shirts are maybe the most comfortable thing a person can wear, especially when the person has worn nothing but a polyester hiking shirt for the past two months.

We went out for dinner. I finally got a burger that I’ve been craving for the past two weeks. Best burger I’ve ever eaten in my life. Combined with some sweet potato fries cooked to perfection, I experienced an ecstasy that comes from the culmination of two weeks of envisioning. I imagined what five months of envisioning would produce. Checked out another bar, but nothing much was going on. Wound up back at the hostel and found sleep easily.

Day 68

Woke up and cooked those eggs. Combined with some veggies and bacon, it was quite epic. I did laundry as I caught up on writing for a good portion of the day. There was also a guitar at the hostel so I strummed some songs my fingers had been missing. There were a good few people from Southwest Conservation Corps that were on their off shift. So a good amount of people began to come through. Another hiker, Dutch, comes in as well.

Finished laundry and writing and then went out to see some outdoor music that was playing. It was the beginning of an Art Walk, which is a big festival for Salida. It was amazing. I reached a small amphitheater and was stunned. I wanted to go into the crowd and find someplace to sit but I was frozen. Terrified of taking up space within this group of people. Like I didn’t belong anywhere there and wasn’t supposed to. I managed to push through that into the crowd and found a lovely spot where I could sit, lie, and watch the band and the crowd.

I was mesmerized by the people. The clothes they wore, the tangible sense of community. These people knew each other and felt safe with each other. I noticed my removed lens I viewed them all through. I wonder if that’s why I love thru-hiking. It gives me license to remove myself from all these communities I pass through. I wondered if there was a path back for me as the sound waves traveled through the earth and reverberated throughout my chest.

Got back and people rallied for going out. I went even though I was pooped in a lot different ways. Saw some nice live music but left early as I was pretty peopled out. Got back and went to bed.

Day 69

Woke up and made some breakfast. Another hiker, Sparkler, came in. I spent the majority of the day trying to find a ride out of town. Bear and Dutch were zeroing and doing the West Collegiate route while Link decided to zero and then road walk up to Leadville. I wanted to do the East Collegiate route, as it was less snowy than the west route but actual trail and not road. But the trail angels who usually give rides to hikers were all out of town.

It was stressful and time-consuming to the point where I ended up zeroing again. I did manage to get a ride in the morning for everybody, and they were gracious. Went and got stuff for dinner, we decided on spaghetti. Bear cooked. It was amazingly good. Sparkler came down and we hung for a bit before rallying to the bars again. Played some cornhole and pool. About to leave when a local offers to buy us a pitcher. Drank a bit before heading back and falling asleep.

Bear, Dutch, Link, and me enjoying a gentleman’s spaghetti dinner

Day 70

Wake up and pack. Get some coffee and eggs and talk to Sparkler a bit as Bear and Dutch get ready. The guy picks us up and drops me off at the East Route while the others continue on. Felt a bit sluggish and slow but truly gorgeous hiking.

This is my happy place. This is where I go to when I’m trying to ground my self. And there is an actual physical location that corresponds to a level I didn’t know was possible. Fortifying sunlight shining through beautiful aspen and pine forest with stunning views of the valley surrounded by these impossibly impressive Rocky Mountain whitecaps. It was postcard ideal, felt like a dream.

It was also a popular trail. I passed a lot of day and section hikers. It’s fun to impress people with what I’m doing. Filled up water at a trailhead and camped at a flat spot on an uphill. Dinner and then bed.

Day 71

Woke up and started moving late. Made it to Mount Princeton Hot Springs Resort. It was a bit expensive to soak and I didn’t want to stay all day, so I got some snacks at the store they had. People would approach me but I really started to feel isolated and alone. Hiked out of town and pushed miles.

The isolation was really kicking my fear responses up. I was in some habits that feel like drains on my power, or moments out integrity, or negative karmic energy. Whatever words work there. Needed to shift my karmic energy. So I reached a trailhead and caught up on writing. I’d been falling behind, not keeping a good habit.

Link had caught up with the rest of the folks who had gone to Wyoming. I really missed community in that moment. I forget what it feels like to trust in people and a community. But I’m so tired of being alone. I pull myself together and push on another mile. Even though I really wanted to go into town and be in soft, clean places. Set up camp at a flat spot up an incline. Dinner and bed.

Day 72

Woke up and got out a bit slow. I’ve been slow in the mornings, which doesn’t feel very karmically balanced. Pushed up the rest of the incline. As I was climbing, a shirtless guy came running up behind me. He talked for a bit before continuing on. I felt some competition flare up in me. I keep a pretty impressive pace up mountains and don’t get passed that much. But it’s quickly faded as I realized we were under truly different circumstances. I was in the middle of a five-month adventure carrying at least 40 more pounds than this guy up this mountain. And I was alright with that.

Kept pushing. Some fear triggers of mine rose up while hiking. I sat with them, picked them apart a bit. Tried to understand them more, what truly bothers about them all. And here, in this physical manifestation of my grounded place, is one of, if not the best places for me to do that.

Made it to a trail junction where I cut off some miles. Then I hitched a few miles of road walk into Twin Lakes. Resupplied and had another burger, and it was good. I’ve talked to some locals who are making an attempt at Mount Elbert tomorrow. Mount Elbert is a 14er, which is a mountain that rises above 14,000 feet in elevation. Intention is to camp near the base and make an attempt early tomorrow morning. It’s the tallest mountain in Colorado, and hopefully I’ll be standing on top of it in a little more than 12hours. It brings up some anxiety with heights but I feel powerful enough to take on whatever arises for me.

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Comments 2

  • Jessica : Jul 3rd

    Absolutely beautiful! Thank you for sharing your highs and lows 🙂

  • Ami Shank : Jul 7th

    Can’t even imagine climbing that high! Thanks for continuing to write.


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