Hints of Burnout: This Is a Really Long Trail

I’m just under 2,000 miles in, and I still have about 700 miles left. I definitely am feeling a sense of burnout at this point. Though the views remain stunning and majestic, my body and soul feel more and more tired. I know that I will make it; the pull is too strong and the momentum of everything I’ve hiked so far is too powerful. But I will need a shift so I can keep enjoying my self in the moment. Instead of wishing I was done and somewhere else.

Day 107

Woke up in Bozeman and made some breakfast. Gabe was studying and then left for work. I hung out for a bit, then organized my day. Gabe has a bike I used to head into town. Resupply at the grocery store, sent packages from the post office, then biked to a nice park I hung out at for a while. There was a cool climbing boulder that I worked on for a bit. My upper body strength has definitely diminished.

I biked back and hung out. Made some food, I sewed my shirt that had ripped on the shoulder, packed things up, and binge-watched the newest season of Stranger Things until Gabe got back. He had a soccer game after work so we made a pleasant, healthy meal. We discussed life and the various paths through it, then we retired.

Day 108

Woke up, showered, and packed up. Gabe had managed a ride with a friend so he drove me to a meeting spot before work, and I hung out. Pickup and ride went smoothly. They had good energy and it was a fun time. Dropped me off at the trailhead and we went our separate ways. As much as it was needed for a break, it felt really good to be back on trail.

Green mountains

Hard to follow trail up to a road that had an amazing view. One thing I really noticed was almost no beetle kill. I thought looking at a living, forested mountain would be different and powerful. But I didn’t realize how much. It was so green and full of life, rejuvenating just looking at it. I pushed on till I found a nice spot for the evening and went to bed.

Day 109

Woke up and had a bit of a morning. My shirt had ripped again so I sewed it up. Got out and pushed. Started a pretty big climb and ran into some SOBOs. I leapfrogged and chatted with another NOBO, Montana. Had a massive, pounding thunderstorm hit and pass us. Ran into Slim, who I hiked with a bit in the Bootheel. He was doing some unexpected trail magic in a pretty remote spot, which is always cool. Pushed on and ran into P-Diddy, who I hiked with a bit in the Gila River. Pretty cool seeing all these people. Pushed farther up the climb and ran into maybe ten SOBO hikers, the most hikers I’ve seen on trail on this trail. A true bubble. More rain joined us for the climb till we reached the ridge, and what views. This is spectacular landscape. Hiked till I found a spot with a sweet view to set up. Dinner and then bed.

Montana, enjoying the views of his namesake

Montana, enjoying the views of his namesake.

Day 110

Woke up and got out. Hiked some gorgeous ridge till I decided to hop down to an alternate that would save me a few miles. Bushwhacked a bit till a gorgeous trail along a creek canyon. Made it to a road and chugged along. A massive thunderstorm came through. Pretty constant precipitation for half the day into the evening. During a break in the rain, I took a break and made dinner. It felt good to intentionally make and take time for myself. But rain came back and I packed up and chugged along. Hiked until another break in the rain and set up camp for the evening.

Day 111

Woke up and got out. Hiked the morning to a town that was just houses and a big old interstate. I don’t hitch interstates as cars are usually going too fast rocks stop and I’m unsure of the legality. But eventually someone did stop and pull over. A nice woman with her two sons. She has a sister who hitchhikes a lot so she’s sympathetic to the struggle. Got into Lima and went for a burger; it was really good. Ran into a bubble of hikers, including Bearman! Who I haven’t seen since Trail Days in Silver City. It was really cool seeing all these familiar faces. I set up a tent and hung out a bit, making a sort of dolled-up camp meal with goodies from town. Went out later and hung out with the hikers and a local. We went back to the motel and hung out. The local, Trevor, showed us his gun collection. And we tried to play a game but there was a bit too much chaos. I retired at some point and slept well.

Day 112

I woke up and did some work on my shoes. They’ve got some holes that I tried to sew and repair. Then went and got some breakfast. I was supposed to get a letter so I checked the post office but it hadn’t come in. It was Saturday and I couldn’t wait for it. So I went back and hung out till a shuttle back to trail from the guy who runs the motel. Got back to trail and felt the burnout. Here I was again, starting another few day trip.

Fence along the divide

Reached a trailhead and started a climb. Ran into some SOBOs. This was a roller coaster section. And I’ve done roller coaster sections on other trails but this was a different beast, as most things are with the CDT. All exposed, incredibly steep slopes, just up and down and up and down. Exhausting, but beautiful. I dropped to a spring and cooked a meal. I’m enjoying hanging out in nature a bit more than hiking through it, so moving is a bit sluggish. Climbed back out and came across a basin with maybe 200 sheep dotting the mountainside. It added to the surrealness of the landscape. Pushed till sundown, when I made camp at the top of a nice climb. There were no mosquitoes so I just had the rai fly up. I felt a bit more connected to the world as I found sleep.

Sheep dotted mountainside

Sheep-dotted mountain.

Day 113

Woke up and took some time. I’m very wary of burnout as I still have 800 or so miles to hike and I really want to enjoy it. The pull of Canada is strong along with the momentum of everything behind me and those are OK motivations. But I don’t want to be in a place where I’m rushing because I want it to be done. Took some breaks, saw a herd of elk, passed some SOBOs. Reached a nice site at sundown and tried cowboy camping. Found sleep easily.

Day 114

Woke up and everything was covered in frost that had soaked it all. So I stayed for the sun to  dry some of it out. Got out and pushed miles. Had a big descent and then a big climb. I’m just descending and climbing in and out of a valley but the valley is massive. When it does open like this, it has a similar feel to the Basin, and New Mexican mesas and canyons. Idaho and Montana have more vegetation, and the mountains have a surface feeling that changes. But there seems a deeper feel that is and has been similar throughout the hike. It is truly gorgeous. Made it to another top of a ridge for sunset and set up camp.

Mountain sunset

Day 115

My contact was bothering me so I took both out, rocking glasses again. I got out early, but my battery was low so I decided to drop down off the Divide to a road that would get me into town today. Long road walk into town. Played with perception and tried to understand what distances looked like from the ground. Eventually got into town and went for a burger. It was good but I’ve been craving a pizza for a bit now. Showered and laundered as some of the hikers from Lima got in: Javelin, Stretch, Hawaii, and Dan. Plan is to get back out there tomorrow and try to catch up to Wraps and friends before the next town.

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