If you’d told me when I was hitching out of the Sierras in a Lyme stupor back in 2015 that I’d find myself above 10,000 feet again, I’d probably have laughed. (Or yawned. Laughing would have taken too much energy.) Sitting here, on a plane rapidly approaching Denver, I can’t believe I’m returning to the west’s giants.
In a couple of days, I’ll set off on the Colorado Trail. It’s a journey that I’d contemplated for years, but it had felt out of reach until recently. After the bartonella-induced reticulocyte snafu of the Sierras, it took me a while to decide to give high-elevation hiking another chance.
And, here I am. I feel healthy and strong. I feel toughened from a season of tree planting and then of hiking the Adirondack 46-ers, my newfound loves. Rocks and roots and mud and bugs and trailless peaks can’t scare me! But, I shouldn’t see much of any of those in late summer on the Colorado Trail; instead, it seems the primary challenge will be the elevation that disagreed so strongly with my Lymey body a couple of years ago.
I wonder whether it’s precisely the height of Colorado’s peaks that has elevated them in the imaginations of outdoor enthusiasts. Nowhere in the contiguous United States is there such an impressive collection of high peaks. Here, the mountains are young, so unlike the venerable Appalachians I consider home.
From the skies, the approach to Denver is incredible, with sharp peaks piercing the sky. This is the land of adventure, where backpackers and hikers and climbers are everywhere and advertisements attempting to catch our attention are just as ubiquitous. At least in this way, I’m among my people.
I’ve kept calm while getting ready for this trip — focusing instead on the Adirondacks and art festivals and road trips that had preceded it. I’ve delayed or avoided much of the planning and research and have builtinto my trip ample flexibility, in case health necessitates it.
But now, seeing the silhouetted peaks on the horizon, I can feel my pulse quicken. I can’t wait for the next few weeks.