In June 2015, Pine Nut and I took a PCT zero day to follow the side trail to Mount Whitney, the tallest mountain in the Lower 48. While Whitney was incredible, I spent the whole day feeling rather physically miserable — in sharp contrast to Pine Nut, who spent the following day waxing poetic about hiking Whitney and wishing everyone could experience the wonder of that hike.
Tonight, tucked into my tent at 10,000 feet, still thinking about the beauty I saw higher in the mountains today, I’m wondering whether on my hike of the Colorado Trail I might glimpse the hiker’s high Pine Nut was riding. At this elevation on the PCT, I was already a hurting unit; here, I think I’m acclimating well.A big part of that magic, I believe, is the fact that I’ve gotten my Lyme and bartonella infections under control: Today, I’m 17 months healthy!
During my years of relapsing Lyme Disease, I spent 17 months in bed; there’s something wonderful to the symmetry of having a remission stretch that long. (Of course, I’m totally up for ditching the symmetry next month and continuing to celebrate health.)
When I think back on these 17 months, I think what surprises me most is the pace that life is moving at. I’ll regularly think of something that feels as though it happened ages ago and then learn it was only last year.
If I may share, since Lyme went into remission, I’ve walked a dabbler of Caminos in France and Spain; visited my sister in Wales and in Vienna; enrolled in a post-bacc program in Kentucky, and then decided that it wasn’t for me right now; become a professional artist; launched my own business; spent a season growing and planting trees in Vermont; shown my work at a gallery in Kentucky and fine art festivals in Kentucky and Ohio; hiked all 46 4,000-footers of New York; and set off on the Colorado Trail.
Briefly: This is why we need cures. People deserve to be able to dream and plan and hope.
Sometimes, I wonder whether my doing so much is a response to my having such little control for the Lyme years. I certainly know that it was Lyme that taught me to embrace the now, to make the most of the good days. Being able to have the energy to get out of bed in the morning is miraculous, and it’s something I still don’t take for granted.
I wish I could go back in time to some of my darkest Lyme hours and explain to myself that there would be days like this ahead. Days where storm clouds part to reveal mountains guarding a high-elevation meadow. Days where dozens of squirrels dash about, each holding a mushroom in its mouth. Days where morning starts with a sunrise and dusk falls beside a little stream.