Every once in a while, I wonder at my sanity. The night I spent with a high fever on the AT in Virginia qualifies as one of those times, as does each of my two long, Lymey walks out of the High Sierras. And, today, needing to walk 17.5 miles over a whole lot of exposed terrain under stormy skies with a fever, congestion, and a sore throat also qualifies.
I woke up feeling absolutely awful, but I also knew I couldn’t dwell on it; I needed to get moving while the clouds were still light. I packed up and headed to the exposed trifecta of Searle Pass, Elk Ridge, and Kokomo Pass, better known collectively as Marmotland.
The landscape was stunning, but every step was difficult. Breathing during exertion can be tough. Breathing at altitude can be tough. Breathing with a swollen throat can be tough. Doing all at once was certainly less than ideal.And, then, just as I got under treeline, the rain started.
It would have made for a great misery party, but I pulled it together, focusing on putting one foot in front of the other all the way to Tennessee Pass. Eventually, I emerged from the trees, stuck out my thumb, and willed a car to stop and take me to Leadville.
Why do we do this to ourselves? An east-bounder (an EABO?) pointed out recently that, in the moment, not much that we do out here is actually fun. We sweat and we hurt and we shiver. Basic tasks take so much work. But, somehow, the cumulative effect of all of those uncomfortable, less-than-fun moments is something magical and life-changing. Talk about synergy.