As I was headed down to the Mexican border with my folks, my mom asked, "Why must you go out to 'fight the devil'?"
She doesn't literally mean I'm on a mission of biblical proportion, or that nature is even "devilish". She does, however, understand, the harshness and difficulties that a long hike necessitate. In fact, we drove through the Colorado mountains as well as the New Mexican desert and she got to see first hand what sort of obstacles I'd be coming up against. There is a proper "season" for these hikes, but the truth is, even within the "season" or "weather window" you're still going to encounter a great deal of pain. Personal physical pain, but also weather induced and psychological pain. I've had issues regarding lack of water, knee trouble, navigational trouble, wind trouble, heat trouble, cold trouble, sun trouble, blister trouble, weird muscular trouble, ankle trouble, rain trouble, and snow trouble.
And it doesn't stop. It won't stop. -- But it is what I've chosen.
I do understand, all this must sound awful. And to bring it about intentionally is flat out foolish, perhaps. But the rewards are undefinable.
Without such hardship, the accomplishment is meaningless. And if not for the difficult days, one cannot possibly journey far enough to experience anything of true value.
I'm not particularly religious, but I do believe strongly in things of quality and value. So, rather than "fighting the devil" I see it as a journey seeking quality and value.
It's all a matter of perspective.
The last fifty or so miles have been interesting. As I mentioned, a storm system was moving through. Therefor, we've been dealing with wind, rains, clouds, thunder and lightning, hail, even snow.
But, as bad as it has looked, we've lucked out. Snow hit us, when we were expecting heavy rains. But! Snow is much drier, and more beautiful than rain! In fact, we haven't been hit by anything too heavy, and all lightning strikes have been rather distant. The system should even be clearing up for a few days, but more thunderstorms are predicted further into the week.
Additionally, we are very close to entering the San Juan Mountains of southern Colorado. Which is exciting. It does also mean that we will be living well above the 10,000 foot mark for a very long time, and word is, their is a good deal of snow waiting for us up there.
My body may be adjusting to life on the trail, but the trail itself isn't about to get any easier.
Coming at ya'll from Ghost Ranch, NM.... Spooky, eh?
I'm in for a quick stop here at Ghost Ranch, a super cool Presbyterian retreat center that is right off the trail. Beautiful location, all you can eat meals, showers, a library. This is the type of lay-over hikers want and non-hikers assume we typically get. The type where we can actually rest our weary bones and relax. Unfortunately, few places actually offer this sort of experience and fewer yet offer it at an affordable price. Most often, town chores and logistical matters take precedence and can become more difficult than an actual day on the trail.
The point is, today is easy.
We did hike eight miles this morning.... but, again, things got, well, easy.
We were approached by a young couple in an SUV who introduced themselves and offered us a ride directly to the ranch, which we denied. However, they then explained that they used to work here at Ghost Ranch and if we didn't want the ride we could drop our packs with them and they would deliver them to the guest services counter.