“In the beginning of the hike I had such a hard time finding a pace. And I was having problems with my feet. I found it hard to get into the trail. I think I had a clear notion of what I thought the trail would be like. For example, I thought it would be more solitary. At one point I wrote in my journal, ‘The trail is a giver, not a negotiator.’ I meant by that you have to take what the trail gives you. I’m analytical, and I kept asking myself, ‘Is this what I wanted?’ But you see awesome things all the time! Just shut up and enjoy. That’s all you have to do! And things will just start showing up in your life. You will experience trail magic.
My experience in Creede was insane. I had met this couple and they had given me a ride from the trail into town. We talked on the 10 mile drive into town. They were interested in what I was doing. The usual conversation. When we got to town they offered to treat me to lunch, so we went to this place with cabins and we talked some more. When lunch was finished I asked the waitress how much a room was for the night. It was $135, way out of my budget! So, this couple said, ‘Well, if it is alright with Blue Mountain, we would like to pay for her room tonight.’ I said, ‘What!?’ I tried to thank them, but I couldn’t even look at them because I would start crying. So, I stayed the night in this huge cabin, with four beds in it.
Before I got to my room I saw there was a theater group putting on the play Our Town. So I bought a ticket and went. It was amazing. It meant so much me and to this trip. I think I cried the whole second half of the play. After the play, the actors came back on stage and you could go up and talk to them. They were fascinating, and I was open with my emotions about how the play had moved me. They really liked me, so they said ‘Why don’t you stay another day. We are doing another play tomorrow. We’ll give you a free ticket.’
Because I had this free theater ticket, I needed to spend another night in town. So, I had run into this same guy, a bartender, three different times in Creede, having a beer with him. He said to me, ‘Yeah, sure, you can sleep in my front yard.’ When I got there I found out it was pretty much a parking lot, but I found a spot and set up my tent anyway.’
Everything in Creede is pretty expensive, but the next day I was hungry and I was ready to pay $18 for this large pizza for lunch. I went up to pay and they told me these bikers had already paid for it. I went over to them and they were like ‘Yeah, we paid for your pizza,’ and just waved me off. I met them again, later in the day, because I had told them how to get to this particular place, and one of the guys just handed me a $20 bill. It was like, ‘Really!? What is this!’ It was insane.
I had met this guy named Medicine Man the night before. I found him a place to stay. Well, he camped in the parking lot with me. He had extra food, and he gave me his food. Insane! When I got to the top of Mt. Elbert, someone handed me a burrito and some grapes! This is just what happens on the trail, you just keep receiving. I kept asking myself, ‘Do I really deserve all of this?’
Being the beneficiary of gifts on the trail has been a sort of theme for me. Some guys I was hiking with said it was because I am small and look young, I speak with an accent, I’m cute, blah, blah. And, I am sure there is something to that. I probably look more vulnerable and needy than a big guy. But this guy I hiked with, Geronimo, doesn’t believe it. He says there is something about my personality that makes people want to help me. I didn’t get a chance to ask him what he means by that. I’d like to see him again to ask him.
I think there is a reciprocity to receiving. It is about giving, too. I camped one night with this guy from Canada who is hitchhiking around the United States. He decided he would just spend two weeks hiking on The Colorado Trail. But, he is really unprepared to camp at 12,000 feet. He just has a tarp and a sleeping pad. I asked him, ‘What can I do to help you?’ He said he needed a lighter, did I have an extra one? As a matter of fact, I did. I had been given a lighter on Segment 2 of the trail when I needed one! I just thought, ‘Well, thank you for allowing me to give something in return for everything I have received.'”