My boyfriend and I went camping over Labor Day weekend (2014). We went to a pass in southwestern Colorado called Molas Pass. It’s between Silverton and Durango in the beautiful San Juan mountains. Molas Pass holds a special place in my heart, not just because it’s spectacularly beautiful, but also because it’s where I finished hiking the 500 mile Colorado Trail in 2010. (The Colorado Trail goes from Denver to Durango and I had completed the Molas Pass to Durango section before I completed the section that ended at Molas Pass – so my last miles were to the top of Molas Pass, not into Durango.)
I was so strong, and so fit, when I completed The Colorado Trail in 2010. I could hike 15 to 20 miles in a day, with a 45 pound backpack on, without trouble. My legs were like rocks. My arms and core were pretty solid too.
Completing The Colorado Trail was an accomplishment. It was on my bucket list and I did it. I walked every step of the 500 mile trail in one summer. I spent more nights in a tent that summer than I did under a roof. There were times that my body hurt while I was hiking. Of course my back and feet hurt at times – that’s what happens when you carry a backpack up and down mountains for hundreds of miles. But it wasn’t really that hard for me. It took effort – for sure. But I was strong, fit, prepared, lucky and I had the right equipment, so it wasn’t hard necessarily. It was putting one foot in front of the other and I knew that I could do that.
I had taken seven 500 milligram Cipro pills before I hiked the Colorado Trail. I was under my tolerance threshold for fluoroquinolones. I had no idea that a fuse had been lit inside of me and that a bomb would go off a year and a half later. My tendons were fine at that time. So was my cartilage. Neuropathy wasn’t a word that I had heard, much less one that I thought would ever apply to me. I was never so pompous to think that I was indestructible, but I knew that I was strong – very, very strong. I had no idea that I had already been exposed to something that would knock me down and make me feel very, very weak for a while. I had no clue – none.
I spent several days hiking with a guy who had a horrible disease that was causing him to dissolve from the inside out. His bones were disintegrating and so were parts of his brain. Despite the pain that he was in from his disease, he also hiked the entire Colorado Trail in 2010. It must have been hundreds of times more difficult for him than it was for me. The amount of perseverance, strength and tenacity that he had is beyond admirable. I hope that he gained what he wanted from hiking the CT – strength, a sense of accomplishment, the knowledge that he could do it, etc. He certainly gained the admiration and respect of everyone that he encountered. He is a braver person than most – certainly braver than me.
Recently, my uncle suggested that I hike The Colorado Trail again. To prove to myself that I could do it post-flox. To show myself that I had recovered. To demonstrate that I still am strong. I don’t know that I need to prove my strength to anyone else. But maybe I need to prove it to myself.
I know that my tendons, cartilage, muscles and nerves have recovered to the point that I can live normally. For all intents and purposes, I am fine. I am healthy and active. I am not sick.
But I’m not sure that I can hike 500 miles. I’m not sure that my body can hold up to that kind of stress now that the flox-bomb has gone off in me. I’m not sure that my tendons are strong enough, or that my knees can hold up.
My own doubt (and not being sure that I want to do it – to tell you the truth) is probably holding me back more than anything else. Hiking the CT again would also require giving up my job and things like that. Giving up health insurance is something that I don’t take as lightly as I used to. Excuses, excuses.
I should do it. I should put strong back in present tense when describing myself. It would be an accomplishment to hike the trail again. I’m not sure that I can do it post-flox. That doubt makes doing it more meaningful. I would feel as if I had not only done something difficult, but overcome something even more difficult in order to do it.
If a guy whose bones are dissolving could do it, a recovered floxie can too.
It’s on the bucket list. Again.
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