September 7, 2015 I stumbled off the Colorado Trail in Durango, Colorado after walking four hundred and eighty-six miles. The original plan was to do the long distance hike from Denver to Durango with Oliver. It was a spur of the moment idea for us to head out on the trail. Oliver had never been to Colorado and we both wanted to be in the mountains. I had always had in the back of my mind that a long distance hike would be a cool thing to do.
So with less than a week of planning and preparing we set off from the Waterton Canyon Trailhead outside of Denver. The first one hundred miles from Denver to Breckenridge began to work their magic. Sinking into myself, feeling grounded and clear, and beginning to let go of the family pressure I had been feeling prior to setting out into nature. I was in a transitional place in my life.
Oliver and I had been living in Asia for the better part of the last two years. I had just finished a film job in Uganda, and my family was breathing down my neck to get a job and stay in the USA.
Inside I was feeling lost, confused and unsure of my next step in life. Having a mission on the trail, being immersed in nature and asking for guidance and clarity was the hoped for antidote.
We had an amazing eight days out on the trail together. Oliver unexpectedly got some work back in Europe and decided he needed to go. The thought of completing the trail alone never crossed my mind, resigning myself that we would come back next year and finish it together. We hitchhiked back to Boulder and Oliver set off back to Europe.
I was left in Boulder feeling lost, confused, numb and not sure what to do.
Going into meditation I asked, and received the instant reply: “you need to go back out there and finish the trail by yourself”. “Ok” I said to the little inner voice, and began my preparations.
A Craig’s list super score, brand new, lightweight, one person tent, became my soon to be new home for one hundred dollars. While picking up a new guidebook, chatting to the saleslady, telling her I was about to go finish the Colorado Trail by myself, she enthusiastically responded that her nineteen year old daughter had done it alone. The experience left her feeling invincible, and she had absolutely no problems or trouble. Exactly what I needed, this boost of confidence let me know I could do it and be ok. The first little miracle and positive sign that I was doing the right thing.
Armed with my card board sign that read FRISCO Colorado Trail Bound, my good friend Ashley dropped me off the next day on the side of the freeway. Hitch hiking solo for the first time ever, nervous and excited, I stood on the side of the onramp holding my sign. Heading back to the trailhead where we had exited the trail a few weeks before, wondering if I would get picked up, and aware that my nervousness and doubt were not optimal. After about twenty minutes the first car stopped. A dodgy tourist from Brussels, with creepy ulterior motives, wanted to know if there was anything good to see in the area, and did I want to show him the sights and maybe go for coffee. “WHAT? I want to get to the Colorado Trail, not go on a date!,” I thought, and gracefully declined the offer.
My energy needed changing, if this was the kind of ride I was attracting. Going into a meditative state, I asked infinite source to clear all fear, anxiousness, and doubt, raise my vibration to the highest possible level, fully protect me, attract only the best, safest rides, and get to the trailhead before noon. Instantly my energy shifted to a place of confidence and trust. Five minutes later a pickup truck stopped. The driver was also a traveller type, and could take me as far as Idaho Springs, which was about half way there.
Hopping in the front passenger seat, I felt instantly at ease, as he spoke about his world travels. Reaching his exit, jumping out on the side of the freeway, as cars whizzed past, I heard from otherworldly guidance “you will get another ride in five minutes,” and I did.
A sporty silver sedan stopped, and another nice guy picked me up. Chatting away about his work as a granite countertop rep, it was another perfect ride. He took me to Frisco and dropped me off at a gas station. Easily walking the five minutes to the free summit county bus, which conveniently stops at the Colorado Trail head between Frisco and Breckenridge, relief washed over me. My first solo hitch hiking adventure was a huge success.
Hopping on the Summit County bus, sitting near the bus driver, a friendly, slightly overweight, older gentleman, excitedly I told him about my solo thru hike mission. With wistful enthusiasm, he reminisced about his cross Canada cycle trip, he had done in his younger days, saying it was the highlight of his life, and wished me luck.
Exiting the bus at eleven-thirty a.m., thirty minutes ahead of schedule, about to lift my heavy pack onto my shoulders, I noticed that my red, zip up, lightweight jacket that was in the outside pocket of my pack was gone. Uh oh. Instead of chastising myself for not securing the jacket properly, my loving inner parent said,“oh well I guess I don’t need it now,” and asked infinite source that if and when I do need more warm layers that they be presented to me.
Hoisting my pack on my back, feeling relief, and a little trepidation I set off.
The first miles were tough, moving slow, under the weight of my pack, the excitement of the unknown carried me along. A runner passed me and about an hour later came back the other way. He asked me if I was on my way to Durango, and said he had done the whole Colorado Trail himself and it was great. He wished me luck and ran off. Another boost from above, signalling that this adventure was going to be amazing.
The power of positive intention created the mental structure each day. Setting crystal clear intentions, repeating them over and over, and deleting any fear or negativity, required vigilant awareness of my thinking.
- Thank you that I always meet nice, friendly people.
- Thank you that I am always safe and protected.
- Thank you that I am healthy strong and motivated.
- Thank you that I always have what I need.
Without fail my intentions always came true. Within the first three miles, a pair of gloves materialized on the side of the trail. Minutes previously, contemplating the potential for cold temperatures and my lack of gloves, the universe instantly solved that dilemma. Reaching down with a smile, picking up the instant glove manifestation, the power of my thought was confirmed.
Climbing steeply uphill, above treeline, the views of the mountains were spectacular. This solo moment in the mountains, high above the trees, was what made life worth living. Contentment washed over me, and the inner angel said, “to your own self be true Polly”.
Covering nearly ten miles that first day, descending to just below the trees to an amazing camp with a view, inspecting the ground for the flattest spot to set up my tent, I noticed a cell phone lying on the ground. Picking the phone up, feeling sorry for the person who lost it, and not sure what to do, it rang. Shocked by the surrealness of the moment, I tentatively answered. The woman on the other end was the wife of the man who lost the phone. Explaining to her that I just found the phone on the side of the trail, we hatched a delivery plan. The following day’s route passed by Copper Mountain Resort, dropping off the phone in the lost in found, for her to pick up later, provided the perfect solution.
Karmic payback for finding the gloves earlier in the day, returning the lost phone completed the transaction. Quickly setting up my tent, preparing an instant meal of prepackaged Indian chana masala, a wave of deep relief and intense emotion washed over me. Breaking down into tears, squatting on the ground, the internal pressure finally released, as the sun set over the mountains.
Saying a silent prayer, asking for clear guidance as to what infinite source wanted me to do with my life. My deepest, heartfelt desire was to complete my life mission. Having clear direction was all I wanted.
Tears running down my face, feeling broken, lost and alone, a red fox appeared out of nowhere. He stood there watching, looking straight at me. He heard my cries, my demands, my fears, and frustrations. He responded, “It’s going to be ok. You are right where you are meant to be. You will be protected. You will get answers. We hear your cries.”
Circling my tent three times, making his mark around it as he went, job done, he wandered back into the trees from which he came. Stunned, amazed, relieved, and still crying, I looked up into the sky. The sun had set and darkness was nearly upon me. My first night alone in the wilderness.
Embarking on a massive unknown journey that loomed ahead of me at such a distance that it didn’t seem real. Looking up through my tears, a massive owl sat in a tree off to the left. The owl left the tree, flew around me three times, and returned back to the same tree. Telling me it was going to be ok. I could do this, and was protected and safe. My two animal guardians had come to give me this powerful message, and mother earth was there to absorb and transform my pain and confusion.
Still crying, laying down to sleep, sinking into the solidness of the earth below me, I felt completely supported. Surrendering to the all encompassing energy of mother nature, and knowing deep in my heart, I was exactly where I needed to be. Flooded with overwhelming feelings of gratitude, comfort, and protection, forces beyond me were lining up to help me complete this crucial mission.
Sound asleep, tucked cosily under my duvet, the creek of my bedroom door opening alerts me that I am not alone. My roommate was at her boyfriend’s place for the night, so I knew it wasn’t her. My inner panic bell sounded. High alert, this is not good.
Wearing a ski mask, the tall, sturdy, intruder, pulls the duvet off of me. Deep from the depths of my being a loud growling grunt, erupted. Bolting upright I tried to punch him.
The power, anger, and super human force, came from somewhere else through me in that instant. There was no time for thought. It just happened. This incredible surge of power scared the masked man, and he ran out of my room. Grabbing a ski from the corner of my room, I chased him out, making damn sure he was gone and not coming back. I could have ripped his head off.
Shaken and stunned, not knowing what to do, I phoned my roommate, telling her what had happened. She called the police. The police rape unit interrogated me and said the man was here to rape me. I was incredibly lucky to have dodged the bullet, and then, they just left me there.
Crippling fear at night plagued me for years following this encounter. The nightmares and terror were close to debilitating. I tried to bury it as best I could and be in places that were safe, especially at night. Although nothing physically happened to me that night thirty years ago, the post trauma from that event has haunted me ever since, leaving me with a paralysing fear of it happening again. Overcoming my nighttime demons and facing them head on was another reason for my solo mission. My mind had been terrorizing me more than that man ever had, and it was time to get over it.
Sitting multiple ten day silent Vipassana meditation courses and reading many self help books, taught me, that my mind can be my worst enemy or best friend. Awareness of my thinking is up to me. If it is causing chaos then I need to change it.
Overcoming my nighttime terror was a massive challenge. Facing and clearing the fear once and for all, was something I wanted more than anything, but it was still omnipresent even though the animal kingdom and mother nature were there for me. Praying hard, trying to breathe it away, I finally fell into a deep sleep.
The following morning, I awoke, still there all in one piece. No person, or animal attacked me in the night, saying a silent thank you, day two of my Colorado Trail Solo adventure began.
Getting up with first light, and searching for my food bag that hung in a nearby tree, was my daily morning routine. This food hanging procedure, prevented bears and other animals from eating the food and it always worked well. Some mornings, still half asleep and forgetting what tree it hung in, caused temporary waves of panic. Thinking it was gone, and still darkish outside, I couldn’t see or remember where I had hung it.
Saying a short prayer after hanging my food became a daily ritual. Asking the tree, angels, and fairies to please protect the food bag and keep it safe throughout the night, worked every time. Saying a silent thank you prayer in the morning when it was still there, always made me smile with relief.
After collecting my food bag from the tree, I would return to my tent, boil up some water for coffee and enjoy watching the sunrise. Breakfast consisted of some form of cereal or trail mix depending on my resupply luck. Meditation, intention setting, writing, and yoga became the pillars on the ground I walked. Gaining clarity with the next step in life, confidence, happiness, and connection were my reasons for being out on the trail.
In order for this to happen, it was vital to make the time in the morning. Sitting quietly, reflecting in writing by asking and creating space to receive guidance in meditation by listening. Purposely camping in areas where other people weren’t, knowing they would be a massive distraction. Cherishing this morning alone time, always camping off the beaten track, people camped near me only twice.
Packed up and on the trail by nine am, morning routine completed, I walked all day until five or six pm. Setting my camp intention around four pm, asking that I be shown a great place to camp, that was safe, protected and preferably with a great view, worked every time.
It was a steep descent which landed me at the Copper Mountain Ski Resort Village. Resisting the descent into human reality, wishing I could stay in the hills forever, it was a lesson in acceptance. The Copper Mountain lost and found was not far off the trail. Calling the owner’s wife to tell her the cell phone was there waiting for her felt great. Karmic return is so cool.
Outside the lost and found were two other thru hikers who invited me to sit with them and have a coffee. We had a great chat. They had just been living for two years in Uganda, working for an non governmental organization there, and were also in a transitional place in their lives.
Incredible synchronicity, we were on the exact same wave length. Instantly talking to two people who completely understood me was an amazing gift, and after a long conversation they set off down the trail. We camped nearby each other that night and never saw them again.
Day three started magically with an amazing sunrise. The breathtaking blood red sky, stopped me in my tracks, on my way to retrieve the food bag. These beautiful moments in nature require me to pause, stopping what I am doing and fully experiencing this minute.
The color of the sky, the beauty of a flower, the view around the corner, drinking it all in, none of it I can keep. It is all going to pass. The color of the sky will change. The next mile will be different. Asking me to be present, feeling it one hundred percent, honoring the majesty of the moment by absorbing it with every ounce of my being. Stopping, I take it all in.
Nature makes my heart sing. She is my mother, and this is where I belong. Happy in my heart, being outside all day and night, surrounded by the sounds of water flowing, birds singing, the sun on my face, and quiet in my soul, this is my true home. My place in the world, where I feel free, and truly connected. She fills my being with peace, stillness, power, and the humbling reality of my insignificance in the mix.
Again in heaven up above the trees, walking up and over another mountain pass, the descent down the other side was so spectacular I cried. The wildflowers more beautiful than anything I had ever seen. An amazing rainbow of colors; purple, orange, pink, blue, white, red, and yellow flowers for as far as the eye could see, and in the distance, towered majestic rugged mountain peaks, like a real life scene from a guided meditation.
On the horizon, dark clouds starting to roll in, and I made the decision to set up camp early. The clouds had rain on their mind. Setting up just in time, I was safe and dry in my tent just as the first drops began to fall. Cooking gluten-free, rice noodle miso ramen, and a cup of Bengal Spice tea, I ate in my tent as the rain began to fall.
The decision to camp early was a good one. Pausing in times like these and asking twice for guidance, would always provide the right answer. A few days later, meeting a couple that had carried on walking through that rain, they said they were miserable, and actually had decided to pull the pin on their trip after that.
Descending the next day to the end of the segment, brought me back into civilization. The Colorado Trail is broken down into twenty-eight segments. Each segment varies in length from twelve to twenty-two miles. The end of a segment happened where there was a trailhead, road or access point.
Coming to the end of a segment always felt bitter sweet. I loved being high above the trees, away from people, cars and civilization. Coming down meant leaving that behind, but also would give me a little boost of accomplishment and meant turning the page in my little pocket guide book. It meant being a little bit closer than I was before, making it to the end of something and beginning again.
Saying a friendly hello to everyone I passed on the trail was important. If I wanted to only encounter friendly nice people, I better be one myself. So I was and it felt good. Stopping and chatting to everyone who seemed interested, people were always encouraging, and sometimes even in awe that I was by myself.
The thru hikers that were going Northbound were my favorite to stop and talk to. They had started in Durango and were walking to Denver going the opposite way that I was. Alerting me of what was up and coming, if there was a section with no water source, and in general they gave me the heads up. An infrequent occurrence, seeing one every few days, was a little boost, knowing they were doing it too and I wasn’t really alone out there.
Fast, light and all carrying the same backpack, the “real-thru hikers,” all had trail names. Averaging twenty to twenty-five miles a day, they had already done the whole Appalachian Trail or Pacific Crest Trail, they never looked tired, and were what I called PRO.
Feeling like a real rookie out there in the “thru hiker” realm, the first thing I noticed was most of the PRO’s had trekking poles. “Maybe there might be something to the whole trekking pole thing if all these PRO’s have them,” I thought. Leading me to ask, “Please infinite source, if there comes a time when it would be beneficial for me to have a trekking pole please let there be one for me. Thank you,” and I left the trekking pole idea at that.
My first resupply point of exit was at Tennessee Pass, about nine miles from Leadville, Colorado. Camping close to the trailhead allowed for a quick turn around. Returning to the trail that afternoon, and walking another seven miles into the next segment was my plan.
Constant low grade fear at night still plagued me. Working hard to dissolve the fear with the help of Abraham and Esther Hicks, was my main mission. Abraham, a collective entity of universal truth channelled by Esther Hicks, teaches that in order to change my reality I need to change my thoughts. Abraham recommends reaching for a better feeling thought, one that is closer to the feeling of safety than of fear.
Reviewing the nights and days past, remembering everything good that happened and choosing to put my focus on the reality of the positive. Reminding myself that every single person I had encountered was friendly, nice and out there to enjoy nature. Asking for protection from the surrounding trees, mother nature, and infinite source, the next morning I woke up all in one piece.
Normal morning routine completed, I packed up and wandered out the five minutes to the road, setting my intention that I get a fast, safe, enjoyable, easy ride to Leadville.
Sticking my thumb out for my second hitch hiking adventure, my ride arrived in five minutes.
The driver, a nice Mexican man, who spoke very little English, had been living in Leadville for twelve years and came directly from Mexico. He hadn’t been anywhere else. Dusting off my rusty Spanish, we chatted Spanglish, as we drove into town. Pointing out the trailer park where he lived, explaining he was happy with work, and liked the community, but for some reason he really wanted to go to San Bernadino, California.
“Muchas Gracias,” I enthusiastically thanked him, hopping out of his Toyota truck in the Safeway supermarket parking lot. He pointed out the laundromat next door that even had hot showers and WiFi. My resupply mission was lining up very efficiently.
Throwing my little empty, orange box of washing soap in the rubbish bin, a black fleece jacket lie there alone. “I guess it is time for me to have a warmer layer” I thought, pulling it out if the otherwise empty bin. Tossing it in the washer with my other clothes, the jacket was the perfect size, and I wore it everyday from then on, really needing it. “I am being provided for” I thought, “and miracles really do happen.”
The couple that got drenched in the rainstorm were also there in the laundromat. Hitchhiking had been really hard for them and they walked almost the whole way to Leadville. I couldn’t believe it, because I got such an easy, fast ride with a nice friendly person. But this was my intention and I always set this intention before all of my resupplies and hitch hiking missions. (It always worked) The couple, on the other hand, believed that they weren’t going to get a ride and that hitching was hard. (and for them it was)
Washing and internet checkin done, freshly showered, I wandered across the street to the supermarket. “Hey Colorado Trail Thru Hiker!” A half crazy looking Texan yelled out to me. I guess I stood out a little with my massive backpack on my back walking into Safeway. He was exuberant and was also thru hiking. Excitedly telling me he had already lost twenty pounds, he was so full of life and enthusiasm, I couldn’t help but smile and congratulate him. We exchanged a few stories and that was it. I never saw him again.
Putting my backpack into the shopping trolley, I slowly pushed it around the supermarket. My hunger was so extreme that shopping took ages. Most hikers I met out on the trail had organized their food resupplies ahead of time by sending themselves boxes of the food they knew they would need in advance to the resupply points.
Organization is not my strong suit. Winging it is, and I was sure it would all work out. (Which it did.) However, it was a bit of a challenge sometimes trying to find vegan, organic, gluten free, lightweight food in some of the small towns I went through.
The options were limited at times, but I always managed. My mainstay menu was LARA bars (a mixture of dates and nuts ground up together), trail mixes, and dehydrated mashed potatoes mixed with miso soup mix. Organic spinach and carrots, were my resupply highlight. Food needed to be lightweight, if something was too heavy, I just said no.
Two hours later, shopping done, backpack repacked, heavily loaded down with four days of food, I hit the road back to the trail head. Within five minutes of sticking my thumb out, a sporty guy from Glenwood Springs, picked me up, who was going for a run at the same trailhead. Easy!
I made it back to the trail within fifteen minutes of my target time, and walked the seven miles into an amazing camp spot by a mountain lake. Successful first resupply mission accomplished, and I was feeling elated. Ok, I thought, this is going to work out.
Everything is exactly as it is meant to be. It will all become clear. Be present with yourself and in nature. Listen for the signs. They are all around you. It will all unfold perfectly.
Nighttime fear, my biggest challenge, started improving by day seven, as a result of awareness of my thinking and consciously changing it. I asked mother nature to take the fear, hold me, and support me. After making this request, there was nothing to fear. The inner connectedness of all beings, of everything linked energetically together, was palpable. The energy I send out felt by all creation. The fear came only when I felt separate and alone. Asking that it be replaced with serenity, peace, confidence, and connectedness, the fox and owl that circled me and my camp the first night felt me needing support and they came. Abraham Hicks says that my attitude, vibration, and thoughts create my reality. The rapid, tangible manifestations of my thoughts on the trail was phenomenal.
Segment ten of the trail was not my favourite. The honeymoon was over, walking all day in the trees with no views and heaps of mosquitos.
The next segment lifted my spirits though, finding a picturesque campsite tucked in below the trail on the side of an Aspen covered slope, with views of the sunrise, and Twin Lakes mountain backdrop. A closer read of the guidebook alerted me it would be easier to hitchhike to my next resupply point in Buena Vista if I went another three days on the trail. The three extra days weren’t factored in when I did my food buy in Leadville. In order to make it three more days, I headed the one mile downhill, off the trail, to the small village of Twin Lakes, to get more food.
Setting my intention that all I needed would be provided at the small general store in Twin Lakes. Repeating my intention as I walked down the hill, smiling with anticipation, that they would have organic peanut butter, two vegan dinners, and gluten free cereal.
Walking into the General Store, the nice guy working behind the counter greeted me with a friendly “hello hiker!” Directing me to the “hiker free box”, which was lying on the floor next to the door, he said other hikers left things in the box that they didn’t want, and I was welcome to take whatever I needed.
The “hiker free box” was like christmas. Everything I needed and asked for was in the box, including organic peanut butter and amazing dehydrated vegan dinners that someone had made in their own dehydrator. Feeling blessed beyond belief, I bought a can of coconut water, and charged up my phone outside, while I drank it.
Anxious to get going, a full day’s walk lay ahead of me, and it was already pushing twelve o’clock. Making my way back up the hill to the trail, within a few miles I was back in civilization again. The trail paralleled a road and crossed over a dam. It was hot and challenging to be in the lowlands again.
Stopping to take a break for lunch at a beautiful spot with a view of the lake and mountains, another solo woman thru hiker coming from the opposite direction stopped and chatted with me.
Hiking the Continental Divide Trail from New Mexico thru to the Northern Colorado boarder, she had already been out for three weeks. Talking with her was a great moral boost. She recommended a hostel in Lake City, and said another free resupply there was possible from all the food other hikers had left. Lake City felt like another universe, as it was still two weeks away, but I took note and wished her well on her journey. Finishing the day, with a big uphill and the reward of an amazing camp by a river with spectacular mountain view.
Head down, focusing only on the trail beneath me, telling myself I could take just one more step. Not looking up at how much further I had to climb. Completely drenched, wishing I had better rain gear, and conjuring up memories of my running days when I used to do hill workouts.
Reminding myself I used to RUN up hills. “If you could run then you can walk now. Come on Polly you can do it,” my inner coach urged. Slogging up those fifteen miles in the pouring rain, I pulled out all of the positive motivation mental tricks I could think of. This too shall pass.
Planning to camp at the next water source which was still three miles away, I didn’t have any water left so opting out early wasn’t possible. Wet and exhausted, making it to the small creek with nearby campsite, which was in the trees, wet from rain, dark, and felt claustrophobic, I wasn’t stoked. Making a split second and possibly crazy decision to fill up my water bottles and keep going, saying to myself, “I didn’t put all this effort in today to camp in a gloomy spot!” It was six o’clock at night and a bit of a gamble, but I knew getting out of the trees there would be a better camp.
Finding an inner second wind, I charged uphill for another hour, making it out of the trees and onto the top of the saddle. Elated that there was an amazing camp spot with a view, I quickly set up my tent and hung up all of my clothes. Hoping optimistically that they would quickly dry with the last rays of the emerging sun.
Making a fast dinner, I crawled into my sleeping bag just on dark. Awakened at five in the morning by the sound of horses and a flashlight beaming into my tent, my heart raced, and fear gripped me. Trying to make sense of why there were horses at this hour of the morning and why a light was shining into my tent. Terrified, I unzipped my tent and looked outside to survey the situation. Thinking maybe they were just hikers getting an early start, but my tent was off the trail so couldn’t sort out why they would be coming my way.
Deciding to go looking for my food bag, getting away from my tent, hoping the fear would subside, it was still dark and there were a lot of trees. In my panic, I couldn’t find the tree my food hung in. “Ok Polly, calm down, wait for it to get light out. Go back to your tent. You will be fine.” The voice of reason kicked in. I returned to my tent and found that the horses were tied up close by. Weird.
Finally realizing, I was camped on a faint side trail that led up to Mount Yale. The flashlight was just a hiker looking for the side trail and going for an early morning summit climb.
FEAR = False Evidence Appearing Real
The terror and panic I put myself through for no reason is crazy. I guess I have a little more inner work to do. Finding my food bag as the morning light gradually made its appearance, I slowly calmed down. After eating breakfast, I was still feeling a bit out of sorts and quickly started packing up my camp.
A dog barked and an older man walked by on the trail. He yelled a friendly hello and then shouted out “are you ok?” How did he know that I was feeling like a nervous wreck? How did he know to ask me if I was ok? He was another of my trail angels reminding me that I wasn’t alone, and that someone cared.
Shouting out in reply, “ I am ok, thank you, have a great day.” The simple kindness of that stranger brought tears to my eyes. Shaking off the mornings fear, I set my intentions for a successful resupply, on my three mile descent down to the trail head:
Thank you that I get a quick, safe, easy ride.
Thank you that I easily do my washing and check internet.
Thank you I find four days worth of food.
Thank you that I eat some Mexican food.
Thank you that I easily get a safe ride back to the trailhead and make some more miles today.
In less than five minutes, after sticking my thumb out a car stopped. It was a Dad with his little girl.
I threw my pack in the back of his Toyota Forerunner and hopped in the front seat. We got to chatting and it turned out he knew a friend of mine in Crested Butte. This was the second ride I had gotten from someone who knew my friend Erika in Crested Butte. I took this as a sign and mental noted to contact her.
Eating a Mexican vegan tostada, while my clothes were washing, I checked the internet on the free WiFi. This intention setting really works.
Wheeling my shopping trolley with backpack around the crowded, tourist infested supermarket, I was feeling overwhelmed by all of the action and ready to get back to solitude on the trail.
Reorganizing my pack with the newly acquired food, underneath the outside awning of the supermarket, another thunderstorm hit. A green, Subaru, station wagon drove by, and my inner voice said, “that is your ride.”
Setting my intention for a safe, fast ride, the green Subaru re-appeared. It was another Dad, this time with three adorable kids. They were on their way for a family hike and happy to give me a ride. Chatting with the Dad about his work for the Forest Service, he did trail maintenance in Montana before moving to Colorado and starting a family.
The conversations with people hitch hiking, a real glimpse into another world, were always fun. Jumping out of the car with eager anticipation, grateful for another successful mission accomplished, I set off back into the wilderness. Sitting, freezing cold under a tree, rain hammering down, thunder and lightening, the omnipresent threatening twins, forced me to carry on.
At six thirty that evening, after setting my camp intention, I heard “it is coming soon”. Climbing to the top of a ridge, off to the left, I saw a side trail that looked like it went to an overlook. Taking the trail to the left led to a perfect camp spot, with amazing view of the mountains and valley below. Quickly setting up my tent, boiling water for instant mashed potatoes, ripping open a bag of instant Indian dahl (lentils). I poured it over the mashed potatoes and quickly ate.
Thunder clouds were brewing again and I hurriedly got everything inside my tent and hung my food bag, diving inside my tent just as the sky unleashed. Thunder, lightening, buckets of rain and wind descended as I lay in my tent praying for the storm to pass and to stay dry.
Giving thanks that the timing was perfect, for the beautiful camp spot, and that I was warm and dry in my tent. Even my fear was shifting. The previous night I had actually seen the fear. It looked like a spirit / dark entity around me. I forcefully told it to go and to leave me alone. It worked.
I had the best night sleep of my entire trip with minimal fear. This was my main work, releasing the fear, walking through it, facing it head on and expanding out of my comfort zone. I was tired of being a prisoner of my own mind, and it was time to be free.
When the going gets tough the tough keep going.
I hit my low point between Buena Vista and Salida. The Colorado Trail leaves the wilderness at Mount Princeton and follows actual paved roads for six miles. It was hot, and walking on paved roads with a heavy pack with cars whizzing by me was not my idea of a wilderness adventure.
It was a test, another level acceptance. Nothing I could do to change the situation meant, accepting the present circumstances as they were, whether I liked it or not.
Developing equanimity, and accepting reality as it is: I am walking for six miles on a paved road with a heavy backpack and it is hot. This is my reality. It is my choice how I react and respond.
I can feel grumpy, angry, and irritated that it is hot, walking on paved roads for six miles, or I can just walk, dig around for some Gratitude (how amazing that I can do this walk for thirty-eight days, how amazing that my body is strong and healthy, how amazing that I have the time and resources to be here right now) all with the knowing that THIS TOO SHALL PASS.
The choice is mine. To be honest I was somewhere in the middle. Not one hundred percent grumpy but not one hundred percent in harmony with the moment either. Doubt began to creep in: why am I out here again? why am I doing this? is this dumb? The battle began in my mind.
A white wolf and a dark wolf battle in my mind. The white wolf symbolises light, positivity, highest thoughts and my best self. The dark wolf symbolises negativity, doubt, anger, negative emotions and low vibration thoughts and beliefs. Which wolf wins? The one I choose to feed.
Things were beginning to feel monotonous and the honeymoon period was definitely over.
Walking in the lowlands for thirty-seven miles, whether I liked it or not, no views, flat, hot, and thunderstorms, if I could get through this things had to get better. Nearly to the halfway point,
my night time fear was almost gone, a massive achievement and miracle, but my morale was low. Most of my mental time was spent asking infinite source for guidance on the next step on my life path. “Just tell me what to do next and please make it clear,” was my request over and over in my head.
“Go back to Bali,” Source replied, over and over, loud and clear, and “contact a certain retreat centre about teaching yoga and meditation there.” I trudged through those thirty-seven miles, thunderstorms, low moral and all.
Before I even crossed the road to start hitching into Salida for my next resupply, a van spotted me and pulled over. I couldn’t believe it, another Dad with little girl in the van. He was running mountain bike shuttles and said he always picked up Colorado Trail hikers when he saw them at the trail head. He was an outdoorsy guy living in Salida enjoying the lifestyle and making ends meet.
Mountain Bike Dad gave me all the vital information I needed, the location of the best health food store, and where to get a shower. He dropped me off in Poncha Springs five miles out of Salida and within ten minutes another outdoorsy man stopped and picked me up, dropping me right outside of the health food store.
Slow motion salivating, pushing my little shopping trolley with my backpack, the tiny health food shop was like strolling through the isles of heaven. Five minutes into my food fantasia experience, Andrew, a solo thru hiker (PRO) that had passed me around Tennessee pass a few days earlier, popped out of one of the isles. Unbelievable coincidence. He was with another solo hiker girl, Erin, who had passed me with her three dogs around the same time Andrew did.
Chatting in the healthfood store entrance, Andrew and Erin also had low morale. They were struggling, having taken two days off in Salida already, saying getting back out there again wasn’t easy. This was like music to my ears, knowing it wasn’t just me feeling this way, and Andrew was even PRO. It felt like a sign. The universe saying “come on Polly. You CAN do this. You are not alone.”
Andrew and Erin eventually carried on with their shopping and we said our goodbyes.
Every minute in that health food store was bliss, eventually making my way to the check out with my goodies, I had a very uplifting conversation with the checkout girl.
Checking the internet as I polished off an entire bag of Blue Corn Chips, massive tub of hummus, and two cans of coconut water. Firing off an email to the Bali retreat centre, enquiring about a yoga teaching job, and phoning my friend Ashley in Boulder, I told her my struggles. Moral was low, the weather sucked, I was sick of thunderstorms, and it was feeling long and monotonous. HELP! “You are half way. It is going to get better. Stay positive. Shake it off. You have to finish this. You are meant to finish this. You can do it!” Ashley, my touchstone angel, brought me back into alignment.
Positivity on the rise, I started walking to the laundromat. A man came dashing out of a liquor store and wished me luck on my journey. His daughter just finished the AT (Appalachian Trail) and it took her six months, he wished me luck, and was another needed moral boost.
The laundromat was only a few blocks away and I quickly got that task accomplished, next stop, shower. Mountain Bike Dad told me there was a bike shop in town with a shower and they let people use it for five dollars.
A block’s walk down the road, a couple stopped and asked me if I needed a ride into town, and I wasn’t even hitchhiking. Smiling, happy and back on track, everything conspired to keep me going and supported. The very nice couple took me the mile into town and dropped me at the bike shop.
“What kind of music do you like?” the friendly bike shop girl asked, “because there is a sound system in the shower.” Emerging from my bike shop shower feeling reborn, I had only one stop left and the clock was ticking. Getting back to the trailhead before dark, and making some miles was top priority and it was already after five o’clock. Conveniently, the outdoor store was close to the bike shop, and they had the fuel canister that I needed.
“What’s the easiest way back to Highway Fifty?” I asked the salesman as he rang up my sale, “I am hoping to hitch hike back to the Colorado Trailhead before dark.” He replied, “Actually I know someone that might be able to drive you there.” Tears welled up in my eyes. The unlimited amount of support I was receiving from kind strangers blew my mind.
Louis, the trail angel, an older retired man, liked helping hikers on the Colorado Trail.
Piling my very full backpack into his car, he laughed and said “it’s always the smallest people who have the biggest packs.” Oh well, I thought, I am not PRO. Obviously.
“No way, there’s Andrew!” I exclaim. “Louis you have to stop!”
Pulling the car over and picking up Andrew, who was also on his way to the trailhead, was another incredible synchronicity. Louis and Andrew bantered “trail talk”, which was all above my head, and we successfully reached the trail head. “Thank you Louis!” we said to our amazing trail angel, hoisting on our packs and walking off into the wilderness together. Walking those few hours with Andrew was another massive gift, a welcome reprieve from my own brain.
He was also vegan, but ironically worked as a chef in his family’s cheese steak restaurant in Florida. He was proud of the fact that they were the best cheesesteaks around. “But Andrew you’re vegan,” I said quizzically, his logic confusing me. Somehow it all worked out in his mind, he loved his job and that’s what counts.
Making some good miles walking at his PRO pace, we boosted it until just before dark. Extremely grateful for those few hours walking with Andrew, and the much needed respite from myself, I knew continuing on alone was crucial, and maintaining his pace for an entire day would have been unsustainable. The next morning Andrew set off as I finished up my yoga/meditation/journaling routine, and I never saw him again.
Things were looking up. The trail started climbing again bringing me to my favourite place, above the trees. Reaching the top of the pass simultaneously as a whole posse of friendly mountain biker ladies was another uplifting Godsend, chatting for ages on top of the world.
“This is why I am here,” I said to myself, feeling a second wind, taking in the breathtaking views, and renewed with happiness. The next two weeks were going to be good.
Staring, frozen in time, into the eyes of a large black bear, the next morning began with a bang. My first bear encounter was exciting and took it as a good sign.
Meandering through wide open cow pastures for miles, after the trail descended, a dead cow, was my next animal sign and didn’t feel like a good one. Lying on its back, legs straight up in the air, in the middle of a wide open windy field, just me and the dead cow, was surreal and a bit bizarre. I kept moving, not liking the vibe, and put in another fifteen mile day. Back again in the trees my morale started wavering.
The mental game was starting to get me.There hadn’t been any thunderstorms for the past couple days, and my nighttime fear was significantly diminishing, but somehow I was still having a mental struggle. The journey was feeling long and inside I was still feeling lost.
I started asking the BIG questions: Who am I ? Where did I go? What do I want?
How do I want to feel? That kept my mind busy for the day, and desperately hoped that in the next two weeks I would find myself. It was time to dig deep.
Inner guidance told me, “you are out here for a reason. Now is the time to find out who you are. You are being guided and protected. It will all unfold and become clear in the next two weeks. Stay on the path.”
The next day, I was still dragging, feeling sad, low, angry, frustrated with life and God.
Collecting water at a beautiful mountain lake, an epiphany hit. These FEELINGS were holding me back. The sadness, anger, and frustration were NOT serving me, and I gave up the inner fight. The battle between the two wolves in my head ended, the struggle was over, something clicked. Ready and willing for the white wolf take over, getting out of my own way, I surrendered right there by that mountain lake, and at the same time, the handle on my water filter broke.
Enough water to make it to the trailhead the next day, where I could hitch hike into Gunnison and sort out getting a new water filter. It was all ok. My spirits were lifting slightly after my surrender, but I was still in the trees and dragging on the uphills. One other person, a thru hiker going the other way, crossed my path that entire day. “The next segments are going to be long, hot, and through cattle country,” he warned. Headphones would be a great solution, listening to music would keep me going.
Needing a boost, about to go up another hill, a bizarre purple fabric fairy appeared. Pieces of purple lace fabric, would be there right when I needed a boost, under a rock, or tied to a branch. It was as if there was a trail fairy leaving these bits of fabric for me all day at the perfect locations. Magical, bizarre, and otherworldly, my purple fabric fairy told me she was there, and I wasn’t alone.
That night I slept peacefully with NO fear. Unbelievably incredible, massive inner progress, something changed, I woke up happy, a weight had been lifted off me. I smiled to myself and just knew everything was going to be ok. Drinking the last sips of the remaining water within steps of the trail head, I started to set my intentions:
- I get a quick easy enjoyable ride to Gunnison
- I easily get all my stuff done (laundry, food shopping, internet)
- There is a great health food store
- I see my friend Erika
- I get a second wind
- I let the future go
- I stay present
- I trust that things are unfolding exactly as they are meant to
The next miracle appeared as I reached the trail head. A trekking pole, which I had asked for days earlier, and a plastic container of water with the words written on it “fresh water for you” were just sitting there on the side of the trail. Tears filled my eyes with the incredibleness, saying a silent thank you, I took the trekking pole, filled up my water bottle, and made my way to the highway.
Crossing the road, sticking out my thumb, and sending out my best positive vibes, no one was stopping to pick me up. “This is weird”, I thought. “Why isn’t anyone stopping?”
Taking it as another sign, I decided to double check my map. Under closer inspection I realised my stupidity, I was standing on the wrong side of the road. “Oh my goodness,” I laughed at myself and crossed the road. That was why no one was picking me up.
Within five minutes on the correct side of the road, a big pickup truck with a massive American flag waving out the back picked me up. The male driver, wearing a camouflage outfit, looked like a hunter. Fear crept in, hoping he didn’t have a lot of guns.
Quickly changing my fear into the positive, holding the best possible feelings for this ride and person, I silently repeated, “thank you I am safe and protected,” over and over in my mind.
Telling the driver I had only met nice people on my journey, and silently held the best intentions for him. He had been a bystander in a gun shooting in a movie theatre in Denver, which had left him completely traumatised. Intense.
We changed the topic to his job as a solar panel installer and how positive that was for the environment and that there was always a lot of work for him. His wife bred some kind of rare lizard and recently sold her lizard breeding business for good money, allowing her to be with him on the job site. Things were looking up in his life, and we ended the journey on a positive note. Dropping me off at the outdoor store in Gunnison, it ended up being a great ride, and he was a nice person. Phew.
Adrenalin rushed through my system, hopping out of the truck all in one piece, happy and relieved for another successful mission. Quickly buying a new water filter, I got out of the crowded outdoor store as soon as possible. After days and days of solitude in nature, being back in civilization felt overwhelming.
A groovy looking cafe caught my eye, the perfect spot for a coffee and massive salad. Unable to focus on reading their menu board, fresh of the trail, starving and vegan, I asked the girl taking my order at the counter, “could you please make me a massive plate of everything vegetable.” She said they could and handed me my coffee.
After connecting to their WiFi and waiting a few minutes another angel appeared carrying an amazing salad to my table. She and her two friends had just finished hiking the Colorado Trail. Handing me a plate with exactly what I was hoping for, she said this is what she would have wanted, and was impressed I was hiking the trail alone. Tears again came to my eyes, these moments meant so much. Brief connections with people that cared. They were beautiful, people are good.
The simple, random acts of kindness from strangers has altered my entire view of humanity.
Giving me belief in the innate goodness within, restoring my faith, and helping me to feel the interconnectedness of us all.
Taking a shuttle bus the thirty minutes to Crested Butte, visiting my amazing friend Erika, who runs her own non profit, empowering Central American women who grow Maya Nuts, a fantastic Super Food, that she then distributes. My only “zero” day off was spent skype interviewing with the Bali Retreat Centre. Nailing the interview, landed me the yoga job, and solidified the return to Bali. Life plan sorted. Now I just needed to walk another two hundred and ten miles.
The side door opened and the automatic stairs slowly lowered, about to deliver me into the gates of heaven. The sporty couple welcomed me into their posh home on wheels, politely asking if I could please remove my shoes. The friendly couple made the decision to sell their house in Santa Fe, New Mexico two years prior, moving into the deluxe RV full time, parking up at different sporty locations, mountain biking and working via the internet four hours a day. They said I was the first hitch hiker they had ever picked up.
Dropping me off thirty-five miles later, after an interesting and uplifting ride, I was back at the Colorado Trail head. I set off feeling happy, revitalised and renewed after my resupply and day off in Gunnison and Crested Butte.
My next few days on the trail felt like a true spiritual experience. Walking through wide open expanses of land, breathtaking views, complete solitude, feeling overwhelming connection with the land, mother nature, and infinite source like I never had before. An incredible sense of love and connection, spontaneously brought tears of joy to my eyes. Something in me had transformed, and I was so grateful.
The walking felt easier, the time passed faster and I was feeling happy just to be there. Alone but feeling completely connected and supported by an indescribable source that was pure love. A source that would always be there for me, bigger than any human or material connection could ever be. I finally got it. Looking outside of myself for answers was the cause of my confusion. Going within, surrendering my internal fight, and asking this incredible source for guidance, help, clarity, confidence and direction gave me the truth I had been searching for. My truth.
To thine own self be true.
After two days of pure bliss the weather turned just as I was reaching the top of a pass. Coming out of the trees, I had a decision to make, find some shelter or charge on.
Putting on my rain gear, I chose the latter. Things got pretty intense. I was above treeline, very exposed and the rain kept on coming. Freezing cold and wet to the bone, stopping wasn’t an option, I had to keep walking fast to stay warm and eventually descend to a lower elevation. Pounding, relentless, rain for three hours, the trail kept climbing, reaching the top of another pass after six pm, I finally spotted my safe haven below, a sheltered camp at the start of treeline. Exhausted and still freezing, I quickly set up camp that night, crawled into my tent and have never felt more grateful.
The scenery the following day was magic. Taking my time taking photos, soaking in the amazing beauty, above the trees and about to walk across a massive mesa, the skies darkened. Feeling a bit helpless, naive, and with no other real option I put on my rain gear again and kept walking through another thunderstorm.
Realizing it was a roll of the dice, I prayed hard and thought positive. Putting the teachings of Abraham Hicks into action and it worked. The storm passed, and that night I spent watching nature TV on the mesa. Just watching. The clouds passing, the light changing, I absorbed the reality that nothing is ever permanent. Everything rises and passes away. This moment is all that exists, all I ever have, and it too will pass.
Sticking out my thumb after setting my intentions for a great, safe ride, on the road to Lake City, eventually an old, red Bronco pulled over. The extremely enthusiastic Texan driver, talked nonstop for the entire seventeen miles into Lake City. A painting contractor, he had gotten his vintage Bronco as payment for one of his painting jobs. He dropped me off on the one main road in the small mountain town of Lake City.
The note on the door said come in and make yourself at home. The Raven’s Rest Hostel did feel like home and was a hikers haven. Four thru hikers were just leaving as I arrived and so I had the place to myself. Shower, laundry, food shopping, and internet done I was about to call it a night when Bob and his dog turned up. Oliver and I had met Bob on Day Three.
It was amazing to see the transformation that had happened to Bob on the trail. When we had met Bob on day three, he had recently quit his pharmacist job at Walmart. He was packing some extra pounds, and wasn’t that nice to be around.
After over thirty days out on the trail Bob was like a whole new person. He had lost thirty pounds, he was happy, and we had an amazing conversation. He told me his whole life had been about making other people happy, and as a result he was miserable. This journey on the Colorado Trail he was doing for him. He was out there on the trail because it felt like the right thing to do, and he was happy.
It was very refreshing and inspiring seeing Bob, his newly made commitment to himself, and the amazing results. The encounter left me with this realization: No person, place or thing outside of me can make me happy. I am responsible for my own happiness.
Majestic mountain views, walking above the trees, quiet, and stillness summed up the next few days. The segments from Lake City to Silverton were just what I had hoped for. I endured another nighttime thunderstorm, again making camp before it hit, laying in my tent high above the trees knowing that if lightning were to strike I was the highest metallic structure around. It was scary.
The lightening was directly overhead, praying hard, my inner guidance responded telling me now wasn’t my time to die. The storm passed and all was again well in my world. I was sleeping great at night the fear all but gone.
What goes up must come down.The descent after days above the trees was long, steep, and intense. Slow and suffering, my knees were hating the steep long descent and I just wanted to be down already.
Adding a little ego bruise into the mix, the lovely, friendly, PRO hiker couple who had picked me up hitchhiking from my Lake City resupply mission had started their hike in Durango going North Bound. They picked me up on their way to begin their thru hike, dropping me at the trailhead outside of Lake City and were aiming to get to their trail head in Durango that night and get some miles in before dark. On the drive they told me about their Pacific Crest Trail thru hiking experiences, they sounded definitely PRO and fast.
The couple caught me after only three days. I couldn’t believe it. They had already covered over seventy- five miles. I ate some humility pie as we chatted telling them how slow I had been the past few days at over thirteen thousand feet. I was hoping it was just the altitude but finally it really didn’t matter how fast or not fast I was.
I was out there, solo, enjoying my pace, doing my best, and had already walked nearly four hundred miles. It was a little lesson in self acceptance and in the end we wished each other well, carrying on in opposite directions. Eight miles loomed ahead the next day to make it into my next resupply in Silverton. Due to my slower than expected pace I was a bit behind schedule and also completely out of food.
It was a long eight miles, pretty grumpy, I made it to the road to Silverton just as another thunderstorm was hitting. Putting on my rain gear and my very best cheery face, another Texan in a massive four wheel drive truck stopped and saved me from the storm.
He had just been in a dirt bike accident, and explained in depth the dangers of being alone in the wilderness. He drove me directly to the hostel and shelter from the rain. The kind, cheery older gentleman who ran the RV park, was my Silverton highlight. There doing my laundry, all of my cash wet as a result of my many days of walking in the rain, I handed him a wet, sorry looking five dollar bill and asked him for change to feed the washing machine.
Laughing at me and my wet money, he acted as if somehow I had met him before. He happily gave me some paper towels to dry off my remaining money and left me with a smile. Interacting with the cheery RV park owner really uplifted my spirits.
Hobbling around the muddy roads of Silverton, feeling numb, close to the end, but with still seventy-five miles to go, I was neither here nor there. Not wanting to spend too long in Silverton, I got to business. A nice traveller guy at the hostel, who was leaving first thing in the morning, offered to drop me back at the trail head.
My attempt at a food buy at the Silverton grocery store wasn’t very inspiring, and I left there with only food for that nights dinner. The hostel owner stocked the small hostel shop specifically for hiker resupplies. I bought her out of her entire supply of energy bars, trail mix, and dehydrated mashed potatoes, and at six thirty the next morning was on my way back to the trail head.
A few rainy miles into the walk that morning, I hit my next road block. Out of nowhere two scary, barking dogs came charging at me. The aggressive, barking, sheep dogs, were guarding a massive flock of sheep that just happened to be dominating the entire trail. Stopped in my tracks, the dogs were not letting me pass. I fended them off with my trekking pole. Sending them love and telling them they were doing a great job defending their sheep, I tried to inch my way along, but every attempt to get thru only provoked them more.
Stuck, standing in the rain with no shepherd in sight, I didn’t have many options. Deciding to wait them out, after about an hour of failed attempts to pass by they finally relaxed and let me go. It felt like a true test. Holding my ground, staying calm, seeing the good in them, knowing they were just doing their job, not letting them smell my fear, cultivating patience, love and tolerance for them, I was able to resume my walk.
Wondering why I had been faced with that experience, I saw it as a sign. A wake up call to be where I was. In my mind I was already at the end. Getting stopped in my tracks was the universe telling me I wasn’t done yet. There was still more work for me to do out there. Be present Polly. Be where you are.
The next few days were tough. The rain did not let up and everything was wet. I was miserable and prayed for a miracle. I got one. Instantly, after asking for a miracle, a song came on my headphones that reminds me of my friend Hendri, who died adventuring. A small bird landed on the trail just in front of me at the same time Hendri’s song came on.
The bird started to hop along just in front of me and then would stop and wait for me to catch up, as if he was guiding me along. He would fly a little ways in front of me on the trail, and stop and wait. This happened for ten minutes. It was incredible and brought me to tears, knowing my request was heard.
I was not alone. I will make it out of here. I am being looked after. Thank you! The bird/angel/Hendri boosted my morale, leaving me with a second wind, and I slogged out some more miles through the rain, picking up my pace.
The next day the weather finally cleared, and I had one of my best days the trip. The trail left the trees and followed along a very exposed ridge. A nice older day-hiker couple stopped and chatted with me for awhile. They had both been seriously struck by lightning in a spot similar to the one we were standing in. I said a silent prayer of thanks for all of the lightning in exposed areas that had missed me. Sharing my little bird, miracle story, omitting the part about the song on my phone and how it reminded me of Hendri, the woman instantly said, “the bird was probably a friend of yours that died.”
Breathtaking views, rugged mountains, wildflowers, and amazing scenery made the last three days of rain feel worth it. Happiness filled my soul for all of the lessons: Walking through my fear and coming out the other side, gaining confidence and trust in Universal Flow and Infinite Source, experiencing the power of my thinking and setting positive intentions, getting the visit from my animal guides the fox and the owl on my first night, telling me I wasn’t alone.
Always provided for: finding the trekking pole, the fleece jacket, the fresh water waiting for me when I was empty, finding the gloves and the mobile phone, the purple fabric fairy, the amazing salad from the cafe girl, the little bird/angel/Hendri, all of the nice people who picked me up hitch hiking, having the stamina and determination to keep going when things got hard, knowing there was a bigger point and reason I was out there, and most importantly finding myself.
I took my first and only fall on my last day. A horse running for the barn, and only focused on what to eat when I finished, thoughts of a peach, blue corn chips, and a big organic salad consumed me. No plan, no one waiting for me at the finish line, and no idea how I was going to get back the five hundred miles to Boulder. Boosting it, wanting to make it out of the wilderness that night, I put in one of my longest days yet.
Staggering in, just before dark, about a mile before the end of the trail, I ran into three local women who were out for an evening stroll. They were really friendly and curious about my trip.
One of them asked me if anyone was picking me up at the end. I said no. Upon hearing my lack of plan, she invited me to come home with them. I enthusiastically accepted and they drove me to their house.
Stepping out of the bathroom, joining my easy going hosts in the kitchen, reborn, clean, happy, and exhausted, I couldn’t believe my eyes. There on the kitchen counter, my food fantasy materialized; blue corn chips, a cut up peach, and a beautiful salad. The power of my thoughts, and how quickly they were becoming reality, felt surreal. Overflowing with gratitude, joy, satisfaction, and completion, sharing the beautiful dinner with my angel hosts was the perfect ending to a magical adventure on the trail. Sending me off the following day with another peach after holding hands in a circle saying a prayer of gratitude together, the lovely family was another example of the amazing kindness of strangers.
Staying with a friend of a friend trying to sort out how to get back to Boulder, things just weren’t falling into place. I tried flights, buses, friends, Craigslist and Facebook with no luck.
Starting to feel stuck and trapped after two days of trying to get out of Durango, I booked a rental car. Sitting outside of a downtown Durango coffee shop with my backpack, waiting to be picked up by the rental car company whose office was eight miles out of town, a very creepy guy struck up a conversation with me. Offering to drive me to Boulder the following day, he said I could even stay in an extra bed in his hotel room. Thankfully the rental car van drove by at that exact moment, “thanks but no thanks” I gracefully declined creepy guy’s offer, grabbing my pack and chasing down the van.
Barbara, the friendly van driver, wanted to know all about my trip, and we chatted easily the entire drive to the rental office.
“This is crazy, I can’t do this. I need somewhere to camp tonight.” I defeatedly exclaimed, after an hour of trying to sort out a car. The rates were absolutely insane, an obvious NO. Roadblock. Please help me, I was out of the flow and needed to get back in it. What am I missing? I took over the reins, back in self will, and it wasn’t working. Out there on the trail, everyday was a practice of trust and surrender. Back in the “real world” I forgot all the tools that had just gotten me miraculously through thirty-eight days in the wilderness. Defeated. Stuck. What do I do now?
“You can camp in my backyard,” Barbara chimed in, hearing my desperate exasperation.
“I live forty-five minutes out of town, and have two big German Shepherds, but they have a cage.” Accepting Barbara’s offer, I waited for her to get off work.
Heading out into the very dark countryside, at nine o’clock at night, with a total stranger, felt like a roll of the dice, “please keep me safe, let this be a good decision, clear all fear, and fill me with trust,” I prayed.
Pulling into the remote double wide trailer, Barbara alerted her husband to put the dogs in their cage as sometimes they were a little aggressive with new people. Waiting outside while she got the dogs sorted out, hoping this lady and her husband weren’t some sort of maniac, weird people, I said another quick prayer, asking for protection, safety, and that it all be ok. The friendly couple invited me into the trailer, dogs now secured, told me to take a shower, and even lent me pyjamas and a clean towel. Telling me stories for a few hours, as we watched a massive flat screen TV, they eventually let the dogs, who were also lovely, out of their cages.
Exhausted, pitching my tent outside, I set up camp for the night in their backyard, and it was all ok. My morning meditation revealed the next right step, “hitch hike to Boulder, you will get there today.” Upon hearing my new plan to hitchhike, Barbara and her husband replied, “well then you need a good sign!” and promptly found me some cardboard.
BOULDER PLEASE :), my new sign read complete with smiley face and positive vibes. Barbara said a prayer, “Please keep Polly safe and protected on her journey back,” as we three held hands in a circle. Dropping me off on the side of the road, Barbara wished me luck and told me to text her when I got to Boulder.
Within two minutes, a silver sedan stopped and took me an hour down the road. Six different rides, all within minutes of each other, got me one step closer, all better than I could have planned. Nice people, uplifting conversations, and an amazing natural adrenalin high, it felt like my last and final test. Making it all so clear that I had been getting in my own way, making it all harder than it needed to be. One hundred percent of me trusting, letting go, and knowing it would be ok.
Within thirty minutes of Boulder, it was close to getting dark, and I just needed one last ride. A lady pulled over interested in my trip, “I am not going to Boulder, but you are standing in a good spot. I like your jewellery. Oh just hop in! I am going to take you there!”
We made it to Boulder just on dark, and my last driver angel got out of the car and gave me a hug. It was the end of an amazing, incredible, unbelievable day and journey.
Sometimes it’s the lowest times that bring us exactly to where we are meant to be.