Simba Hikes the CDT - Final Dispatch
I am no longer on trail. I’m writing this blog from a cafe in Ogden with warm coffee on my side. It’s still surreal to be here, but I’m processing it. I don’t know what to think, feel, or say, so I’ll try my best to rehash what my last 3 weeks have been like.
It all started when I hiked into the sunset out of Ghost Ranch, NM on Oct 20th. I was motivated and wanted to finish by Nov 11th with an average of 26 miles or more a day. It would be hard, but I knew that I was ready to push through and get the trail done. This is when things went south. I made about 7 miles before I set up camp in the dark. I had felt a cold coming on the past few days before, but it didn’t seem like anything major. I laid down and started to doze off, but just before I was asleep the pain started.
My right ear felt like I had a knife jabbing inside of it.
I tossed and turned. I didn’t sleep for a second. Eventually it got to a point that I decided to check the time. How long had I been laying awake?
It was 5:30am.
I decided to pack up camp and walk back to Ghost Ranch. I needed to get this ear infection taken care of. I couldn’t keep going with this pain. At the time I thought that maybe with meds I could get it cleared up in a few days and get back to trail. That was the plan. No if, ands, or buts about it. I hadn’t walked all this way for nothing. I was 2,300 miles into this hair-brained “hike” and I wasn’t about to let a stupid ear infection stop me from reaching my goal.
I’m very fortunate to have two Aunts who live in Santa Fe. They both played “ambulance” and came to my rescue. I went to Sante Fe to rest and hopefully zap this ear infection with some rest.
2 days turned into a week. One week turned into two. After days spent in deep thought about the CDT, I decided it was time to be done.
My CDT hike had run its course.
I’m still processing this decision. Its been three weeks now since I hiked back to Ghost Ranch. Sometimes I feel content with my decision, sometimes I feel like a failure. Lately, the most consistent emotion is failure. Ouch. Hey.. at least I’m honest, which is all I intended with these dispatches.
Although I feel like a failure, there is no failure in hiking 2,300 miles on the countries backbone for 4 months. The Continental Divide is some of the most rugged terrain I’ve ever put myself in. It beat me down, emotionally and physically all the way from Canada to New Mexico.
The past 3 years I’ve been extremely privileged and humbled at the amount of hiking I’ve been able to accomplish around the world. I’m coming to terms with the reality that these strenuous endeavors won’t always go as planned, and I’m ok with that.
Maybe I’ll come back and finish another time, maybe I won’t. Either way, it doesn’t matter.
I love long distance hiking, but it doesn’t always have to be the compartmentalized “thru hike”. I will continue to hike because I love it, not for the boxes to check off.
I’m forever thankful to GEAR:30 for their support. I couldn’t have done it without you.
Till the next trail.
- Cody Lee