Leadville, CO – August 15th, 2019
I don’t like conflict as a rule unless forced into situations. Raised in the South by an educator turned politician, I was generally taught how to avoid confrontation, while still attempting to get my way. Often referred to as manipulation, I always heard it called “gentle persuasion.” It is an art that I’ve always limped my way through, but my grandmother was a Master.
As the voices ebbed and flowed – mostly flowed – just outside my door, I tossed and turned. Fights would erupt, followed by profanity from one of the other “motel” customers, and the voices would cease for a bit. Whispers would start, the voices would escalate – the same cycle over and over.
Half the rooms appeared to have semi-permanent residents whose habitats had spread to small tables and chairs outside their doors. The furniture was littered with beer cans and cigarette butts, so I was not surprised by the late-night gatherings.
Around 1 AM, I was again jarred awake by the escalating voices of several women just outside my door. In unison, two of my neighbors and I yanked open our doors and, via different versions, asked them to shut the $%&* up! Well, mine was, “Will, please be quiet!”
They stared at us, muttered something unintelligible, and slunk back into their room.
Chores still needed to be finished, so I grabbed my empty pack and headed to breakfast @ the Golden Burro. The restaurant had a western theme, and as I walked into the rather dimly lit, empty room, I wondered about the lack of patrons. This was the opposite of the Brown Mule in Fairway, that was packed, with a waiting list for a table.
Breakfast was just ok. Service was slow, so I switched from coffee to a soda. I probably should have taken a seat at the bar. The servers were super nice, though. Once they found out I was hiking on the trail, they actually gathered around the table to ask questions and give advice. They all loved to hike! I had never experienced such local group interest in any other hike. It was pretty cool.
The local outfitter was open, so I headed there to get some packing materials to send a few things home. I was also excited to see they had light weight Darn Tough socks, so I grabbed a pair of those to replace the ones I had lost to some thieving critter.
The PO was next, and while I waited in line, my back began to hurt. Bending over, I pretended to tie my shoes, hoping the pain would lessen. My chest and side began to hurt also, so I went outside and sat on a bench to wait. Once the pain subsided, so I went back in to get my box, and send home a few things. I was going as light as possible, hoping a reduction in weight would help with the pains in my back, and now chest.
Heading back to my room, I began thinking about the next section. It was going to be about five days out. Maybe I should see if there was a clinic and get a quick check of my chest, blood pressure, etc. I never went to the Doctor, and usually had to get pushed to even get an annual physical, but I was not a young whipper snapper anymore, so maybe better safe than sorry.
The clinic was about a half mile down the road, so I called, got an appointment, and headed out. In summary, they were fast, efficient, and recommended I either go home, or hang around for 1-2 weeks and get some tests done a few towns over.
I was still having pain when not exercising, and my blood pressure was really high. There were also some other odd test results, but I was not going home. I was sure this was just altitude, and my body was probably just handling it a little differently, not that I was older. I had no shortness of breath, and nothing else wrong. This was frustrating.
I decided to sleep on it.
The following day, I called home to discuss the results. I also spoke to some of the Docs in the family. There were some tests that had been suggested, and I was told I should not hike again without having them done first, so I decided to get them in Colorado, and called to make appointments. The earliest they could schedule my tests was nine days out. Insurance had to approve it – I had to get in the system – yada, yada, yada. Forget it – I would see my Doctor. I took ar.
A shuttle to Frisco, car rented, drive to Denver airport, and I was back in CT. It always amazes me that I can drive in three hours what took almost two weeks to hike.
So, I’m home now. My heart is fine. My BP is back to normal. I feel good, but still have the pain, and am having a few more tests done. I’m continuing to get in better shape, and strengthening my back and core. I’m hoping the pain is attributed to maybe straining or spraining something.
I was pretty disappointed about ending the hike, but I’m a look forward kind of person, and have another short hike planned for the fall, and a longer one in the spring. I hope to head back out to Colorado in August, and either hike the whole trail again, or finish up where I left off. It will depend on the timing.
In between, I’ll continue tromping around New England.