I had a warning about the trail leaving Lima from some Southbound hikers. They told me that it followed the Idaho/Montana border and it would go straight up and down. It was described as a steep roller coaster.
Sweet, I was ready! I left Lima feeling refreshed… Bring it, CDT!
It was an intense section. We got rained on everyday as we tried to navigate our way up and down steep mountains. It was beautiful, and reminded me of the San Juans again. I could see for miles and miles. Every moment on the divide was absolutely stunning, and I loved it.
But, by the time I arrived at Leadore, I was completely spent. The CDT had smashed me.
It wasn’t just my legs that hurt. My stomach had started to feel tight, and things quickly went downhill. I felt like I had no energy, felt lightheaded, chills, and GI issues. I looked at myself in the mirror and I could see my ribcage sticking out. The trail had sucked everything out of me. I ran my fingers over my bones and thought “How am I supposed to pull another 700 miles out of this body? What’s going to be left?”
The pain in my belly got worse.
I spent 2 nights in Leadore trying to recover. But, Leadore is one of the smallest “towns” on trail. It’s so small that I literally couldn’t find an apple, banana, or yogurt in town. I was stuck eating frozen chicken pot pie and lunchables from the gas station. My stomach was repulsed at me, and I was so upset that I didn’t have access to any fruit or veggies.
I couldn’t heal my body without healthy food. I barely ate.
As I lay in my hotel bed, I caught up on blogs of other CDT hikers. One group had apparently road-walked to Anaconda from Bannock Pass. The 120-mile alternate route was mostly flat, had 3 restaurants, 3-4 hotels, and a hot springs resort. It looked like a mixture of quiet dirt and paved roads. I could do that with minimal effort. And if my belly acted up, it would be easy to rest in a hotel.
I checked the CDT elevation for the next section, and it was clear that the roller coaster would continue. I didn’t want to be on the divide. I felt too sick. Was there another way to Canada?
Other hikers had similar ideas. We were all tired. In the end, 8 hikers dropped down to roads. Some wanted easier miles, some wanted hot springs, some wanted to carry less food and hit more towns.
And maybe that’s what I love about this trail. You can do whatever you want and nobody gives a crap. Because chances are that we are all taking an alternate at some point. And frankly, nobody cares.
My body slowly recovered as I walked on the roads. My belly started to feel better, and my energy returned.
I cruised easy miles, soaked in hot springs, listened to audiobooks, and most importantly, was happy.