Last week was the greatest yet worst week of my life. I spent the week at a camp called Wilderness through Young life. It consists of spending six days hiking through the Rocky Mountains in Colorado, and let me tell you, it is not an easy task! I sold coffee to help pay for the trip, but you can only make so much in coffee sales. I was so excited for this trip and I had been for a long time! When it finally came around I was so happy, but a little nervous. After all, the Lupron hasn't been working as well as we had hoped so who knew how I was going to feel! I already have terrible back pain and spending six days hiking with a 50lb bag on my back probably wouldn't help! Here's my day to day of the trip; good and bad.
First of all, the bus ride to our hotel was 27 hours which is about 25 hours too long. The bus was packed full which means nobody got enough room to actually get enough sleep
We got to base camp around 8:00 am and turned in all of our watches and cell phones, which means that was the last time we would actually know what time it was for the next six days. We got all of our stuff packed for the week: clothes, sleeping bag, community gear (for me that was pots and a fly for the boys to sleep under), a sleeping pad, a Crazy Creek, shoes, a meal for the group, a helmet, and any other things we thought would be necessary (apparently deodorant was not). After everything was packed, we had club which is a great time of singing and talking about Jesus before we hit the trail. After club we had our last real meal for a week and prepared ourselves mentally before we hit the trail.
Sometime early afternoon we got our stuff and loaded up in a van that took us to our trail and dropped us off there. We prayed for good luck the next six days and then we started hiking. The first 20 minutes or so were the hardest. Our bodies were getting used to not only hiking up-hill with a heavy pack, but doing this above tree-line where the oxygen was scarce compared to good old Bath, MI.
It was a lot of uphill the first day and about halfway through our hike, I started crying. I couldn't exactly tell why I was crying, but I couldn't stop. I was exhausted from not sleeping the past few nights as well as hiking. I was scared for my pain and I was feeling so incredibly homesick. My family has been the only constant in my life for the past 4 years and I was by myself 27 hours away from them. It was very uncomfortable emotionally. I convinced myself that I would feel better after I got some sleep, and that I just needed to make it until then. I still couldn't stop crying and Michaela (on of my favorite people who happened to be the guide on the trip) just thought it was because of my pain, which it was, but not completely. I really really really just wanted to go home. I knew that it wasn't easy for anybody, but I really was convinced that it was what I needed to do. If I couldn't survive the first half day, how was I expected to survive five more days?!
After dinner (which I didn't eat because I felt sick), we had some time to chat, and then we went to sleep. I was so thankful that we got to sleep and I was the first one in the tent ready to go. My motivation was: "I need to do this for my mental health. Endo has already taken so much from me, I cannot allow it to take this away too." It helped me calm down and finally go to sleep.
I woke up a little better, but once we started getting camp packed up, I started crying again. I went to Michaela and told her that I wanted to go home but that made me cry harder. She told me that she knew I didn't want to leave and that I wanted to climb this mountain and for some reason, that made me feel sooooo much better. I stopped crying and didn't cry for a couple more days (we'll get to that).
We started hiking and it was a very easy day. We were in the valley all day so it was hot, but it was also just a day of flat land. This was good for my mental health just as much, if not more, as it was for my physical health. I knew that I could do it and that it wouldn't be uphill the WHOLE time.
We stopped for lunch and started life stories. This was a great time to get to know everyone on our trip. Michaela went first and I knew most of her story, so I already knew she was such a strong person, but hearing her tell her whole story made me realize just how strong she really is. I am so glad to have her to look up to, and I am so thankful she came into my life a year ago.
After lunch we hiked again. It was easy like the morning and when we finally reached our campsite, I wasn't tired OR crying (BONUS!) and I was in a good mood. The second day wasn't as memorable as any other day but that is perfectly fine. I needed a chill day to just recover from the first day and prepare for the rest of the trip. A good thing about this day was that Michaela was in the back of the group instead of the front and so, since I was always in the back of the group, I got to talk to her all day. She truly is one of my best friends.
Today was a great day emotionally. I just keep getting better. It wasn't the easiest day by any means, but it was made up for by something amazing. Overall, the trail was not easy but not too hard either. It was a great combination of up and flat ground, but to be honest, I don't remember the trail too well. I just remember the afternoon.
At lunch time, we were already tired and when we got up to start hiking to our campsite, our guide said "Will someone pray for our campsite?." We just assumed it was for the one we just ate at or for our hike to the campsite to be a good one. We didn't catch on to the fact that we weren't hiking anymore. We were all so relieved when we found out, but also a little suspicious (with good reason). As we were setting up camp, we all got a little irritated with each other, and nobody could agree on where to put the flies. Once we were in the fly and setting up our sleeping gear, it started raining which didn't help with the mood. A few minutes later we hear "GUYS YOU HAVE TO COME SEE THE RAINBOW!"
We were expecting a regular rainbow, but when we got out of our fly, we noticed the most vivid double rainbow we have ever seen. It was also so close and so small. We could see both ends of the rainbow. We all decided that this was a legitimate sign from God telling us to cheer up, and it worked. We watched this rainbow for almost an hour just watching it slowly fade away. We were all hugging each other and so happy because it was so beautiful.
After dinner, we played this game called Mafia and everyone was so surprised as to how pumped up I got, especially because I was so down the first day. I was screaming and cracking up, and my enthusiasm frightened some people I think because after all, the game was about killing people and I was getting a tad too excited.
It was still light out when our guides said, "We are all going to go to bed now and make sure you all have a flashlight available." We were so happy and tired that we didn't really think about why we are going to bed so early and why in the world we would ALL need a flashlight, so we just went to sleep.
We woke up and it was pitch black outside. That's why we went to bed and needed a flashlight! The stars were absolutely beautiful. There was no light pollution like at home, and all of the stars were so bright and clear. I could have stared at them for hours! We got some breakfast and started hiking. Keep in mind we had no idea what time it was, and the guides wouldn't tell us, so we had no idea how long we would be hiking for. After about an hour, we dropped our packs (thank goodness) and we were told that we would only need our water, our helmet, and our camera if we had one. That meant there was no going back. We were going to the top of the 13,821 ft mountain.
As the sun started rising, we noticed that we were above clouds! We were all so amazed at how high up we were. It was absolutely beautiful. The sunrise in the mountains above the clouds is one of the prettiest sights you'll ever see! That eased some pain from my body, and gave me the mental energy to keep climbing, but it was all uphill from there. After many hours of climbing up rocks, we finally made it to the top of the mountain. We were all so proud of ourselves and exhausted. It was beautiful! Everything I saw on this trip was beautiful though, even all of the dead trees!
We started to hike down the mountain back to our packs, and by hike, I really mean slide. We slid many miles down and after we got to our packs, we had a second breakfast. We were all tired and hoping that we would just camp there for the night, but we were told it would be too cold and dangerous, so we loaded up and started hiking again.
This part was the scariest part of the whole trip. A few of us (especially me) thought we were going to die. We had to climb down a SUPER steep hill that had a stream running through it. We basically slid down the whole thing, but there was also a lot of sideways walking which was difficult with a heavy pack on our back. A couple times we all slipped and it was scary. We had to climb over a few fallen trees, and I, of course, scratched my knees. There was one point, where we were using the plants as support (probably more for mental support than physical support because how strong could these plants be?) and we had to climb down a piece of land like a ladder, but all of the surrounding plants were thistles so we couldn’t grab them for support. I started crying (surprise surprise) at this point and when the girl behind me fell onto all of the thistles, I started crying for her! I felt so bad because I was hurting and I DIDN'T fall onto the prickly plants.
After about an hour of climbing/sliding down this slope, we made it to the valley and we all just laid down and ate two meals because we missed lunch. We asked our guides if they were scared and they said they weren't and that they wouldn't make us go down something that could be dangerous, so that made us feel a tiny bit better. We thankfully set up camp and just went to bed without doing much else because we were all so exhausted. That day definitely showed us that we need each other to survive, since we helped one another get down safely.
**Side note: There are animals called pikas and they are like fat mountain hamsters and I love them**
This day was also a great day. We all had said that if we survived the day before, we can survive anything. Michaela was at the front of the group, and so was I. I could keep up with her since I was getting more and more acclimated to the weight and the altitude (altitude messes with a lot!). We talked a lot this day too which was great. We talked a lot about my views on the meat and dairy industry (there will most likely be a blog about that soon) and we talked about her and her life wishes. We agree on a lot, but also we have some opposing views which makes for good conversation!
When we stopped for lunch, a girl found a mountain pineapple (which doesn't exist by the way, a guide just handed her a pineapple secretly). Either way, it was very tasty on our pizza bagels. After lunch we hiked some more, and we saw a moose! I pretty much attacked Michaela out of excitement because I had really wanted to see a moose on the trip. Then Michaela pointed out that there was a baby moose too which was soooo cute, then she got scared because Momma moose are pretty scary. When your guide is freaked out, so are you! We just waited for the moose to pass, then we hiked a little more to our campsite.
The guides told us that tonight we were sleeping by ourselves which was so exciting for me! It was a tad scary because I didn't know where I was, but it ended up being amazing. Each leader got to spend about 40 minutes with each person from their local area, and since I was the only one from Bath, I got to spend a couple of hours with Michaela. This was probably my favorite part of the whole trip because we got to make dinner for everyone (since she knows how much I love cooking) and then we just sat and talked for a while. I really feel loved when I get to just sit and talk with people for a long time and I had a lot of fun. After we talked until after dark, it was time for bed so Michaela left and I stared at the stars praying for it not to rain that night (which it didn't) until I fell asleep. It was a great night.
Today is the last day of hiking and it was easy for the most part. It was a lot of downhill that wasn't too steep, so we went pretty fast. We got out of the trail and ended up having to cross the Rio Grande which was way wider and deeper than any other river we crossed that week. We had to do a partner crossing which was a tad scary but it was easier than crossing alone. After we made it to the other side, a van was waiting for us to take us back to base camp. We made it. We officially were done hiking and we could shower soon.
When we got back to camp we unpacked our things then we got to shower. We only got 3 minutes to shower, but it was a great 3 minutes. After our shower we had some free time and I ended up buying a YL cookie cutter which is perfect. Then we had dinner which was DELICIOUS. It was the best stuffing I had ever had, yummy bread, garlic mashed potatoes, green beans, and a giant cookie. There was turkey too but I didn’t eat that of course. After dinner we had club again which was a lot of fun, then we said goodbye to our guides (but I'll see Michaela soon thank goodness) and got on the bus for another 27 hours back home. Although I was so happy to be going home, I will miss all those people and the experience was a once in a lifetime opportunity. I am so so so happy I didn't let my Endo or my depression stop me from doing this. It was the greatest experience I had ever had and I am so thankful for the opportunity.
I decided to start a blog because my mental and physical conditions are constantly changing, and I want to help encourage people with similar experiences, and let them know they are not alone.