Living with Crohn’s disease isn’t easy but, trying to hike 3,000 miles from Mexico to Canada doesn’t make it any easier. I’ve lived with stomach pain since a very young age and it stopped me from doing all the normal things that kids and young people do. Now as an adult, it’s even more difficult with work, social life and private life that’s affected by this disease and really, there is nothing we can do about it. Regardless, I have decided to live my dream and hike the Continental Divide Trail (CDT) and bring Crohn’s with me. Right now I’m in Ghost Ranch, NM, 580 miles from the Mexican border I started at 40 days ago. These 580 miles have been a challenge for me because there is no place to hide from the pains that have been affecting me everyday with cramping, diarrhea and constant nausea. Its hard enough trying to walk 20-25 miles a day with a 20 lb pack on, following “trail” that isn’t really there makes it even harder to keep your cool and keep going. Luckily, you can ‘go’ where every you want but stopping several times a day doesn’t help you keep your pace and get the miles you need to make it to the next town.
Hiking 20-25 miles a day and thru-hiking in general requires that you eat 3,000-5,000 calories a day which makes you eat a lot of processed, disgusting manufactured food that has these high calories per ounce which is very important. At home I can control my pains with a strict diet but out here I’m happy to eat a banana or apple every 5 days. This has been the biggest problem for me; getting the calories I need without causing me so much pain that I can’t get out of my sleeping bag in the morning. Food is always on your mind as you stare at the “trail” ahead but, you know the pain that comes with it. I try to buy whole grains or gluten free foods when I can but, Walmart, which seems to be the only grocery store in New Mexico, has a section that is smaller then the respect Crohn’s & Colitis patients get.
The trail has been wonderful as well. The beautiful orange, red, purple and pink sunsets have brought me to tears that I can even be out here to enjoy this gorgeous landscape. The smell of the plants, the wind in my face and the ever changing landscapes have given me a reason for my pain. As I hike I am always looking around at the views, the little lizards that run across the trail and the birds with their great calls. I’m always worried about 6 types of rattle snakes
that live in these areas and can say that unfortunately I have seen two already. I’m not against snakes, they have their purpose but, for a Chron’s sufferer its pretty easy to scare the crap out of me. One was a long, scary looking black tipped rattle snake I almost stepped on in the Gila River valley and another young one on the way into Grants, that was sunning itself on the warm road. Both got into their coiled positions with their rattles rattling loudly, heads poised to
strike and muscles tight ready to leap the 3/4 of their body length to inject me with their venom. I stayed far away from them letting them know I had NO intentions of causing them harm and that I would wait all day for them to get off the trail. Even then I wait and proceed with caution just in case this is some new technique to bite me just for fun.
I can’t imagine not being out here and I know that making it this far is a privilege that many other suffers can’t do. When I get down on myself and the pain is to much, I think of all the other people who couldn’t be out here, who can’t make this type of journey. I walk for you. I walk to help find a cure for this disease and think that this pilgrimage is a blessing that I hope will inspire and change peoples minds about the what is possible for us.
If you wish to make a donation to fund research and awareness for Crohn’s and Colitis you can donate on my page: http://www.stayclassy.org/fundraise?fcid=241603