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I wake up and it’s cold out. I dress quickly, putting my thermals on over my shorts. It’s freezing when I step out of the tent, and it takes my breath away. Already the sun is up but it does nothing to warm me up, nor the air. The wind whips around me freezing my finger and my nose. My hands are so cold they sting and hurt as I try to break down my tent. I take several breaks while rolling it up as I try to get my hands warm, shoving them into my armpits. I just want to get hiking but my filter is broken and I need to boil water. I opt for coffee and continue to pack up as the water boils. My stove seems to take forever at this altitude and with the wind. I walk in tiny circles trying to keep warm. Finally the water boils and I pick up the pot on my next walking circle. I rest my fingers over the top in an attempt to warm my fingers from the hot steam. 

I begin the hike and my hands stay in the pockets of my jacket for the first hour. I warm up some but the wind is still bitingly cold. I’m much too cold to poop, and I’m sure by now I’ve lost at liter of water from my running nose. 4 miles in my shoulders hurt from hunching in on myself. I try to keep them back as I continue to hike with my hands in my pockets. At last there is a respite from the wind and I stop to collect more water. There is a spring coming right out of the earth and I pray to the hiking gods I won’t get sick as I fill my bottle without filtering it. I drop some electrolytes in and eat a tuna packet in preparation for my next climb. 

It’s 7 miles in and i still have my jacket, hat and thermals on. The trail opens up before me and I see my next big climb. It looks to be miles but I know by now how quickly land passes when hiking. Then I see it…. 
The sight is beyond expression, the scenery’s beauty far from any description I could give accurately. I feel overwhelmed. I stand and look out into the vast beyond. A full 360 view of mountains upon mountains and I realize, I am on an the adventure of my life. 

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suzie.riedel

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