Programmed for stupidity, the opposite of my symptoms involved wilderness trails, uncertainty, and discarding the majority of the safety nets that guard me on a daily basis. It didn’t take a tremendous amount of convincing for Corey to deal with his own symptoms and join me out West. After a year of planning, filling holes in gear lists, and tying flies; I travelled to a town with equal parts cowboys, hipsters, and hippies. I travelled with excitement and nervousness, unsure if the adventure ahead was an ideal cure or a death wish for inexperienced southerners accustomed to life at sea level.
We stepped out of the rental with cleanish shoes and began walking with the enthusiasm of Lloyd Christmas driving to Aspen. The weight of our packs was irrelevant as we steadily gained altitude and experience. Within a few hours we saw a glimpse of what was ahead and were hooked up with large Brook Trout colored up in beautiful hues of purple. Every fisherman wants to catch but is slightly unfulfilled if the catching is too easy. These fish were almost too easy.
Packs a little heavier, we pressed on to the next lake and campsite. “Walk, fish, camp” became the new cycle. Each day our packs grew heavier and the fishing more difficult. The effects of altitude slowly and steadily manifested in our physical wellbeing. Loss of appetite, flu like symptoms, and insomnia went from an annoyance to things that could not be ignored.
Laying in my tent awake at 3:00 am, I waited for inspiration that the mountains and trout were supposed to deliver. Instead, they highlighted an emptiness inside that I brought with me from sea level. The idea of life without safety nets is far different from actually living without them. When faced with the reality that uncertainty is more prevalent than it was days before, I lay awake thinking only of my loved ones back home and the symptoms of the rut I ran from. However, exhausted and ill, the symptoms now represented a life well lived and full of love.
I am eternally grateful for mountains and trout.