I found a black feather, in the shadow of night, chasing ghosts on the midnight trail.
The longer version:
Salida. Ed and I saddled up the ponies late in the evening, intending to ride the ColoTrail from Blanks cabin, North, into the night. And then back. Not a large ride by any means. But a demanding one, nonetheless.
We left camp in the sweet kiss of evening light, and barrelled down the initial 5 miles high on speed and the magical energy of the last moments of the golden hour. Around mile 6-ish, we found the need to light the torches and ride the ponies rodeo style, in the thick of night.
My pace slowed, to a rowdy saunter, as darkness enveloped us.
I have 3 words for this trail, with a multitude of meanings: That Trail Rocks -- in all possible manners of the word. It is one of my favorites.
The Good news is, I can ride a messy trail of rocks, uphill and downhill, in the dark. Good, good news.
That bad news is: 12 days of 2 different types of antibiotics, a completely compromised diet and all the disorder that creates within the body, have absolutely killed me, any energy store I might have had, and 99.5% of my spirit. Period.
Thus, it was a slow ride for me, chasing Ed, whose black cape feathered behind him, leaving me encased in the liquid night. Alone. And solo. And finally (for once), very, very comfortable. At last! I have found comfort on the pony, in the Wild (and sometimes terrifying) West, in the secretive places of the night-forest.
I won't lie. There was fear. And I struggled for the majority of all that fast, furious and unruly flow, trying to pin down what it was... exactly. Turns out it had nothing to do with the potential of spending 16-20 hours out there alone in a few weeks. Nope. And, it had nothing to do with the depth of the night. It had nothing to do with the rocks or the woods or the eyes flashing in my lights from somewhere deep in the chaotic and black forest. Nope.
Turns out I was simply afraid of riding this section, this night, backwards ... as in: we got ourselves out there, and it was a rollicking, mad hoot to do so. In my mind, and with what I could tell was an absolutely empty inner tank, I had to haul my butt, my pony, my lights, my pack, and my heavy brain back up that rodeo to get to camp. That scared me, because I knew I had less than nothing to give.
The good thing about this section is that in truth, it's not really that long. So, all I had to remember was: no matter what, I would make it back to camp, back to a nice cool shower in the dark, and into my fluffy, cozy sweet bed ... at some point.
I walked a lot of the steep (and not so steep) stuff. But I rode all the chunky stuff. That success alone lit a fire just big enough to get myself back to camp, out of my soaking wet riding clothes (apparently I was sweating like a horse), through the cool midnight shower, and into my pillowy clean bed.
Along the way the universe provided two additional gifts: I saw a baby owl on the trail. And I found my black feather off the side of the trail, settled in a mess of rocks and sticks. And then somewhere in the witching hours that night, as I lie lost in dreams, the coyotes started a mad, mad howl.
For those of you who know what I'm talking about, I hereby pronounce that Section 2 bears the name of: Midnight Rodeo. I also request that all who shall ride it the night of September 12th listen to Beck's, Black Tambourine while riding rowdy through the rocky sections.
I'm just sayin'.