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Section B - Day 4: Maybe it's going to be OK?

KM Hiked: 24. Territory: Blackfoot/NiitsItapi, Stoney, Tsuu T'ina, Ktunaxa.

I wake up feeling miraculously better. It doesn't seem possible, given what I've been putting my poor heel through, but it is definitely getting better. I am so relieved I could cry. The weather too is better. The clouds cleared overnight and the sky is crisp blue. I stumble out into an open meadow to find everything fringed in frost. Last night's drizzle frozen on the edge of everything. The little fronds of yarrow look like delicate lace. The grass leaves are tiny silver daggers. The clover flowers a frosted purple candy. Everything is dazzling and new. It seems like I've awoken in a new world. Maybe I can do this? I think to myself.

The day takes me along big wide windy ridges, the views are awesome. I'm still in tremendous pain and deeply exhausted and find it hard to muster all the awe that a well-rested me might feel. But I'm reminded of why I am putting myself through this.

At some point I cross the 50th parallel. That's one degree North down, four to go. It feels good to reach an invisible milestone. To know that all this pain and plodding is truly leading me northwards.

The trail takes me up and down and up and down all day. Climbs of 300-600 feet all damn day long. I stop by a bridge over a river for lunch and some other GDT hikers appear on the scene. It's been 4 days now since I've seen another human and I nearly have a heart attack when they appear. We chat for a while and I feel more grounded.

At the end of the day, I feel a bit of my old self creeping in again. I hike fast uphill, endorphins flowing and temporarily blotting out my pain. I'm above the treeline and the beauty is all around me again. I do a little dance on a ridge and devour more food.

That evening, I camp by a little lake in a big open area. The rock walls are so huge around me that my voice echoes back so clearly there might have been another me shouting back from the ridge-tops. The weather is finally clear at night and I cook and eat a hot dinner, unharried by rain and thunder. I am unreasonably grateful.

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