My eyes that did not want to open today, but my lack of midnight bathroom breaks meant I had to get up shortly after waking. Had a solitary breakfast in the wind at the picnic table while everyone else slept in their tents. I was looking forward to a short day, but halfway and I realized separately this morning that we didn’t account for about a 15 mile section in our planning, so today actually needs to be more like 13 miles instead of 7.5.
My legs were heavy as I walked up the road back to the trail. There was a very long hill with a partial view of the neighboring ridge in the sunlight off to my left. I thought for sure I’d been climbing for like a mile, but the map program told me I had gone a measly half mile. Slow going.
At the top of the ridge, the terrain flattened out into a soft and forgiving walk. I felt really aware of my boxy, contained movements. My limbs felt rigid. I decided to breathe and focus on loosening up as I breathed out. This had the secondary effect of dislodging emotional constriction and the feeling of being on guard against the world. I started thinking about the possibility of not having to do that as much and the sadness of having already done it for so long. Enter today’s tears. They didn’t last long because it really is hard to avoid stumbling with you your eyes full of tears. I went back to my surroundings and noticed the sway of the trees in the wind and the strobe like sunlight coming through the leaves enough to heat up my still cold hands. I don’t think I always mention it, but I cry nearly every day. Just a little bit. Sometimes it’s because i feel loved and grateful. Sometimes I feel like a destructive monster who shouldn’t be allowed to interact with people. Sometimes I just want a hug. The list goes on and the feet go one in front of the other.
There were a lot of boulder hopping sections today and a lot of shit kicker foot stabbing rocky sections. I ate lunch at an overlook that was a gigantic pain to get to, and I should have skipped it. The view was mediocre, and it involved a lot of giant pointy rocks to get there from the trail. I walked with chrissy for a couple of hours in the afternoon. We talked about our respective mean voices and she talked about her counselor at home.
The rocks finally abated after passing Allentown hiking club shelter. The rest of the group was ahead of us from lunch onward and there was some question as to how far we might go. It felt like a shit show at one point because I wasn’t sure what to do about water (stockpile for a campsite with no water? count on going all the way to our discussed destination where there would be water?) and chrissy took a wrong turn because she was fooled by some bogus blazes. It felt somewhat chaotic for like an hour, so I decided on a backup spot to camp and a backup water plan and kept on walking. by that point the terrain had transitioned to a wide road-like trail, which felt so good on my sore feet.
Not long after I helped chrissy figure out that she’d taken a wrong turn, I found out via text that the guys in our group were at the route 309 road crossing getting trail magic with don! I was about a mile south of there, so I tried to walk “faster” in the hopes of getting extra snacks and seeing don again. There’s no real kicking up the pace at that point in the day, but I made decent time and got to hang out with don for a little while.
He had a range of meat and cheese and desserts from his favorite bakery (momma c’s). I asked him questions about his life and how he spends his time. Then chrissy showed up and we ate dessert together before setting off for the last 1.8 miles of another long day.
Thankfully the trail didn’t get much rockier than any other point in the day. My feet were sore at that point, but my shin held up really well today. I saw 56 lady slippers today. Unbelievable. There were clusters of up to 14 at a time. also saw a new little yellow flower.
And the sunset! Because we camped at Tripoli campsite (not all the way in the bottom thankfully), which is just north of power lines. Now I’m listening to trees in the wind, a bug thwacking against the side of my tent, and angel snoring. Our tents are all up close and personal because the site is kind of small. Time to massage my feet and calves and go to sleep.
Mile 1232.6 to mile 1246.0 (13.4)
Total miles: 242.8
Creature feature: do rocks count? because I was looking at my feet almost the whole day. I did see a blue bird of some sort (bunting maybe?) but it was a lean day in the way of observations. Oh and I saw a garter snake that chrissy ran into. She was walking ahead of me and all of a sudden she started whooping. I thought maybe she’d seen a bear but she was trying to scare a snake away from her.
Im really loving your honesty…and the photographs! I look forward to your posts every day. Keep em coming! (My feet hurt just looking at those rocky pictures!)
it’s a beautiful and hard thing to be on the trail after all you’ve been through…i’d be worried if you weren’t crying. be kind to yourself, and know paco and i are cheering you on every step of the way!