AT Day 53 – Maximum Couch

Zero day in Washington, DC
DC Couch Camp night #2
AT miles:
Total miles: still 1034.3
Elevation change: 1 flight of stairs

When Karishma and Didj picked me up from Harper’s Ferry yesterday I wasn’t sure if the off-trail interlude would extend for one night or for more. Their generous offer to host me for as long as I wanted was more dangerous and confusing to me than I think they realized. Of course, I wanted to stay for multiple days, a week even. Of course, that wasn’t going to happen. A different hiker might be able to chill out for an extended period of time like that, but I know myself. The same reasons I’ve been pushing myself out on the trail would drive me crazy if I sat around for too long. Each glimpse of blue sky through a window would have me feeling like I should be hiking, taking advantage of the favorable weather, working my way north. North, everything was about moving north.

However, as I came to life this morning, swaddled in a blanket on a comfy couch, feeling the residual aches in my soles, I knew that one more night in DC was the right move.  The physical recovery and mental recharge was just getting underway.  A full zero day would set me back in my quest for maintaining an arbitrary mileage average, but it would fill my cup in so many other ways. More important ways.  Besides, I hadn’t seen these cool folk in many moons.  We all deserved the opportunity to reconnect and catch up.

Didj got the morning started right, whipping up some dank tofu chilaquiles like a boss, while I moved from lying to sitting position on the couch, noodling on my phone, trying not to look at my messy pile of gear on the floor. As we lingered around our empty plates, I was grateful for natural ease with which the fulfilling conversation flowed from present to past. One of the beautiful things about old friends is their contextual understanding of how we have become who we are. The present is easier to understand when we can pick up the past, turning it over in our hands, examining it with new perspectives gained over the years. Our conversation swirled present, past, and future, all connected and overlapping like a tie dye of memories, questions, and dreams.

Working hard, trying to ignore that patch of blue sky.

The both of them left me alone to go help a friend move, and I used the few hours to get some computer work done. I looked past my feet, out the window at the quivering trees and scooting clouds. It was decent weather, but not nice enough to make me feel guilty about sitting inside. I ate a banana and spoonful of peanut butter to quiet my needy stomach.

Another pair all used up. Thank you, my good Timps.

When the others returned, a medium-length walk around the neighborhood confirmed that my legs still worked, even if they were a little stiff. It also provided an opportunity to test out my brand new shoes, Altra Olympus’s’s’s, which I hoped would treat my feet with the love they deserve and not cause too many new blisters. They are the cushiest of the Altra trail runners, as well as the most expensive, so I expect great things. I felt bad about unceremoniously dropping my trusty Timp’s in the garbage, but with almost 700 miles on them, they had outlived their expected lifespan, and I could be satisfied that they had nothing left to give. Now they would rot for millennia, surrounded by other garbage, in a landfill somewhere. Glorious.

It only took 14 generations, but Mars is now a habitable planet.

Karishma and Didj tag-teemed some excellent Indian daal, and we dug in as we played the board game Terraforming Mars. The expansive mission carried us from dinner to bedtime with engrossing ease, and I moved from sitting to lying on the couch wondering how I had possibly won a game that I understood so little about. Good advisers and blind luck. Feeling more rested and at ease than I had in a while, I got up and shuffled across the carpet to switch off the lights. North flashed in my mind as I lay back for good. The trail was there, not forgotten. The purpose it provided was comforting again, and I couldn’t help but look ahead at the smooth elevation profile, excited to take the next step.

This post was originally published on my blog Check it out for trip reports from my other hikes including the CDT and Sierra High Route.

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Comments 2

  • thetentman : Apr 18th

    Well even if you do not finish, you are still King of Mars. Congrats. Enjoy the rest.


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