Days 33-39: So Long As You Can Breathe, You Can Keep Moving

The day following my last update, we did our first 20 mile day.

Me, Cheese, Achilles, and Moss fueling up for 20 miles

Honestly? It wasn’t half bad. I don’t have many (any) other pictures because it was raining most of the day, but it was incredible to feel strong enough to go the distance.

We stopped for lunch about 7 miles in, at a shelter that was the first to have what we’ve been referring to as Barbie Sh*thouses — privies so small that even I and my tiny body feel cramped. Privies so small that you can make eye contact with the whole camp while you do your business.

Uh… just dig a cathole. Trust me.

It only took us two days to get into Hot Springs from there.

20 Mile Moist Boys Squad at the Hot Springs!

And in those two days I found a new stress: someone I don’t like. It triggers me in a way that I’ve been used to feeling from people who constantly disrespected me back home. I felt more like a prop than a person, and it made me prickly. I used to love getting to camp after pushing a bunch of miles, but now the last mile was always filled with dread and I was irritated at camp and shut myself off to my friends to avoid social drama.

My hair was pink again and I had my makeup and town clothes sent from home!

I tried to plan Hot Springs around relaxing by not being around them. Which worked very well the second day. But the first night… Let’s just say I’m incredibly grateful for the tramily siblings I have who tried to talk me through my stresses and let me be upset without making me feel bad or stupid.

It’s less about the person and more about what I’m used to.

Normally, in situations where I don’t like someone, back home my friends made me feel like I had to just suck it up and deal. That someone constantly disrespecting me or treating me like a friend only when it was convenient for their being liked was my problem, and if I didn’t like someone then I was disrupting the status quo. It led to resentment building up and bubbling over — to a lot of autistic overwhelm. And those friends didn’t care that I had limits as long as their lives weren’t bothered by them.

Diner breakfast with Achilles and Stillwater (two of my faves)

And often, those friends chose to leave me behind because it was easier to be friends with someone who wasn’t overwhelmed. Same with my ex boyfriend.

I’m blessed out here to have friends who were able to reassure me that it’s okay to not like anyone, who told me not to let my light be dimmed by displeasure. To, as Achilles put it, reclaim my power and stand in it.

Your hero, at golden hour

So I did. But, I was still stressed from the lack of break from being so social all the time anyway.

So Achilles and I split from the group for a few days to reset.

We’re meeting back up with the tram fam in Erwin, but for now we’re enjoying some social palate cleansing.

We keep getting lucky enough to be surprised with Stache at our campsites — and we LOVE Stache. He and Cheese Plate feel like the big brothers I always wanted. They care and give good advice without feeding into gossip and bad vibes, from me as well.

Delaying ourselves by a day gives Cheese time to catch up with us, too — he had to stay behind for a package in Hot Springs and I’d be lying if I said having him around didn’t make me feel less stressed out. It feels wrong to not hike with Cheese.

It feels wrong to not camp with MOSS!!!

It’s the first time Moss and I have been apart since Springer.

Look at that handsome man!

I know he’s fine, and he knows I’m fine, but I was so relieved to get a text from him when we got to our stealth campsite saying that he missed me. I missed him so much. I can’t wait to see his perfect, beautiful, joyful, slightly confused all the time face.

But for now, Achilles and I are enjoying sunrises and sunsets and everything in between.

Achilles smells a hot dog before putting it on the grill at Laurel Hostel
Me, enjoying the hotdog Achilles smelled

OH yeah, before I forget —

We hit mile 300 the other day. During this:

Sunset at mile 300

We got to the shelter right before the incline that leads you there, and I was exhausted. We were carrying six days of food from Hot Springs — the stupidest move, spurred by Achilles and Moss trusting PrΩ and me trusting them — and every incline felt like hell.

I had been carrying my weight better before that. Achilles fixed my hipbelts on my Gregory Maven so that the weight would actually rest on my waist — something even the guy at REI couldn’t manage — and I got new shoes in Hot Springs (ones that fit, aren’t too big, and feel better on ascents). I barreled into the shelter with Stillwater, exclaiming to the guys that we are never doing that again unless absolutely necessary.

I wanted to stay there, I was so exhausted. But Achilles and I decided instead to dry out our tents and eat dinner there before climbing up to the next shelter. We knew we would end up nighthiking a bit, but we might just make it in time for sunset at mile 300.

And what a sunset it was.

So worth it. So awesome. So perfect.

This song from the musical episode of Greys Anatomy has been in my head all week.

Blame my girlfriend for having impeccable taste in television.

Girl, you’ve got me tripping on sunshine

God knows you just made my day

Since you came around, I just can’t slow down

Wanna see you walk in my way…

You got me running on sunshine

Ain’t no clouds getting in my way

I must be running on sunshine

Ain’t no rain getting in my way

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