My Naming Day Came During a Tough Stretch

My friends call me Stretch.

My naming day could not have come at a better time. The prior day (I think that was Sunday) was the first time I cried on trail. Frustrated and exhausted, it was just a long, bad day. The last quarter-mile up to the old cheese factory site was more than I could take. So I cried and swore at my achy feet, but kept walking. Uphill.

The next morning wasn’t going much better. I was interrupted by two other thru-hikers while banging my trekking poles against a tree and admonishing them for falling over, yet again. After I finished apologizing for my tantrum, I trudged up Tray Mountain still muttering curses at my clothes and shoes and gear. I proceeded like that until Nemo sauntered up behind me.

As he passed me we chatted a bit. I mentioned that I don’t have a trail name yet, he asked about how I was feeling, and I commented that mostly I was fine (excluding my feet) but probably because I spend all my down time stretching. I ended up showing him a few stretches to help with knee pain and when I peeled off to grab water he yelled, “See ya later, Stretch!” And just like that, I had a trail name. I dig it. Thanks, Nemo!

Week One on the Trail

I have been doing my best to go slow, I swear. But after the first two days of stopping at 2 p.m. and then sitting around, I got restless. I usually get a late start (10 a.m.) so my options are often to either stop in the early afternoon after five miles or walk another six to eight and set up camp just before sunset. I seem to keep choosing the latter. I’m taking a nero day today, though. I ran a few errands in town, soaked in a tub and scrubbed off all the grime that’s accumulated over the last few days, did some laundry, drank some wine, and chowed down on a glorious quarter-pounder and fries from McDonald’s.

My days haven’t all been this blissful, though. They’ve been rainy and subfreezing. My tent leaked during a heavy storm. I didn’t bring the right attachment for my water filter and last night it froze so I had to buy a new one today anyway. I miss my husband and my friends and even the dog. But today is a good day, so tomorrow I will soldier on. But maybe just a short day—for real this time.

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