Week 22: I might be hungry
Ever had a meal that tasted so good you wanted to savor it, then after a bit you were full enough that eating was uncomfortable, but you kept eating anyways because it was so good? You keep going, alternating between the pleasure of a great meal and the misery of being over stuffed.
That’s pretty much been my experience of the Trail for the last week. I love every minute I’m out here, except for the minutes I don’t. I love the moments that I can go to sleep laying out on the ground, staring up through the trees to the stars, I love the mornings I wake up to a foggy woods, deer sneaking in and out of my line of sight.
Then there’s the feeling of being covered in rashes from poison ivy, or eaten alive by every biting insect found in the eastern United States. Pervasive hunger that leaves me longing for a Chinese buffet. The feeling in the morning when I stand up and can barely walk because of the pain in my feet. The fingers in my left hand that have gone numb and can’t seem to get feeling back. (I’m guessing I pinched a nerve somewhere) But despite these things, I push through because I’m savoring the meal.
I finished off the Shenandoahs enjoying the rather gentle hiking. I ran into a group from Georgetown University that was out hiking the AT for freshmen orientation. I was thrilled to see so many out partaking in the environment, but even more so to hear their passions about making the world a better place in their plans for the future. I’ve also started to run into SOBOS who are feeling the thrill of being past their halfway point. The combination of positive energy definitely made up for the fact that finding a campsite has gotten harder with the crowds.
I did enjoy one night of camping alone before I left the park. I found an unofficial tent site just a little ways off the Trail. Park regulations required that tents be a certain distance from a variety of items, so I’d generally stuck to the official spots, but this one was special. It fit all the right parameters, and for a bonus was next to a small cliff. I spent the entire evening sitting in my tent and looking out at the sky. I watched the sunset and the stars come out, and I swear I felt my soul floating the entire time.
After the Shenandoahs, I went into Front Royal where I spoiled myself with some fried chicken and WiFi, then hiked up to the Jim and Molly Denton Shelter for the blessed solar shower there. One of the nicest shelter amenities I’ve seen, so thanks for that PATC.
Since Front Royal, I’ve been cruising along, my daily average has been increased to 13-15 miles a day, which considering I struggled with 3 miles a day back when I started in Georgia has me feeling more than a little proud. Then I got to Bears Den where I met a hiker who’s planning to do 50+ miles today. Proof that I can be proud of myself, but the universe will always make sure to keep my ego in check.
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