There’s no place to hide

This first week on trail has been tough. My mind is telling my body it can do more, even though it doesn’t feel up to it. This is the problem with having done two of these types of long-distance hikes before: I’m only remember how much I was capable of at the end of the last six-month hike, when I was a hiking machine, pushing thirty mile days for fun.

Fast-forward to now, walking through the arid New Mexican desert, carrying five litres of water from one murky cow pond to last me until I find another cattle trough or muddy puddle to collect drinking water from. All under the blistering heat of the searing sun.

Do you remember that level in Super Mario 3, where the sun is trying to kill you? Today feels like that.

If it’s not the sun, it’s the wind. The wide open expanse has little to no roadblocks to slow down the force of the gusts as they pick up, carry, and eventually blast trillions of grains sand and grit at me from every angle.

                        No water here

Everything here is trying to protect itself. And the best kind of defence is offence. Everything has thorns, horns, or spikes. A slight mistep results in scratches on your legs that resemble an altercation with a pack of angry feral cats.

My body is doing its best to adapt to the demands of constant hiking from the less strenuous lifestyle I led for the past few months to what is needed to hike over mountains and through deserts all day, every day. But, it’s not there yet. I have no appetite. I’m choking my breakfast down, skipping lunch, and eating only half of my ration for dinner. Due to this, I feel tired and lethargic most of the day. My body aches, chafes, and is plastered with dirt. My legs are scratched up and down from thorns and cactus spikes, my lips are chapped and cracked from the wind and sun exposure, and my muscles ache from the adjustments they are having to make in order to become strong enough to keep up this regime.

                       Mmm, delicious…

It sounds terrible. So why would anyone do this to themselves? Because I know what lies at the end of the adjustment period. Once my body adapts and I’m back to the level of strength and speed I was before. I have been through this hell on each of my long-distance hikes. It goes away, and afterwards, I feel fast and powerful – capable of walking through anything.

Most of all, I know the feeling of pride, jubilation, and relief that comes from completing a hike that took six months over thousands of miles. I was thinking about the most important thing someone would need to complete a huge physical and logistical challenge like this.

Perseverance. As long as I don’t give up, I’ll find myself at the end at some point in time.

                     Reaching Mile 100

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