My Longest Day on Trail
Waking up in a cloud
it sounds all hunky-dory, except it’s not. Everybody cowboy camps, everybody… and they all want to tell you just how great it is to do so. I chose my first time giving into the idea terribly. I was “cowboying” near Three Points’ parking lot and bathrooms right after the Bedan-Powell fire closure. If you don’t know, cowboy camping is, essentially, you the ground, and the only things between them are a groundsheet, an air pad, and a sleeping bag. Super easy to pack up and go in the morning with the bonus factor of seeing the night sky with naked eyes.
The downside is…
when the sky decides to piss on you. This night, I would not call it rain, but a very dense mist filled the surrounding space, soaking everything I call home. Kitty and I both woke up around the same time, rushed to the bathrooms, and packed our bags with a little bit of shelter from the wet world.
I began hiking in the dark, something I rather do not enjoy. However, since I left camp wet and in a hurry, I missed some chores; brushing my teeth on the trail was now the move, and slamming a breakfast bar. Food is a lot less satisfying while you walk.
Sometime within the next hour, Kitty caught up for a few moments, nearly scaring me to death. I thought he was a predator, oops. Nothing of significance was said between us, so I hiked on.
Six hours later
I had hiked so quickly that I spent most of the morning in solitude, which I was unexcited about since I was feeling pretty social. I even took a break to dry out the remnants of the moist night. THEN trail magic hit! A super nice couple who hiked the Appalachian Trail two years ago set up trail magic; they knew exactly what hikers wanted. Cold beer, Gatorade, chocolate milk, and snacks; a few other hikers showed up, and we all got chatty.
Some hikers were hanging out at this trail magic that I had not met yet, so naturally, I introduced myself. Their response was somewhat sharp, “Oh, I know who you are.” Of course, they did not mean it with ill intent. However, more and more each time I heard it, I realized that this was my new normal. A trail of rumors and conversations with people who knew my situation, whether I wanted them to or not.
Today had a big impact on my hike.
A lot came out of today from start to finish, hence why it gets its very own blog post. I cowboyed for the first time, hiked hard, got trail magic for the first time in a while, AND beat my trail miles record! On the AT, my longest day was 32 miles into Damascus, and now it’s 33!
With the celebration in mind, it was also a tough day. I took a break with Kitty Titty, and it seemed so easy to be around him. But, ease made it more difficult to face the fact that he did not want to be with me. Today was also the first day that I realized that even though it was more difficult, I knew I didn’t need him; eventually, I would enjoy the solitude of singularity.
Although there was still the remaining fact, I am a scaredy-cat and hate night hiking. I wanted to push miles and beat my record, but I was intimidated by the idea of hiking after dark. So I asked him to hike with me at the end of the day. After the lunch break, we hiked separate paces and talked to other people throughout the day with the plan of meeting to hike later in the evening together. A few more miles and thoughts later, I caught up, and we started talking and walking till around nine.
Hiking alone gave me time to reflect.
In the reflection, the unflattering truth showed itself. In our time living together in Austin, I became dependent, unmotivated, and annoyed. We talked about Austin and the toxic environment we both set up for ourselves. Getting back into a relationship in his eyes (and somewhat mine) was off the table. There is too much to figure out for ourselves before jumping back in.
We said goodnight with a long, excruciatingly tense hug; neither of us knows if we should or would see each other again after tonight. Set up our separate tents eight miles away from Acton KOA without eating dinner and fell asleep in an instant.
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