There seems to be every logical reason for me not to hike. 10 forecast seems to be enough
Nov 17 Snow Shower / Wind 33°/19° 50 %
Nov 18 AM Snow Showers / Wind 25°/13° 30 %
Nov 19 Mostly Sunny 35°/21° 10 %
Nov 20 Mostly Cloudy 39°/19° 10 %
Nov 21 Rain / Snow Showers 36°/16° 30 %
Nov 22 Few Snow Showers 40°/19° 30 %
Nov 23 Partly Cloudy 38°/29° 20 %
Nov 24 Rain / Snow Showers 47°/24° 60 %
Nov 25 Mostly Sunny 46°/27° 20 %
Nov 26 Partly Cloudy 44°/26° 10 %
10 days... then it's Keyser WV for Thanksgiving, no matter what I do the next ten days. I ran Camelot yesterday; the stretch of trail between 220-Rte 11; my first steps of this thru hike. I feel weird even calling my journey a thru hike anymore, but.. for all intensive purposes you know what I mean. I crossed paths with Homer Witcher, a man who thru hiked with his wife and 2 young children years ago. We hugged. "I thought I was the only one crazy enough to be out here right now" he said. "Nah, I'm pretty crazy too" we laughed. We briefly talked about the trail "I've seen a bunch of southbounders out there, mostly guys. I can tell they're lonely. I think they'd quit at the drop of a dime if they could. You know I think sometimes it takes more courage to quit than to keep hiking" he said.
Yeah. So I surprisingly ran the whole stretch mp3 jammin out with Norah Jones, Damien Rice and other mellow beautiful songwriters. Those hills that caused me so much trouble during cross country and beyond seemed shorter, smaller, more forgiving. I thought about how they led me to Shenandoah, to Smart mountain, to Franconia Ridge, to Bemis Mountain, to Katahdin. By the time I turned to run back my mp3 picked upbeat songs... baby please don't go down to New Orleans well I love you so baby please don't go.
I don't want to hike in the cold. I don't want to hike in the dark. I don't want to hike alone. You work with what you are given. I want to hike. I want to walk the trail more than anything else right now, so I'll have to deal with the elements.
I can't explain this to you. I can't explain this to me.
Insight from my friends:
Birdbath-Don't think, just hike.
Hot Cheese-Everyone has a hardest part of their journey, something meant for only them; something they must confront and overcome, maybe this is mine. Maybe for some reason there are deep seeded parts of me that need to get through a season like this.
Bones-the thru-hiker is a master of adaptation, fierce as campfire embers,malleable as earth in a stream, cold but emotional, vulnerable,impervious to the elements...breathing air, allowing sunshine to reveal, darkness to obscure...a ghost, a wraith, a living, breathingbeing....
Low-I've hesitated to just come out and say "C'mon Bound, it's time to walk", but you know - at this point I feel like I wouldn't be a good friend if I didn't. THE TRAIL IS THERE FOR YOU - WAITING. And you are so clearly ready to go.
So go. And don't just go saying "I'm hoping to do some more VA miles". Go saying "I'm walking to Dville", or "I'm walking through the Smokies". Walk with conviction and destination. Walk so that the trail knows you are there.
New Hampshire is gone sister. Peace. Maine... gone... New England... history. What you have now is a life on the horizon - Almost Heaven, West Virginia. Almost Heaven, North to Montana. There is a trail that is leading you right up to all of those places, and it's just outside your door. "I don't think I leave the East until I finish this". Your words, not mine.
When I was in Erwin - I looked myself in the mirror and said "Low - Man the Fuck Up". I got back on trail the next day - so proud that I was able to give myself the tough love I needed - and also that I called myself by my trail name for the first time out loud in private.
Bound - Man the Fuck Up. Do what we both know you're going to do - which is walk. Stop fighting the trail - the current. Let go. Let the river take you. Let the mountains lead you.
THE REWARD IS WORTH IT.
Hasty-Don't forget to look up.
So it's back to Atkins for me, against all logical reason. If I don't freeze and lose my digits to frostbite I'll update again prob around thanksgiving.