So what happens when you are a little touched because you have hiked for over four months? It could be that your hiking partner asks that you hike a 40 mile day. Or it could be that you agree to try. Or it could be that you feel awful with a cold, but start in on it. Or it could be that you do it.
My body is amazing. I am actually awestruck by what it does, by how much it give me, by how strong it is. It feels so much pain and discomfort, and yet it continues along because I ask it to.
Sometimes I feel like I am not connected to my body, like it is some kind of weird robot thing that I just control. But that isn’t true. We are the same person, we are connected. And yet, I can’t say that I am awestruck by myself, even though my body is me. But here I am, maybe that awe will come one day.
40 miles is no different than any other number of miles, except it is when you hit your wall. I hit mine at 4pm. I had woken up with a sore throat. By 4pm my neck had completely seized. I could not move my head from side to side, I needed to keep it on straight at all times. My feet hurt, my throat was killing me, and my neck was a ball of hate.
Felix had passed me, and I felt like I was falling further and further behind. I was lonely and scared. What if I made myself sick like that time on Bike & Build? I was in the van for a full three days after pushing myself too far, neck seizing too hard to check for cars behind me when turning.
There was a choice: I could stop at the next water source or continue for an incredible 14 more miles. It seemed impossible.
I called Boomerang and started hysterically crying. I sobbed into the phone, “and my neck won’t move!”
Right then, snot and tears streaming down my nasty face, I saw two hikers eating a snack on a downed tree. I made eye contact with one of them (a southbounder) and did not care. I kept crying and kept telling B all of my issues. I was miserable and for the first time on trail, I didn’t feel the need to save face.
The drama came to a head where the water was supposed to be — I had hiked two of the most painful miles of my life (mentally) to get to this water. I was going to eat dinner and talk with Felix about what to do, and everything would be okay. But the water wasn’t where it was supposed to be, and the guys who were sitting at the junction told me Felix had continued along.
My brain broke. I started up my wailing crying again, so so so hurt that my hiking buddy would leave me behind. I imagined Felix happily skipping up the trail, not caring about my deep despair.
I called Boomerang again and decided to go the infinitely long mile to the next water source and eat there. I hung up and limped along, feeling so sorry for myself. But then there was a road in 0.4 and I sat down in the dry dusty dirt and took every food item out of my bag. I had to eat. Things were destroyed because I hadn’t eaten.
As I was throwing stuff into my pot Felix came up. She hadn’t left me after all. And, even better (because misery loves company), she was sad too. She was as hangry as I was.
We ate and lounged in the dirt. Then a giant truck came to cover us with dirt. I glared at it until it came to a halt beside us. A man jumped out and gave us a big bag of ice and two completely frozen bottles of water. He was my angel, the angel that was my sign to keep moving.
Hours and hours later (at 11pm) we stumbled into Boomerang’s camp. We had come 40 miles.
40 miles isn’t too bad.