I’ve been hiking for three weeks now, and nothing is as it seems. I thought the trip would be gruesomely hard and my feet would be rubbed raw and I might not even like whole stretches of the journey.
Today I looked down at my legs and found my calves were solid — hard chunks of bone and muscle that refused to move when pushed. Today I felt a burning sensation in my foot and then, walking it off (the only medical advice practical out here), it felt wonderful. My blister had popped, and the skin is now hard and ready to walk.
I love this trail. It has crawled into my bones and wedged itself sideways under my heart. I breathe its air and eat its dirt and drink its water. It feeds me and shows me the way. It shelters me and it shows me its wrath.
A friend who I often meet with in the mornings called me today and told me I sound good — as happy as a child. I told him, huffing up a hill before getting blown around by the afternoon wind, that I felt like a kid, as I get to play all of the time out here.
Today 20 miles felt regular, and my legs carried me faster than ever over the last few miles, hurried onward by the tales of my hobbit and his nasty adventures. It was another strange day, where man had crumpled traces all over the trail and there was a surprise lake, massive and cold, where I swam.
We got to a highway in the middle of nowhere today and walked along it by a huge dam like structure. My heart swelled with memories of Bike & Build and all the winding two lane roads I have wandered along. I saw the hot pavement and empty corridor and strange signs of humanity and lack of it too, and I felt home. The sweet smell of warming tar and crunch of unused pavement below my feet were sure signs of homecoming.