May Rose, from our Bike & Build trip, is the most positive, charming person I know. She sang a song often: “I’m alive, awake, aware, enthusiastic.” She sang and smiled and clapped and everyone on the trip loved it.
I was a grouch in the mornings and whenever people needed cheering up, and the song drove me nuts!
So nuts that for my birthday, which was on the trip, she teamed up with everyone and gave me a quiet morning. I was happy, and it disturbed me how much joy I derived from not hearing people having fun.
Rainbow Dash just sang that very song, and told me that when she needed cheering up on the Appalachian Trail (which she thru hiked in 2012), she sang it with her hiking partner and changed the last words:
“I’m alive, awake, aware, wearing plastic” (when in rain gear).
I laughed and told her my experience with that song.
“Now you sound like Eeyore!” She snorted.
We both felt a bit like him today.
We were up early (Rainbow wakes me up around 5 every morning so we can hike by 6am), and trotting along through a valley to McDonald’s for breakfast. I know, I would have shuddered at that sentence too if I were in the comfort of my home in the middle of a city with fresh veggies in my fridge. (Salad! How I would eat thee!)
We got there, and I ate a deluxe breakfast, which would have been a lot for a non hiker, but I scarfed it down and was ready for more in record time. I had coffee (real coffee! With fake sugar and cream!) for the first time in three long days. We filled up all our water bottles (6.5 liters for the 27 mile dry stretch), visited the gas station for snacks (I brought 6 days of food, but have eaten everything but potatoes and dry pasta in 4 days), and had a long sit in a clean chair inside.
And then the trail took us through a highway underpass and through a waterway under the train tracks and over the tracks and over a dirt road getting fixed by many men in yellow vests with many blinking trucks. The trains thrilled me, noisily tooting their horns as they passed through this section.
And then we climbed and climbed and climbed. My left foot felt weird and numbish and my right foot, with the blister that happily popped yesterday, got a sister blister. The grass stuck to my tights and poked my butt every step. I was hungry. I ate more McDonald’s and my tummy hurt.
I had a strong case of the I Don’t Wanna’s.
At lunch we flopped down in an inlet of the mountain that was protected from the wind. We kept meaning to move on, but then we laid back in the dirt and soaked up the sun and warmth. It was glorious.
And then, as the guide book predicted, poodle dog bush sprang into action. I couldn’t talk or think about anything else, because then I would forget to watch out and walk into the poisonous stuff.
“Poodle dog, poodle dog, poodle dog bush.” I changed to myself.
We climbed and I poodle dogged until we sat down on the trail (the only safe place) and watched the cars climb up an impossibly steep, impossibly flat highway in the valley far, far below — where we were a few hours ago. We got to know a hiker named Andy, who I decided I liked when I saw his face. The trees were dead from a fire and the poodle was everywhere and we were tired and the trail was steep and night was falling and rain was coming.
And finally we found a camp, a mile earlier than we were hoping, and we ate and placed our things all around us, and I wrapped my tyvec groundsheet around my head to protect me from the possible rain.
“Pine Nut?” Rainbow Dash asked.
“We walked for more than 8 hours today.”
“So we won?”
“We won for the home team! And it was hard today — that’s why it felt so hard.”
And today was a hardy but goody (now that I am safely burritoed in my bivvy).