The last few days have found me wrapped up in The Hunger Games. I started listening to them recently, and (after non stop audiobooking while hiking) just finished them today.
The books took a turn for the menacing and eerie during the last few hours, and now I find myself alone in the woods. I am afraid of the twigs snapping around me, the lack of boulders to keep my back to in a last ditch fight.
Last night, camping with four others, there was some kind of large animal that sniffed around camp for three hours in the middle of the night. I woke a few times to hear noise around me, and then again at 2am to a flashlight in my eyes. One of the guys was searching for the culprit, who was lurking near me.
And tonight, with the blood of the Capitol on my mind and the crunch of creatures in my ears, I am all a tremble. But I am tired as well, having taken on 27 miles and a few thousand feet of elevation, so I know I will sleep anyways.
My feet ached today, and I felt like I was dragging myself forward in a dream this afternoon. It was so different than the joy I experienced this morning, encountering two doses of trail magic in one mile.
The first was a huge, homegrown grapefruit from a group of mounted trail volunteers. Strapped to one horse were two chainsaws.
“Hey pigtails,” yelled one, “eat that grapefruit!”
And I did, and I liked it (the first grapefruit I have ever liked in my life).
I flopped along the trail, my two blue buns bouncing atop my head, only to meet a trail angel named Piper’s Mom half a mile down the trail. She let me sign her trail register, gave me food and drink, and took my picture. Right before she got in the car to run a fellow hiker into town, she came back and gave me a hug.
“I bet it had been a while since you had a mom’s hug,” she said.
I had to swallow the tears, because it has, and it felt so good.
The heat of the scorching sun sucked the energy out of me and the pain in my feet drained the fight out of me. I felt dizzy. When a hot blister started burning on my pinky toe, it was all I could do to keep it together.
I kept checking my maps, becoming more and more dismayed by my progress. Would I ever make it to town?
I finally gave up, surrendering two miles earlier than planned for dinner. I called my parents while my couscous cooked. I was depressed, hungry, tired, and hurting.
They congratulated me on the halfway mark, and my dad asked me what I thought about the rest. I didn’t pause before I said I’d do it, but my insides flipped. I don’t have to do it, a small voice said inside me.
But then I was off the phone, full, and ready to press on. My feet felt great again after the hour’s rest. I bounced along the trail.
I came to a campground with pit toilets, trash cans, and running water. It was heaven. I used all of the facilities, and ran along up the trail.
Less than a mile from my targeted mileage I found a relatively flat spot and flopped down as the last of the light faded from the sky. I am home, and telling you all about my day has taken nearly all of the fear from me.
How lucky I am to have you to listen!