I won’t even bother with a daily breakdown since my last update. Since leaving the hotel, I’ve walked a total of 16.7 miles…which will hopefully be around my daily average after not too much longer. The morning of my first full day back on the trail, I woke up to a downpour that, in the process of tearing my tent down, soaked everything in my pack. The rain brought in a new level of cold, so I was soaked and freezing while I walked. I only made it about nine miles that day…at one point I thought the title of my next post would be “Adventures in Hypothermia.” I spent the whole next day in a shelter, bundled in my sleeping bag while trying and failing to dry out my tent and clothes. (I wasn’t the only one doing that, which made the lack of progress slightly more acceptable.)
This morning, I climbed into cold, wet clothes, determined to make it at least 11 miles. It was still foggy and rainy, so I just decided to be miserable and keep walking.
I fell into pace with a guy from Michigan who’s pieced together the whole trail a couple of times over the years. We were making halting small talk when we caught our breath, and after a mile or so his advice and encouragement already had me forgetting that I had decided to be miserable. He started talking about the Blueberry Patch Hostel near the next road crossing, with its kind owners, warm bunks, rides into town and delicious breakfast.
I probably didn’t need much convincing, but the Michigan man assured me that it’s too soon to worry about pushing for more miles and too soon to stick with cold, wet gear when there’s an opportunity to dry them. I’ve started my hike early enough that it’s okay to take more down time than I had planned at this point.
So after only three and a half miles this morning, I’m sitting in a warm bunk with clean, dry clothes, surrounded by new friends I met at the shelter last night. My gear is drastically less muddy and almost totally dry, and the weather forecast is improving every day for the rest of the week. They say “No rain, no Maine,” so I’m glad that I at least got a couple of partial days of hiking in rain, and I’m optimistic about my capacity for hiking in rain once the chance of freezing to death decreases in a couple months.
After a full night of sleep, tomorrow will bring North Carolina and my first state completed. I’m really enjoying the people here right now, and it sounds like we have similar paces planned the next few days, so I’m looking forward to more time with them.
This post was going to be all about how terrible the last few days have been, but it’s hard to stay in a bad mood right now. I’m on the tail end of my first stretch of having to remind myself that, deep down inside somewhere, I actually chose this and want to be out here, and it’s good to know that there is another side to those moments. It’s good to feel such gratitude for simple things like dry clothes and a warm bed, too…I hope that feeling sticks with me.