Maybe I forgot how we struggled in the beginning in Georgia and North Carolina, but I feel today was our toughest day on the trail. We did 33km and it was hot and the terrain was tough.
This morning we had a few more km of what we ended off with last night:
It’s basically a ridge of rocks you walk across, and they are the size of cars: some VW Beatles, others big SUVs like a Hummer. It’s not difficult but it is exhausting as you are engaging your up- and down- muscles all the way.
After that we had several (I can’t recall, maybe 4 or 5) big rock piles to climb up – Trevor is on the photo so you can see the scale, the route always take you OVER THE TOP, never around the rock piles.
We are currently walking where water is scarce, the few springs and streams are mostly dry. Luckily the trail angels put water at several trail heads:
We also had a lady pulling off the road where the trail was crossing over to give us each an ice lolly – it was 8am and she said she knows we will need it more later when it’s hot, but to have it anyway.
On the trail we met Stretch (and later also her friend Sure Footed) – they thru-hiked in the 90’s and are doing a few-day section hike. Stretch asked whether we needed any Cliff Bars (I promise to write a blog on bars soon) as she over packed on food. We have food left for every meal but I wasn’t going to decline calories offered – my energy levels didn’t feel high. I gobbled up the gifted bar while we were chatting to her. She, like so many thru-hikers from years ago, take no credit for the fact that it must have been tougher in those days….they all basically say same distance, same route (roughly), same challenge.
Our last gift of the day was from Strider 60:
We were starting to run a bit low on water (and you will remember from an earlier post how bad Trevor reacts to dehydration) and we have been through 3 points (the last one just then) where bottles of water were left but were emptied by hikers ahead of us. Strider 60 was getting out of a car talking to the driver; he was clearly going to set off on a little hike. Desperate time desperate measures: I asked him if he by chance has extra water. He said “indeed I do” and pulled out a shopping bag with a gallon (almost 4 liters) of ice cold (just bought) water. I couldn’t help myself I felt my eyes watering up…I thanked him and walked back to Trevor.
We had some of the beautiful cold water and filled our water bottles. Strider 60 (called that as he started hiking when he turned 60, he is now 78 though he looks much younger) came walking towards us as the car he got out of drove away. He brought us another gallon! Now we could really rehydrate fully, and fill up 5.5litres between us to carry for afternoon and night (remember we also need water to cook).
Strider 60 (whose doctor is a South African) has section hiked (over the years) from Georgia to here (New York). He is now doing a 2 week section, his brother is with him (the driver of the car) and supports him. The brother meets him at road intersections with water/food/cold drinks. And at night they stay in the parking lots close to the trail (many roads have small parking lots where people doing hikes can leave their cars), the brother sleeps in the car and Strider 60 pitches his tent. He says it is a great bonding time for the two of them. Nice hey. Boet….. Am I going to support you or the other way round?
One of my friends (Fiona) commented on a post by quoting from The Book of Joy by Dalai Lama and our beloved Desmond Tutu (who I was fortunate enough to meet briefly). I know my friend Elma has also read and talked about the book. It is definitely a book I should buy (a hard copy) and read.
Fiona’s comment refer to HAPPINESS depending on external factors, and JOY being a state of mind. It is a wonderful way of thinking about it.
On any hiking day there are Happy times and Damn Unhappy times. Today, because it was so tough (made worse by the heat and my very unhappy toes), there were more Unhappy times than Happy times. But I can honestly say that my Joy has increased over the course of three months (we have been on the trail 3 months today). I suppose that says a lot about my state of mind….