This morning I woke up in the woods, greeted by the first few orange and pink rays of sunlight that had broken through the trees. With a groan, I sat up and slowly reached my arms above my head, then leaned slightly from one side to the other, simultaneously stretching my back, obliques, and triceps. I noticed that my feet were dirty with toe jam and sand, so I stuck them straight out and reeeeaaached to pick and brush all the gunk away while giving my hamstrings a good stretch. It took a few tries to loosen them enough that I could reach my toes, but damn did it feel nice once I could. A deep sigh of contentment released itself from my within my belly, and I silently wished that this moment could last forever. Surely this is the hardest part of my daily life as a thru-hiker: not the soreness, not the months of planning and replanning on the fly, or the looming anxiety of when I would next reach food and water… Those things come and go. The one challenge I face every day without exception is convincing myself to get up in the morning and pack all my gear into my bag so I can walk for hours on hours, just like I did yesterday. It never gets easier, but I always do it, and have not regretted it once, for when I do set off to complete the infinitesimally small fractions of my grand adventure that constitute one day’s worth of walking, I know I have made it that much closer to the end, to the glory, to the incredible self-fulfillment of living my thru-hiking dreams. The entire adventure, in time, becomes a blur of profound experiences with nature and people and changes every thru-hiker at their very core, but the stories they tell come from those tiny fractions- the individual days on the trail that will be remembered for a lifetime. There is no treasure as great as the memories made on an adventure, and no feeling as satisfying as fondly recalling the stories that make up those memories. So with some reluctance, but not an ounce of hesitation, I packed up camp, and pushed on for another long day on the road.
Miles walked today: 25.5 miles