I slept in till 7am, used my Buff to cover my eyes well after the sun had risen. I went to bed before it set and rose after it was above the horizon. For the first time on the trip I dreamed. I actually dreamed. I put myself in a place other than on this brutal trail that was challenging me at every turn and I was happy. But when I woke up, with the sun rising and the air warm, I was actually elated to still be out here. Time to get back and rein in the deficit that I accumulated yesterday. I started packing up my stuff and realized I probably didn’t have enough food to get me to my next resupply. It was over 20 miles away and I was supposed to be there, or at least close, last night. I was kicking myself but there was a farm stand just a few miles down the trail.
I made it to the farm stand 30 minutes before they opened and took off my shoes and relaxed in the sun. It was the first opportunity to really dry my gear out for the last few days so I took advantage of it. My shoes were soaked and my feet were starting to stick out the sides but I would be replacing my shoes by the end of the day. I plugged my phone into an outlet on the outside of the building and laid down for a quick nap. The owner soon arrived and I bought a strawberry rhubarb pie, a pint of ice cream, a banana, a few Snickers bars, and a Snapple. I sat out in the sun and enjoyed the warm homemade pie and the cool ice cream and then got back on the trail after my hour long pit stop.
The first few miles of every morning of my Appalachian Trail unsupported record attempt so far were always tough, so I didn’t think anything of it when I was having a tough time getting going this morning. After getting a great night’s sleep and the short day yesterday, my legs certainly could have felt better. But it wasn’t worrying me just yet.
But when the fatigue and exhaustion continued well into the afternoon I was starting to get a little frustrated. My legs weren’t moving and I knew another 20 mile day would set me back tremendously from the 40 mile per day average I needed to maintain.
So when I arrived at my resupply at Kent Pond in the evening, little over 20 miles hiked so far for the day, I was pretty upset and frustrated. I dreamed of a shower all day, my new shoes, a meal, and maybe even a bed. The lodge where I had mailed my resupply was closed with the owner out climbing Mt. Rainier for the week. He left the packages on the porch and told hikers to help themselves to the spigot and the outlets. I unpacked my stuff and ate 10 packs of fruit snacks and changed out my shoes. It was then that I realized exactly how much heavier the old water logged shoes I had picked up in the hiker box in Gorham were than my shoes. That couldn’t be helping.
I was exhausted and angry and sad and scared that the record was slipping away. I didn’t want to be out here anymore but I wasn’t ready to give up. I would keep doing this until I couldn’t walk anymore. That was the promise I had originally made, so I was sticking to it.
I looked up other hotels in the area and found that the town of Killington, Vermont was just a short side trail away. I packed up my belongings and began working my way over there. I called my mom on the way and vented. I kept my composure but emphasized my exhaustion. I imagine it’s probably pretty tough to understand what I’m going through because I’m better at laughing than crying. But sometimes the laughter is just as bad a sign. I giggled about the mosquitoes swarming me, about the pitiful mileage I had hiked, about the agony in my right shin, the tendinitis that was persisting. It wasn’t funny, not any bit of it. But the hysterics were how I was handling it.
I made it to a convenience store just before they closed and they let me run around their aisles really quick before locking up. I grabbed everything I could, a box of pop tarts, a pint of Ben & Jerry’s, a half gallon of orange juice, a box of oreos, a dozen candy bars. I figured I didn’t know what was going on, but eating a village size meal tonight certainly couldn’t make anything any worse. When I set it all on the counter they rang me up and then offered me all their leftover donuts and pastries from the day. Then the owner came and dropped a huge container of Shepard’s pie on the counter and said “Here ya go sweetie,” and walked away. I’ve been a vegetarian most of my life but I was desperate and not about to turn down more food.
I walked over to the Greenbrier Inn, Killington right across the street to check in, arms loaded with two stuffed paper bags full of groceries. It was without a doubt a week’s worth of food and intended to eat it all by tomorrow morning. The Innkeeper was a welcoming and hospitable older man who helped carry my stuff to my room. It was well before sunset and I had tasks to take care of. First off, I needed to decontaminate. The last shower I had was over a week ago. My skin ached from the grime and oils accumulated. I washed my clothes in the sink with a bar of soap. Brown, foggy water spilled from my shirt and shorts from the dried sweat and dirt from my midday catnaps on the bare ground.
Once clean I curled up under the sheets and got on my facebook and twitter to see what was going on in the world I had left behind. I felt bummed to have dropped another disappointing day and I really felt like I was letting my friends and family and myself down. I needed to get back out there and get on pace. I knew I could do this; I just needed to figure out why the fatigue hit me so hard over the last couple days and fix it. Whether I needed more sleep, more food, more stretching, whatever the case I was going to do it and see if I got better. I turned on some trashy television and enjoyed the Shepard’s Pie and mint cookie ice cream before dozing off.