Waking up at he shelter we left again early, well as early as we could. I had been having trouble sleeping with my impinged nerve in my shoulders and rest alluded me even under the best conditions. We had three big peaks to climb before hitting the dreaded mile for me. Flailing and I took off after her like usual. The rocky climbs up proved to be what we had heard about all along. Straight up except for our very own switchback to welcome us into Maine. Probable the only one we’d encounter but I relished in it.
The sweet trail did not last long before we were climbing up exposed rock and roots. The trail got gnarly and it stayed that way. All the way up the first hill to our first view. The map showed a small up and down from where we were but the view proved to be the opposite. From where we stood we could see a huge climb ahead of us that had no turns, just straight up. Flailing and I agreeing on the inaccuracy of the guide set out again, with Earthling no where in sight.
Our climb up the first peak went well, the two of us talked and supported each other on the way up. We talked of Bill and Amy and thought about how proud they would be of us. Reaching the first summit we could see the days terrain laid out for us. Splendid views and some peaks were all around. If the weather stayed nice we would have a good day, at least till I hit the boulder crawl mile. Looking at the other peak we saw Earthling waiting for us and waved, she waved back and we summited and took photos. Pressing on to catch up with her we pushed over the second peak and down into the shallow area before the third. The ground was filled with bogs and moss, the evidence of missteps were everywhere. Hikers from before had plunged knee deep into the mud and tried my hardest not to make the same mistake. Flailing on the other hand did in fact make the same mistake. Laughing for a moment we pushed down the mountain to the mile of dread as I called it.
This mile of bouldering was my biggest fear. For someone who hasn’t had much experience with that world of irrational thought I felt hesitant and tense. As we started the mile the others quickly flew past me as they enjoyed the climbs and adrenaline. i was paralyzed by one thought, not death, not broken arms, my only thought was slipping and falling five to fifteen feet and breaking my ankle again. I spent almost 8 weeks confined to a chair, unable to bathe myself, cook or anything and that was all I thought of. To make matters worse my shoes didn’t grip at all. The company that makes them has been very good to me, in replacing them as they wore out. Yet the traction was something I knew I couldn’t count on. Pushing through my fear I climbed over the giant boulders, summoning the only force I could use to push me, anger. I got mad at the rocks, as I leapt from slick rock over drops to another.
I pushed my self as hard as I could, 1900 miles and I wasn’t about to stop now. I had no idea how to push through my emotions other than getting angry and that made me more angry. I wasn’t enjoying the mile, I was terrified and I had only one option, to push straight through it. there was no support, no encouragement, just me. In my darkest hour, I picked my self up and drove on through the hellish mile. I was so angry that I did not stop once i exited the boulders. I pushed right on up the next section of the trail. Before I could register a thought, my shorts got became caught on a tree branch and ripped, only sending me over the edge. I was on fire as i ran up the mountain.
The next two miles of gradual terrain fell underneath my feet. I passed friends with little words and pushed up the mountain. The only thing that slowed me was the 1000-1500 ft of sheer rock straight up. My calves burned as I drove my feet into the rock. Each step gaining more vertical than horizontal distance. If the mist picked up into a rain I could be in deep trouble. the slick rock would not support my weight in these shoes. These god awful boots that had lubrication for friction. I was tired and thirsty, the impending rain helped to fuel my anger as i climbed the rest of the mountain to the lake.
Reaching the lake I tossed my gear aside and went for fresh water. I needed to calm down, i was so unsure how to handle being afraid that I needed to compose myself. Eating a double dinner I spoke to another vet about my day, confiding in them about how I felt. Then the distractions would come, friends and stories of the trail. Girl scout showed up and we caught up over the evening as I made my bed in the shelter. Sleep again would allude me as my hands felt like fire and numbness came and went throughout the night.