Leaving the hut wasn’t hard, it was impossible, the food was outstanding, the company even better. Getting dropped back off at the trail, we started our hike, heavy from food and our uneaten resupply. The three of us were like zombies, dragging our feet with no energy in our limps to propel them forward. The food belly shuffle ,with packs, was slow going up the short gradual hill. This would be the high point for all of us that day, seeing two of our friends coming towards us. Chatting with them we talked about the hundred mile wilderness and the final mountain. It’s funny, no one ever just says the name of the mountain. It is always spoken half whispered, half labored. As if the sheer weight of the mountain, the journey, had to be lifted to say it. The entire culmination of expecctaions, experiences were summed up in one word, Katahdin.
Everyone that has flip flopped, finished, has told of the end, the hundred mile wilderness before. All these expectations and experiences have started to rent space in my mind. The end has started to weigh on my mind as well as the others. Fighting my thoughts and feelings of finishing and what it will be like to finish, have infected many aspects of my days and my hikes. I struggled with how to understand what I wanted and what might happen. I thought long on what I wanted for a finish. The most prevalent thought to return was what I would feel, when I finsihed. What if, when I finished, I felt nothing; I climbed the final 5 mile, straight up, rocky monumental mountain, reaching the summit sign and not a damn thing happened. No emotion, elation, joy, feelings of accomplishment, loss, success, any and all possibilities went unfelt.
I continued, lost in this thought, voicing only small bits to Earthling as we hiked on, eventually catching Flailing sitting by a lake equally lost in his thought. He was no longer the joyful man who ran past us while I was in my own head. He was far away, in the inner reaches of his mind. He too was lost this afternoon, for him home weighed heavily on him. Thousands of miles from home, in a foreign country, unable to talk in his own language, unable to have a conversation that didn’t require effort to speak, he was lost. The two of us sat and listened ax he spoke of what was bothering him. He to was thinking about the end, the end of this journey, the final climb. Each of us listened as we shared our thoughts and selves. The melancholy cloudy day provided the perfect atmosphere to lend to the serious talks. We sat there for the better part of an hour, on the sandy beach, talking of deep and emotional things.
Heading out we still had miles to do and I was in serious pain. My new shoes were crushing my feet and each step felt like I was walking with vices on. I traded comfort for traction and I was hurting. Earthling was having a sore day as well, she hurt from her trip over the Bigelow’s limped behind me. The roots wet terrain didn’t help either of us as my feet needed to balance on small stones and stones he had to stabilize her core. The last few miles for the day were some of the most painful on the whole trail for me. I was mentally worn down and the pain was physically wearing me down. Getting to the stoneshehelter that night I went to bed quickly and tried to sleep.