The downs are as hard as the ups. Trudging up these eternal inclines, my lungs shout at me. Going down, my left knee which has an old derby injury, makes it’s complaints known. All the while my feet bark at me. People talk about getting your Trail Legs like it’s a magical event. ***Like you wake up one day and the Trail Fairy has been by to drop off your legs. If it was only that easy.
When I get to the top there are these stretches of flat straight aways that are surrounded by pine and cedar. The path is soft as Berber carpet from the previous years leaves and needles. Up there the smell of trees is undiluted and I swear there was some cardamom nearby because I kept smelling winter drinks. These are my favorite parts of the trail. With the mountain ridges in the distance, it feels like you are in the clouds.
So there I am huffing the air like it’s going out of style and come around a corner to see two black bear cubs! We all stop for a moment and then one of them makes an Aaaack! noise like those Martians from Mars Attacks. They both take off down the hill like rockets and I make steps to get out the area in case Mama Bear takes offense. The adrenaline made that pretty easy. I can just see the cubs going back to Mama being all “We were just enjoying the pine smells and this stinky human had to come and ruin it! ”
It rained all day yesterday and my feet are still soaked. Even though the day is mostly dry, my feet have swollen up and stayed damp. This in turn has created a very painful situation that make it fell like I’m walking on razor blades. Appropriately Annie Lenox’ s “Walking on broken glass” popped up in my head radio and would not shut up! My brain thinks it’s being funny.
My feet started hurting so bad I stopped early at a shelter while the rest of my trail family pushed on to a further campsite. I’m sitting there, mercifully off my feet and feeling pretty crappy that I can’t keep up when loud clanking comes from the trail. Wok (the guy who fed us at Neel’ s gap because it was his birthday) shows up with a full sized grill strapped to his back. He brought hot dogs, burgers, and beer to the shelter.
I perked up quickly after that! Haha! Who’s the sad sack now? I’ve got hot dogs! He also started a fire and the little shelter group sat around and ate and talked. That’s another nice thing about the trail: there is rarely cell service at the shelters. So everyone actually talks to each other.
*** Clarification: I stole this from Uncle Tiger and he wants me to let you know that. I REGRET NOTHING.