I put in 17 miles today, 17 long and painful Vermont miles. Whoever assembled Vermont had a sadistic streak but it was either walk 17 today in the sunshine or 15 tomorrow in the freezing rain.
Today’s 10 miles seemed as rough as yesterday’s 17. I was so tired by that time I saw a phantom shelter. When my hiking partner, Mountain Goat, said it was only trees I got all indignant and told her it was right in front of us. Oh boy. We started out at 8:00 in a drizzle and ended up climbing over Stratton Mountain in pouring rain, 50 degree temperature and sustained winds of 50-60mph. I tried to climb the fire tower at the summit but got one story from the top and had to turn around because it was swaying in the wind so badly. I took a header on the way down, busted up my forearm and knee, and was stuck on my back trying to get up like the kid in CHRISTMAS STORY who falls in his massive snow suit and can't get up. My head started to spiral at that point but good or bad mood you do the same thing, you take another step. Arriving at the shelter was like visiting Mecca. Please look at the pictures of Stratton pond in the link I put up. It had 8 bunks, a platform for a couple, a huge loft and a picnic table that was inside out if the rain. We changed, immodestly, out of our wet clothes and I was actually giddy in my dry foresee pants, dry socks, 2 shirts and down jacket. There were 5 of us in the shelter and we hung clotheslines to "dry" our clothes, ate dinner and I attempted to sleep. I've slept about 8-9 hours since I left but im settling in. I’m too physically exhausted to get manic.
I put on my wet clothes; wet f'ing boxers, wet shoes, and headed out alone in the sunshine. I had some time to think about things and I’m at a loss to describe what I've seen in the last 5 days. Its all so huge and at the same time so tiny. I've mentioned before that I've always needed to be overstimulated to feel anything. Walking 1to 2 smiles per hour in the woods has forced me to slow my mind and body down. I notice the scent of the ground in the morning, the scent and then site of the conifers as I climb, the similar sounds of trees shaking in the wind and rushing streams, and I sing to myself, particularly the song Parabola by the band tool. This is the chorus:
This body, this body holding me
Be my reminder here that I am not alone
This body, this body holding me
We are eternal, all this pain is an illusion.
I used to think the song was about two people but finally realized, for me at least, that the 'we' in the song is about putting my mind and body back together again. Its happening with each footstep. On a lighter note, I was singing "singing in the rain" to myself while getting poured upon. I only knew the first verse and I think I may have altered it but it helped pass the time.
Here are just a few of the more practical things I've learned out here:
Eat the enemy! ! Weight is the enemy, food is weight, so eat up!!!
When sleeping on a bunk in a shelter, sleep with your head facing outside. The mice and chipmunks climb up the back of the shelter.
Take care of your c'est! Address bot spots and blisters asap.
Hang your food and your pack because the rodents will chew through them searching for food.
Learn how to tie proper knots BEFORE you leave.
That's enough for now.