Day 16: Dry camp at mile 279 to Splinter’s Cabin
Trail miles 279-298.5
May 18, 2019
The walking today was mostly easy, but there was a lot of it.
In the morning, Hiccups and Danish caught up to me after a few miles and we began to talk anout photography. At one point, Danish put forward the idea that the act of photographing something (distilling a message or a feeling by composing a specific image from a larger scene) may lead to a deeper appreciation for or better understanding of the scene. I had to laugh at the similarity between this point and the idea I’d discussed the previous day with Casper that describing an experience with language can make the experience more meaningful.
In the afternoon, many people stopped for a siesta by a small tributary to Holcomb Creek. I closed my eyes for a while but didn’t feel sleepy, so after massaging my feet and enjoying the sound of the breeze in the trees, I shouldered my pack and moved on.
My new shoes seemed to be working well, although the ball of my left foot (which had been going numb in my old shoes) was painful for much of the day.
It is hard to tell on this hike which pains are worth worrying about. As T-Pain says most days, “It feels like there’s broken glass in my feet.” My feet don’t feel quite that bad, but every time I begin walking, it does take about half an hour for the aches in my foot muscles and tendons to work themselves out. As the day wears on, my feet inevitably become very tender, no matter how warm they are, but I don’t think this pain is cause for concern. I hope that as I continue doing the same thing day after day, my body will adapt to the challenge by turning my bones into carbon fiber and my muscles into industrial strength, indefatigueable rubber bands. The other option is slow degradation leading to stress fractures, ruptured ligaments, and frayed fascia. My sun-gloved fingers are crossed and my toe-socked toes are splayed for the former.
After leaving the siesta spot, I walked for a while with Carjack, who also couldn’t sleep. We discussed the advantages and drawbacks of hiking with such a large group. Neither of us expected an experience as social as this hike has been. Although I am thrilled to have people around me who greet me by (trail-) name and care about my wellbeing, I also need solitude to sort through my thoughts and to absorb the details of the beautiful landscapes through which I have been passing. Despite the joy of shared jokes and the comfort of camping with others, time spent in a group as large as my trail family can become emotionally draining.
After talking for a few miles, Carjack and I split up and hiked alone for a couple hours. While I walked alone, my mind was able to settle into a deep rhythm, and I began to examine some of the questions I promised myself I would address while on this hike. These include what I believe are the typical problems for someone my age: Where do I want to live and work? What kind of work do I find most meaningful? What kind of life do I want to lead and how can I share that life with others in various capacities?
Progress on these matters is necessarily slow, but like walking to Canada, progress is made by addressing the challenge incrementally. So although I came to no major conclusions today, I did decide that hiking alone is something I would like to do more. It allows me to work through ideas deliberately and without distraction, and I suspect that spending part of the day in solitude will make me a better friend when I arrive at camp to rejoin my trail family.
Hiccups with a bag of crushed potato chips: a calorie dense snack that packs efficiently.
Best enjoyed with a spoon
Siesta near Holcomb Creek tributary
I think these big pink crystals are feldspar, but please correct me if you know better.
Moss has been a rare sight on the trail so far
Any idea what kind of bird this is?