Spooky. I just came off a pretty down day and as I lay down in the shelter I look up at the ceiling and see this reassuring message to help me sleep. The trail really does provide. In this case some much needed emotional support. I went into Fontana yesterday thinking I would take a zero but made the mistake of opening the New York Times and got sucked into the shit show that is the corona virus. I decided to skip the zero and head back out on the trail after Bryan left with Chuck and Proper back to Atlanta.
I started late and didn’t see a soul on the trail. I got choked up when I had to put Taco in the car back to Atlanta and was missing Bryan even before he left. I expected a ton of solitude on the trail but the timing was crap today as I tried to unpack the rush of terrible world news alone. I haven’t been able to keep up over the last 2 weeks and it was just too much to process in such a short time.
As I climbed out of Fontana I tried to calm down by counting my breaths and also my blessings. We are in good health, have safe homes, good jobs, loving families. We are being kind and generous to others and taking precautions to stay healthy. It really will be all okay. As the miles passed I invited the mountains to help me feel better. The clean air, rocks and strong trees all are healing. They are where I go when I’m feeling lost and they remind me of everything that is right and good in the world.
I got about 14 miles in and hit the Mollies Ridge Shelter and there was Chives! I was so glad to see a friendly face. Chives was also hiking with his dog Liberty until we got to the Smokies and Ranger F’ing Rick hates dogs. We had a great long conversation yesterday about the logistics of hiking with your best friend. As I approached the shelter he asked “How’s it hiking without Taco?” “It f’ing sucks and I’m grumpy as hell” I said.
Nothing says comfort food like a Ramen Bomb so I got to mixing the ramen, instant potatoes and tuna packet and it was delicious. I had a good conversation with MF Poppins (the MF stands for what you think it stands for) about the joys of lawyering and I was out of my funk. MF was a DA in Brooklyn and cusses like a sailor. She made me laugh and we finished our meals together and traded some trail stories. Good ole Bob Marley was there to cover the last bit of wound for the day as I tucked into my bag for the night.