Thruhiker: Day 6

March 25 (8:30 – 16:15)
Dawson County Line – Sweetwater Park (20 mi)
Total C2C miles: 101.5
Weather: Cold, cloudy, rainy – again!

I can’t seem to catch a break with the weather. It’s cold and cloudy again, and as the clouds grow heavy, I expect rain.

I shouldn’t be surprised. This is March, and March is all about rain.

But somehow, with our weird cold spell, I expected the normal patterns to shift completely. I had this idea that the cold would split to heat, and that once the jet stream wobbled again, we’d have warm southern air.

I shouldn’t complain. It’s good weather for walking. I bundle up, wear my sleeves that reach down to cover my fingers, snuggle on my knit cap, and walk.

The walking, especially with my pack on my back, keeps me warm.

Hiker’s hunger hasn’t yet set in. I’ve still got my city-life baby fat to help fuel the miles. The hunger I feel is just ordinary hunger that can be satisfied with a handful of nuts, a few dates, and an apple. Then, I’m good to go again.

I hear that it’s in the fourth week of hiking that the hunger really settles in, and then, trail food doesn’t really cut it. I will be in the mountains by then, and I’ve scouted out a few trail towns to detour to so I can fill up on spaghetti.

This is how it is on the trail: I’m walking through the most beautiful landscapes, and what do I think of? Eating spaghetti three weeks from now, anticipating my future hunger.

I bring myself back to the sensation of the packed dirt beneath my feet. Each step makes a slight sloop sound. Or maybe it’s more like slop. Plock. Swop.

The air smells sweet and moist, the scent of daisies swirling with the rain smell.

Drops of mist gather on my eyelashes, and through them, the world looks bedazzled, with diamonds sparkling everywhere.

Then silence, and the stopping of thoughts, and the miles are built on footsteps, heartbeats, breaths, and this is why I take to the trail, for these moments when all-that-is is right now, and I am alive, in the moment, in the breathing landscape around me, listening to the heartbeats and murmurs of trees.

The air is different now, and I am 19 miles from my county line. I am in a new land, and with each step, I will be further and further from my old home.

I think it’s right about here that I pass the 100 mile mark. For a moment, I consider stopping here, setting up camp at mile 100, but I want to press on for a little longer, before sun sets. I want to walk 20 miles today, and that means going another mile down the trail.

Then I come to the perfect spot to set up my tent, in a little clearing beside the river.

Once my tent is up, the drizzle turns to rain, and I’m grateful the downpour waited until after my tent was pitched. I will stay warm and dry inside tonight, even when it pours.

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