Thruhiker – Day 8

March 27 (6:00 – 15:45)
Magnolia Promenade – Newcrest (20 mi)
Total C2C miles: 143.5
Weather: Cloudy, partly sunny AGAIN – rain in the morning, clearing in afternoon

It’s silent when I wake, save for raindrops on the hard pavement and tiled roofs.

No one is in the courtyard, and the vendor that I bought the tea from last night is closed up, a note pinned to the door.

Service suspended, due to pandemic shut-down, per Governor’s order.

We’ll open for take-out once we find a way to get PPE.

Be safe, people. Masks on!

The pandemic? I check my phone, scrolling through Google’s newsfeed.

When I left, a week ago, the pandemic was something that was on another continent. We didn’t have to worry about it here.

I admit, I hadn’t even looked at the news, except for weather reports, during the past week. But one week? Could things change that much in a week’s time?

Indeed. On Friday, with 120 people testing positive in the state, 55 in this county, Governor Kracken, spooked by rising death counts across the nation’s border, joined governors across the country in issuing “shelter-in-place” orders.

We were all to stay at home.

What does that mean for me, who doesn’t have a home, at present? My home is the trail, until I get where I’m going.

And what of others who don’t have homes?

I scan the executive order. The homeless are to find shelter. Or get tested and then go into quarantine, if positive, or temporary housing, if not.

No mention made of travelers or thru-hikers, like me, only that travel is being canceled, and everyone is to go home. This isn’t going to work.

I’m frightened. I’m confused. I just walk, leaving Magnolia Promenade.

I think, if I can just get through here, without seeing anyone, with no one seeing me, it will be OK.

Just stick to the trail.

I walk and I focus on my heartbeat, the rhythm of my breathing, my rushed steps. I focus on the moist air, and I wonder, does the virus survive better in humid or arid conditions?

No one is around.

I walk, and no one is around, and if no one is around, then there is no one to spread the virus.

How did this all happen so sudden? Why did I not know?

Of course I didn’t know, for I haven’t spoken to anyone. But I wonder why the vendor didn’t tell me when I bought my tea last night.

I think of the revelers at the bar, their shouts and songs and noise. Of course. It was their last party before shut-down.

The sun comes out, blaring its rays across the pond, and I realize that the sun doesn’t care about viruses. It shines regardless.

It’s not silent, for robins, thrushes, wrens, and mockingbirds sing, louder than ever. But there is no noise of cars or planes.

I simply walk because I don’t know what else to do. The trail winds beside the river between Magnolia Park and Newcrest, so it’s a pleasant hike, and when my thoughts cease and my breath keeps me going, one foot after the next, I don’t have worries.

I walk like this all day.

When at last I reach the Newcrest Park, I head into the forest, way off the trail and out of sight of any houses. This will do. I’m trying to find a balance between denial, responsibility, helplessness, need for control, and just being a person with a dream of hiking across country. I feel like a fugitive.

But no one anticipated this, right? And for right now, I don’t really see many options for me. So I guess I’ll just keep on with my hike.

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