Today was beyond physically and emotionally challenging, but let's start at the beginning...
I woke up around 3:30 am yet again because I had to pee but didn't want to get up and go outside my tent in the dark. And then I started thinking about how all those people kept passing the shelter last night because they wanted to see the sunset from the top of Bromley mountain. I looked outside and the moonlight was strong. I was only 2 miles from the peak. I decided I needed to face my fears of the forest in the dark at and head on.
It took me until 5 am to change, pack up camp, and get my beer bag down, but then I quickly and strongly started pushing myself up the mountain, praying for the strength every step of the way. Although I avoided stopping, I could see the sky becoming lighter and brighter and so I pushed myself even harder. Luckily, there was a "Vista" sign and I took it to an open rock face that looked out to a beautiful mountain range. From there I was fortunate enough to see the last of the sunrise. The mountains looked blue and the sky was a variation of pinks and yellows.
I made my way to the opening of what would typically be the ski slope in winter and picked a breakfast full of red clover flowers and mini wild strawberries. Medicinally, red clover flower heads are cooling to the body and hormonally balancing. Women dealing with hot flashes typically use them in a tea. When I reach the Wildflower Meadow at the peak my breath quickened all over again with excitement. There was a 360-degree on look to the mountains layered by more mountains all around. Being exposed to the wind that early in the morning, I was very grateful for my new blue sweater. I hiked in it until about 7: 30 am. Then I remember to switch out my socks and ironically I ran into the military man that had told me to change my socks every 3 hours the night before. He said by changing my socks every 3 hours or so, it would help prevent me from getting trench foot and blisters. I was very grateful for the tip. He also showed me the pictures of the sunset from last night. The colors were a phenomenal array of deep reds and oranges. I was sad to have missed it and made a note to myself that I would do my best to see a sunset from the next beautiful mountaintop that had an outlook.
As the day went on I found myself becoming more and more anxious about the eight miles I had to complete all in one day since there was no water between the Bromley shelter and the Peru shelter. The task was daunting with the three mountain peaks to climb up and down. Every time I thought I was almost there, only a few more hours, there would be so much more to go. I was slowing down significantly and sweating profusely.
At one point, an AT through hiker asked if we could walk together for a while. I laughed and told him I was moving real slow but if he didn't mind I'd be happy to walk with him. He was an older gentleman, probably in his 70's with a large white beard that had red tips. His trail name was Fox because of it. He was very friendly and we talked about the shelters and the people we've met along the way. I told him about facing my fear of the dark so I wouldn't be afraid to pee at night. He said that was a very good thing because I wouldn't want to get a UTI out here from not peeing. I hadn't even thought of that!
When my 2L hydration bladder was empty and my water bottle only had about 2 inches left of water, I started sucking on Lifesaver candies to keep moisture in my mouth and to avoid wanting to over drink. I kept praying for the strength and drive to keep going and telling myself not to worry because God will provide. I needed to focus on moving forward.
About 2 miles from the Peru shelter I finally hit a miniature stream flowing out of the path. Evidence that the Anna's had been there was clear by the use of a hobblebush leaf stuck between two rocks making a spout for the water. They had shown me the trick last night and I was grateful to know it as it made filling up my bottle very quick and easy.
Taking off my pack as fast as I could to get to the water, my Fitbit watch caught on my pack strap and broke into three pieces. The scraps of it flew and landed in the water. But I could care less. At that moment all I cared about was refilling my water and cooling down. Once I had something to drink, I collected the pieces and stuck them in my pocket. Then I took my bandana and soaked it in the cool water and wrapped it around my neck. I took my time with those last two miles down to Griffin Lake. And I thanked God as I walked for the water. It took me quite a while to finish those last couple of miles since I was so exhausted and had been hiking since 5 am and it was now about 6 pm.
When I finally reached Griffin Lake, just passed the Peru shelter, my anxiety had subsided but its toll had wrecked havoc on my body. I had no energy left in me and didn't know how I was going to continue like this for 2 weeks. But people kept reassuring me that there was more water ahead and that would be the longest stretch I'd have to go. I decided the next day would be a zero-day, meaning a day without miles. And I thought a lake would be a beautiful setting for my day off. I imagined swimming, relaxing and writing by the water.
With this plan in mind, I walked past the shelter and designated tenting area and around to the opposite side of the lake. I found a small clearing to the water with a flat spot of Earth just big enough to fit my tent. It wasn't ideal in the sense that one door was blocked by a small hill and the other had a short drop off the ledge to the water framed by two pine trees. But that didn't bother me. I could open the door and hop jump to the front of my tent when I needed to get in and out.
As I walked around the area, I couldn't find any service. Eventually, I walked back to the designated tenting area and asked a woman I saw hiking with her dog earlier if once she got service if she wouldn't mind contacting Len for me to let him know I made it to Griffin Lake and that I'd likely be taking a zero-day tomorrow. That's when she also informed me that there was a chance of an afternoon storm tomorrow but rumor had it that it was looking like it might pass by. I thanked her and headed back to my tent.
After cooking dinner, washing up, and hanging my bear bag way more than 200 feet away from my tent, I settled in and left the rain fly folded back so I could look out the screen to the water while writing this entry. My body was aching and my feet throbbed in pain. Since I was on a slight incline I decided to lay with my legs uphill to decrease the blood flow to my ankles and feet as well as take some of the pressure off my heart. I was slippery in and out of consciousness when I decided to close the rain fly and get into my sleeping bag. It was only 8pm but I was utterly exhausted and I couldn't bear to be awake any longer.
Unfortunately, what I was about to wake up to the next morning would end my pleasant dreams for the rest of the trip.
As a trauma survivor I have learned to move forward in my life and heal from my past by exploring many passions such as spirituality, art, travel & herbalism. I hope my blog can help inspire healing in others and let them know they are not alone on their journey.