The last time I had seen him was while attempting the Watauga Dam Challenge, and neither of us had emerged from the encounter thinking better of the other. However, let it never be said that life isn't about second (and third, and possibly fourth) chances. When he caught up to me on this day, I was overwhelmingly relieved to see him.
Truthfully, though, I would have been as happy to see any other familiar face. No matter what, I cannot escape my nature. I am an insensitive jerk at heart, despite my best efforts to reform my ways and reconcile with the many, many people I've hurt and disappointed.
So Brünnhilde and Blackbird were taking a zero. Blackbird was having awful blisters due to her boots being half a size too small. I lectured them smartly about the best ways to deal with such things, and then hiked out. Once again, on my own. Alone. I would never see them again.
CRY FOR ME!
Due to a confluence of unforeseen circumstances, I wasn't able to write in my journal on July 9th. However, I picked things up where I had left off the following day, after I settled in for the night outside the Kay Wood Lean-to:
July, um, 10th (I think)
I just peed on my hand. Have yet to perfect the urination-through-the-bug-netting thing, which also needs a snappier name.
Yesterday, during one of my frequent rests, and old acquaintence caught up with me, Fredo. He persuaded me to do 20 miles instead of 15, so we could stay at this cabin on a lake that had a canoe and a beach with swimming and all this other shit I didn't get to see. I don't know why I did it (wait, I do: loneliness), but it ended up being well worth the trip.
The caretakers—who thru-hiked in 2003 and now work for... I dunno? The AMC maybe? I think it's only a volunteer position, but anyway—made everyone coffee and pancakes in the morning. Normally, I am not a coffee drinker. Er, well, was not. The secret to coffee, as I've found out, is that you have to add sugar! Sugarcoffeesugar!!! I wish I had some right now.
Days pass, yet I think about the same things and sing the same songs, albeit in different ways. (Fast, slow, soft, loud, with the right lyrics, with the wrong lyrics, etc.) I see the same brown trail in front of me, the same green(ish) foliage on either side, feel the same bugs flying around my head and landing on my skin, sometimes biting me, sometimes drowning in my sweat.
Sometimes the views charge, like when you emerge from the forest onto a barren mountaintop. And sometimes more of the same can be good, like when you find blueberries. The pain in my feet remains unchanged. My company changes, slowly. The incessant birdsong stays the same. So do the hunger and thirsts in my heart, and my stomach...
Now, sleep. Tomorrow: chocolate milk. Exciting!