Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Chapter 118: Is it Fjord or Ford?

The climb out of Manchester Center was absolutely brilliant.

It helped that it was a stunning, cloudless day. From the observation platform atop Bromley Mountain, I felt like I could look around and see all of Creation in front of me. Like I was on top of the world. Even if—at 3,260 feet—I was barely a quarter mile above the valley floor. Hardly a significant accomplishment. Still, with the I had hiked out some Mtn Dew in my water bottle, and thought now was as good a time as any to break it out in celebration.

Here's a physics lesson, for all of you. The air pressure at altitude tends to be much lower than it is at sea-level. Why? Magic, duh. Because the higher you go, the less physical matter—like trees and houses and whatnot—there is around the air, hemming it in, and so it naturally has more room to spread out. Simple, right?

However, that's not the point.

The point is this: the pressure inside my water bottle—which contained a highly carbonated beverage, don't forget—was disproportionately greater than the air pressure outside. Thus, opening it was a little like pulling the pin on a highly comical grenade. If I hadn't been holding onto the lid, it might have taken my eye out. As it was, it merely caused me to punch myself in the chin, hard, while an explosive geyser of Mtn Dew drenched me from head to foot.

Ignoring the raucous, derisive laughter of the throngs of hysterical onlookers—oh, wait. That's right. There was nobody there. Alone with my humiliation, I took the opportunity to write in my journal:
No entry while I was in town. Manchester Pizza, despite its glowing recommendation in my guidebook, sucked. The Green Mountain House was, however, awesome. Two (free) pints of Ben & Jerry's, 3+ meals culled from random hiker box supplies, plus the opportunity to watch "The Fifth Element," "Hellboy II," "Avatar," "Spider Man 2," and "Rumble in the Bronx?" Nice.

Always mixed emotions when getting back on the trail. Excitement, yes. Sadness too for leaving behind that which is comfortable and familiar. A certain amount of dread for the unknown one is about to face, and more sadness still that one's journey is one day closer to completion. Yet more dread at the unknown that awaits us back in "real life," as though living out here isn't real...

An "easy" (presumed, by me) 13 or so more miles awaits me today. Rellishing the opportunity to take it easy, and relax when I want to. Somehow, I'm both worried about eating too much and worried about carrying out too much food. Also worried about rain. Preoccupied with thoughts of Megan, family, home, and food (of course). But mostly Megan. And then of seeing mom and dad in Hanover. But still, mostly Megan.

Had a weird anxiety dream last night about being in an airport, being constantly late, and then rushing for a plane with Tricia and a lot of other hikers. Then the plane, a 747, came in for a landing on the wrong runway, while we all crowded on a narrow, unpaved runway, between rows of low, overhanging trees, all swaying violently in a dangerous, gusty wind. Huh?
Moving on.

Later that afternoon, I was faced with a rather irksome dilemma. I could take a 5.3 mile reroute around where a bridge had apparently been taken out by a flood, or I could risk boulder hopping across the river, which several southbound Long Trailers suggested would lead to my immediate death. Well, I hadn't walked sixteen hundred miles through heartbreak and hardship just to foolishly risk my life doing something incredibly stupid. On the other hand, 5.3 miles is an awful long way, and I am not—nor have I ever been—a coward. Or particularly smart.

So I soldiered on. And—luckily—the raging torrents I was warned about amounted to little more than a pleasing tickle. I may not have even gotten my boots wet.

Who said fording was difficult?

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