NOT ALREADY!!!! L.L.Bean At Relay Day 3
Pierce Pond is a lovely place to sit, relax, camp, and enjoy a restful night on the trail. So one would hope. A sixteen mile hike in the sweltering heat and setting up your tent on the water's edge should have been a perfect recipe for corpse like slumber. Not for me! If you have followed my hiking blogs at all you will recognize my description of how I sleep on the trail, and at home for that matter. I compare it to a rotisserie chicken, Most nights I turn all night long never really going to sleep until just before its time to rise and shine. Last night was one of those nights. I was grateful we had decided to "sleep" in and not worry about the mileage we were expected to do.
To stay on track today we needed to crank out 18.5 miles. Yeah, like that was going to happen. I was sweating before I even had breakfast. Stacey and I leisurely packed and ate our Good To-Go meals on the edge of the pond while we planned out our day. Basically it was, we will hike and see how it goes.
I managed to find a little generosity in the depths of my tired soul this morning. I was so touched by Spot's enthusiasm for the trail, the people, and what L.L.Bean was doing, I decided to give him my L.L.Bean trucker hat as a souvenir. Most of the time thru hikers do not want anything extra, so I was glad he accepted my offer. It looked better on him then me anyways.
Off we went with our tummies full for another day of adventure in the Maine woods. Again, as many of my readers know I suffer from metatarsal pain. It's just something I have had to deal with but never let it stop me from getting outside and enjoying whatever it is I want to pursue. But today, less than an hour into our hike, the pain began. NOT ALREADY!!! Usually it didn't creep in until after a few hours of hiking. At one point, on the verge of tears, I confided in Stacey I didn't know what was wrong, it was the worst pain I had ever had. It was going to be another long day.
Yesterday we crossed the 2000 or so mile marker and today we crossed the Kennebec River. The AT passes over many rivers from GA-ME. Some times large bridges like the Bear Mountain Bridge near Bear Mountain, NY and the James River Bridge in Virginia. Awesome structures carry hikers to safety. Sometimes it's a cool suspension bridge that bounces as we trod gently to the other side. Other times it's a simple plank board walk. Here in Maine we like to keep the "wild" in "wilderness and a bridge is a luxury. More times then not the only way to cross is to ford the stream. But the Kennebec River is too wide and unpredictable for safe fording. In fact, several hikers have lost their life trying to swim across. The ATC contracts a guide to ferry outdoor enthusiasts from shore to shore. The canoe even has a white blaze in the bottom to make it the official route of the AT.
Once safely across we filtered water and had another break. We just couldn't eat and drink enough. While doing so we chatted with the guide and a trail maintainer for our section of the hike. Both men were concerned about our lofty mileage goals. As much as we wanted to accomplish the task we were assigned, all indications were lining up to be more than we could do. We once again were looking at Plan B.
If the foot pain wasn't enough the heat and humidity were just as bad if not worse than yesterday. We were stopping every 15-20 minutes to drink and rest my feet. At one point we had to just stop and sit in a stream crossing. Today was the first time ever hiking, I was truly worried about the heat. We were not taking any chances.
The heat, foot pain and expectations were weighing us down both mentally and physically. We both were letting the thought of failure hinder our enjoyment of being outside. We were focusing way too much on those expectations placed on us by someone else, the logistics of the relay. Hindsight is useless at the moment. Hiking this trail twice I should have looked at my past notes more thoroughly and realized that an average of 20 miles per day for this section just wasn't feasible. But having the personality I am plagued with, I ignored the facts and attempted to do what was asked. Unlike yesterday though, we did not push on and stopped short of our high mileage day. We still arrived late setting up in the dark.
Despite our discouragement we were slowly coming to grips with the fact we were not able to keep on track with our itinerary. In the beginning we felt it was just us, but time and time again we met thru hiker after thru hiker who more than once said, "What are you nuts!" Unless we were Wonder Woman and the Bionic Woman, 53 miles in 3 days over the terrain we had in the heat we were experiencing, just wasn't going to happen.
Like all my adventures it has been through the pain and struggle that I have learned the most and this trip has been no exception. The term expectations rang so loudly in my head I couldn't drown it out with my sweat or painful feet. I came up with this:
In life we are often so concerned with what other's expect of us it often robs us of enjoying who we are, what we are doing, and what we have. No matter what age, what career, what familial position, etc we are at, perfection is expected. That just isn't possible. While I believe in trying to do your best no matter how menial the task, perfection is a concept that has only ever been achieved by one person. That is a discussion for another day. Why do we allow what others expect of us to have such control? Once Stacey and I let go of that pressure we were able to relax and once again enjoy the reason we were out there in the first place, to Be An Outsider.
My wish for you today is to let go, do your very best, shoot for the moon, but don't try to live up to unrealistic expectations placed upon you by others or even yourself.