Sandy arrived late in Okeechobee to pick me up. The economy motel was still full from a fishing tournament, and their only remaining room was a smoking room. My feet were blistered and hurting, but what Sandy didn’t like was the cough deep in my chest. So there was no way we were going to stay there. We checked into the Holiday Inn Express. And after dinner and a couple showers, she let me near her. 😉
Love and a perfect hiking partner is a wonderful thing! Yes I looked like heck and smelled terrible. But Sandy didn’t hesitate to give me a great big hug when she picked me up.
Speaking of hiking partners, I missed having Sandy there to hike with more than I could have ever imagined. In the last 365 days, we haven’t been apart more than a couple weeks. And this was my first time hiking without her in all that time. Without her there with me I felt lost. My mood was miserable, and I couldn’t shake it. I hated hiking in the swamp, I hated walking on the road, and I hated walking on the dike. This was the most negative I had been in a very long time. Had Sandy been there, I’m sure that I would have done better!
It was great spending a zero day with the group at the Holiday Inn Express. Our group had split into two defined groups. The faster three were continuing north, not ready for a zero. The rest of us are moving a little slower and are enjoying the slower pace.
After my rescue and a zero day (plus having Sandy there) I felt better. Only my blistered feet still hurt.
There had been a recent trail re-route to eliminate approximately six miles of road walk. It’s a small section that Sandy was missing, so with the help of Chuck and the van, we left our car and walked back to it. Being in a day pack, in the woods, and hiking with Sandy it would be a good test of my feet.
After ten miles and some boot sucking mud, we were both ready to call it a day. And I realized that I could use a bit more time to heal. Back at home, I caught up on my journal and blogs. And spent very little time on my feet.
I hadn’t hiked as much as I had hoped, but I did a few great photos in the swamp. Along with the GPS data we were missing.
Adding up my miles, I have hiked just over 86 miles. Which is my new solo long distance record. One I’ll be breaking soon, when I rejoin the group. I’m still no tough hard core long distance hiker, but I’ve started.
When Doug picked me up along the side of the road, I was physically and mentally spent. I kept wondering, can I really do this? After less than two weeks, I was a wreck!
Doug, who’s been a Trail Angel for years, could tell I needed a little encouragement. He asked if I had ever met Eb, aka Nimblewill Nomad, the long distance hiker from my home town, and author of Ten Million Steps. I’ve visited his website many times and read and dreamed of doing “Odysseys” like him. But no, I had never met him. He smiled handed me a copy of Ten Million Steps, and reminded me that on Eb’s first night out, he set both his tent and sleeping bag on fire.
So yes, we all have to start somewhere. I’ll return to the group and see just how far I can make it. Every step will make me stronger! But when I’m done this season, I won’t be planning any long distance hikes without Sandy. I miss her too much and it’s not as fun without her.