Last night was the fourth of July. My husband Brew met me at a dirt road in Vermont and then whisked me away to Woodstock, VT to enjoy a cook-out and fireworks show. On a side note, when I say he met me on a dirt road… the road was actually a rock-strewn river and Brew was forced to park over a mile away and run in to meet me. But, finding me – as always- we waded back to the car and headed off to celebrate our country’s independence.
I had hiked over eleven hours and put in 32 miles, but I still had a sense of guilt and remorse at leaving the trail. I mean I am trying to finish the trail as quickly as possible and now I was headed off to enjoy a community gathering in a town I had never been to before? I felt fine, there were two hours of sunlight left… I should have still been hiking! But the fact of the matter is, Brew and I had already decided to take it easy our first two days in Vermont to let my body recover from the demands of New Hampshire and Maine.
Overall, physically I am pleased with how well my body has handled the trail. Yes, I get tired hiking all day, but I have gotten over my initial injuries and soreness and can tell that I am getting stronger. My ankle was swollen from day 2 to 11, but is now quite shapely and small once again. The thing that is really getting to me is that I am sleepy – very sleepy. I was waking up at 4:30 almost every morning in the first two states…. you gotta love all that summer daylight, but all those early mornings have caught up with me and I now crave naps every morning at about 11 AM. Folks like David Horton and other amazing trailblazers have told me that they require very little sleep during their athletic endeavors. I need 8 hours not only for the trail, but also for my marriage – I get very cranky and whiny when I don’t sleep (Brew will attest to this!).
A part of me can justify the fact that we are getting some R&R as we enter Vermont. But the type-A in me hates knowing that there is gas left in the tank. So heading into Woodstock, VT, I cringed at the thought of off-trail fun. Was this really allowed? Does record setting condone hot-dogs and apple pie?
It wasn’t until my dinner digested midway through the fireworks show that I finally decided the moment was good – the moment was very good. As much as this record attempt is about making miles and appreciating the ruggedness of the outdoors, it is also about enjoyment and self-preservation. So there is something to be said for pausing and taking note of the culture and region surrounding the trail. Above that, I really, honestly, truly, don’t think my body could go all-day, everyday, even if my subconscious tells me it should. Burning out in New England is not conducive to completing the next 1600+ miles. So yes, I am going to take two short days, and yes I am going to enjoy my 4th of July hot dog, and in the end… I think I’m probably going to hike better and stronger because of these guilty pleasures.