On a day that had so much potential, I had one of the worst trail days I've had in a while. I woke up this morning thinking I was going to knock out a solid 16+ miles today, get into New York, and be a little bit closer to my goal of catching a Braves game in NYC. I hate to say it, but I think that dream died today.
The day started out like any other day lately. I woke up sweating and began breaking down camp as I fought off the mosquitoes and gnats. I ate breakfast, purified some water, and set off in the blistering heat around 8:30. It was hot, no doubt, but it wasn't any hotter than it has been the last week or so, with the high being in the mid 90s. But for some reason the heat and humidity really got to me today, and I didn't feel the energy I've come to expect from myself. I was dying going up every mountain and through every clearing. I just couldn't get it together. I took a long break at an amazing farm market called Heaven Hill Farms. I bought a few plums and peaches and sat underneath a shade tree drinking tons of water. A lot of other thru hikers were there too so we all hung out together and had a lot of fun beating the heat. Also, the owner of the farm market was super hiker friendly! Eventually I felt a little better so I pressed on up the trail. A few hours later I began itching everywhere! I'm pretty used to being itchy because the mosquitoes are so bad, but this was different. I took my shirt off too discover that my entire torso had broken out in a rash. A heat rash. I stopped and took another long break trying to cool off and figure out how this could have happened. I mean I was hot, but I've been this hot for days, and I've never gotten a heat rash in my life. Good lord do heat rashes itch! I'm finally starting to feel better again, when boom, I feel a piercing pain in my right shoulder! Some unknown insect had just planted it's stinger right into my skin. It immediately began swelling up. I have no idea what stung me but man did it hurt! It still kind of hurts actually - the swelling and the mark has gone down but my arm still feels a little achy. Well, I pull out my guide book and see that I am only a few miles from a state park, so I begin walking to get there. I show up at the state park to discover that the office is closed, but my good friend Jackalope is hanging out by the office. He says his parents are coming to get him for his 30th birthday, and that I am more than welcome to go by their condo to eat, shower, and hang out in the AC for a while. Finally something is going right today! While I'm waiting, another friend of mine, Predator, gives me some Benadryl, which knocks me out but makes me feel a million times better.
I take Jackalope up on his offer. I hadn't done the miles I was supposed to for the day, but I needed some trail magic in the worst kind of way. Olive Oil, Wet Bag, and I accompany Jackalope and his parents to their condo where we hang out, cool off, and eat delicious food! Jackalope's parents have their own garden, and nearly everything I ate came from it. The spaghetti sauce was homemade from their tomatoes, and the salad was made up of nothing but fresh vegetables. Jackalope's mom even made homemade bread and apple pie! Talk about awesome trail magic! So my day was finally turning around....or so I thought.
Jackalope's parents took me, Olive Oil, and Wet Bag back to the trail later that night. We only planned to go a hundred yards or so to the campsite, so I didn't bother putting on my boots. Maybe 50 yards in, I kick a rock in my sandals and slice my big toe wide open. So there I am, a mere 50 yards from camp, attempting to stop the bleeding sitting in the dark with flies and mosquitoes attacking my headlamp from all directions. And there my friends is where my epic NYC push will probably die. I don't see any way how I am going to be able to do the necessary miles to NYC with my big toe in this condition, or this heat rash which has only slightly improved.
Yep, today was pretty miserable, with a few good things sprinkled in for flair. And I wonder why only 17% of thru hikers made it to Katadhin last year. I wonder why I see my friends dropping like flies every day around me. All I can say is that the sun will rise. I will be in a new state tomorrow. This to shall pass.