Another Marathon Day

My feet and legs ache tonight. Well, they ache almost every night, but tonight it's keeping me awake. It's not surprising after another 26 mile marathon day, bringing my total mileage up to 1,450. Since I'm out of Aleve and Ibuprofen, I thought I'd write something on my blog instead of focusing on the aches and pains. I can't promise anything interesting will come of it.

It began to pour right after I got to the shelter and it continues to patter on the roof overhead. It's strange since I never saw more than a wisp of clouds in the sky all day.

The shelter was already occupied when I arrived. I can see him now tinted red in the monochromatic light of my headlamp. Or should I say her? I can't really tell. I'll just say "he" is licking chocolate from an abandoned candy bar wrapper that he found on the floor. He's staring at me cautiously. His dark eyes like two droplets of black ink. Neither of us are making a sound other than the crinkling of the wrapper. I think he just noticed I was awake, because a look of fear flashed in his eyes and he dashed across the floor then into a hole in the wall.  I should mention that the shelter's occupant is a mouse, although I'm curious what you were picturing.

My feet are throbbing. They ache like... well no need for similes, they ache like I hiked 26 miles today. My left thigh has a sensation like pins and needles are writhing around like knotted worms. I reached down to massage it and it feels slightly numb. Not as numb as my right big toe, though. You might be thinking, at least it doesn't hurt, but sometimes it does without warning. A deep sharp pain all the way down to the bone.

The mouse is scurrying along the rafters now, showing some interest in my backpack that is hanging below him on a peg. Will he fall down onto my chest like one did to a hiker I met in Pennsylvania? Or crawl into my sleeping bag like one did to a hiker I read about in a shelter log yesterday? Maybe it will wait until I'm asleep and run across my head like one did to Thumper in a New York shelter.

My legs and feet are twitching involuntarily. I assume it's just part of my nightly healing process.

I feel I might be making trail life seem less glamorous somehow. Actually, I love all of this. This trip is such a significant part of me now that I know one day I'll miss even these chilly nights huddled in my mummy sleeping bag, with steam pouring out of the opening around my face with each breath. I'll even miss the shelter mouse, who I can now hear scrambling over the dry leaves under the floorboards. I think I may even miss these aches and pains. I often wonder how I could ever go back to a normal life on the "inside". Like the opposite of a prisoner in Shawshank, I'm an un-institutionalized man now.

I think I'm finally tired enough to fall asleep. Tomorrow is a special day for me. The trail comes really close to a Pizza Hut near Troutville, Virginia, with an all you can eat buffet. Now, I have no doubt that when I'm off the trail I'll miss being able to eat whatever I want and still lose weight. In fact, I might miss that most of all.