First, some notes on usage.
One does not go southbound. One merely is southbound.
If you say you’re southbound, that means you’re bound for the south. Okay. So would you say you’re going bound for the south? If you’re a fan of not sounding like English is your fourth language, you probably wouldn’t do that. You’d just say you’re going south, or say that you’re southbound. Choose one. Sassy, Chance, and Shadow were homeward bound. They did not go homeward bound. They merely went home.
Athena and I took a zero today in Free Union, VA. We hadn’t really planned it out that way, but I’m okay with it. We slept in, watched American Pickers, and stared at our gear until we found some junk to get rid of. I removed over 50 ounces from my pack, and acquired a wonderful new long sleeved wool shirt (thanks, Mom!), for a net loss of over 2 pounds!
For a week I’ve been watching our average speed with a little spreadsheet I put together. I think we’re looking good to be done – at the latest – around November 20th. We could cut 5 or more days off of that if the weather holds, but I’m adding a lot of cushioning here both for weather and the next random zero we’ll undoubtedly take in some nice place. Honestly, we could likely take 3 zeroes and still make that date.
When I told Athena that, she stared off into space for a second, then said, “That’s scary. I know what to do out here. I don’t know what to do when I get back.”
That’s not a problem I have.
From the first few days on the trail my mind has been creating a list of things to do. As a fantasy writer I’m dissatisfied with most web-based word/name generators, so I’m going to make a better one. Or several better ones. I told my buddy Jay a long time ago that I wanted to make him a new dog house, and while I worked on a few designs, I never finished any of them and it kind of fizzled when I decided to come out here. I’m going to build him a bad ass dog house. I have an idea – one others have had, apparently – for how I can create an ultralight shelter that doubles as highly effective rain protection, and I want to at least make a prototype. It should weigh in at a little less than my current tent, so that’s exciting.
There are too many things to get into here. Doing work on my dad’s house. Helping my grandmother with whatever she needs done at her new place. Drawing. Learning to use the tablet I bought earlier this year and translate my (very basic) pen-and-paper artistic ability into something digital. Working through everything that seems interesting on Khan Academy, which is to me pretty much everything.
Most importantly, I’m going to finish my book. Every day I work on my outline on my phone. Every day my fictional world gets deeper. It’s possible that I’m overdoing it, but that’s okay. It’ll be good editing practice to eliminate the extraneous.
There’s something I’ve been wanting to talk about: I night hiked up Greylock in Massachusetts and took a load of pictures at the top. I hadn’t slept at all that day, and had begun hiking some 13 hours after waking. At one point Moonshine and I heard something very large move near us to the left of the trail, and she called out, “Helloooooo, forest! We’re just passing throooooough!” Later my headlamp died. For some reason I had no extra batteries (or just couldn’t find them), but Rad gave me his extras, a favor I haven’t yet been able to repay.
Some of the images from that night stand out, but none more than the view of the memorial tower there, a CCC project that honors the fallen soldiers of World War I. I made it up there around 2 in the morning with Rad somewhere ahead and Moonshine just behind me. We’d just passed an emergency shelter intended for people seeking shelter from harsh winter conditions.
When I stumbled into the clearing and saw this thing rearing up into the sky I was shaken by its majesty. It was pale and arcane in the dark, reaching out to me. So sudden. I turned around a bend in the trail and there it was. I sat down and watched it, watched, not looked. That night the moon had smiled on us the whole way, bright enough for the trees to cast strong shadows when our lights were off as we stopped to rest. Later I learned that this was a “supermoon”, the largest full moon of the year – an interesting accident.
Moonshine came up behind me. Glad that she couldn’t see the tears in my eyes, I fumbled for my camera to give myself something to do. She stood and watched with me a moment. I don’t know if she saw what I did. Sitting there, I took several photos, and this one’s my favorite. We walked around the grounds and touched the stone of it. We had nothing to say about it; we just experienced it. Rad tried the door, but it was locked. I sat in the grass a while and dozed. Finally I stood up.
I’m going back to the cabin. I’ll see you guys later.
Haven’t seen them since. This was about 700 miles back. I think I’ll remember that night forever. It’s hard to say why, but it was special to me. Anyway, here’s that picture, along with some others. Time for bed. I’m excited to get back on the trail and get a day closer to the Priest!