Miles hiked: according to my phone’s pedometer, 11.9 miles. According to Shenandoah, 13 miles.
I don’t care. My feet ache but I’m laying in my tent, listening to raindrops falling off of leaves while a bird sings. I’m exhausted and covered in heat welts.
But I’m happy.
Today, we saw two bears, both from a lovely distance so that we could enjoy and appreciate their presence without feeling threatened.
Today, we passed the stone column bearing the directions to Byrd’s Nest #4 Hut. Last year, I was crying as I neared the column, furious and frustrated by my weakness that was an anchor holding back Owl Singer and me
Today, I panted my way up the hill and exulted as I passed that column. I was tired. My feet ached, but I had the strength and energy to continue.
Once Owl Singer and I summited Pass Mountain, the afternoon thunderstorms opened on us. At first, it was negligible, but once we turned on the access road to the shelter, the storm unleashed and we were close to soaking by the time we arrived.
We sat in the shelter and chatted with another hiker. The storm passed and we found our tent site. But as we returned to the shelter for the tent, the second storm arrived.
We set up the tent; Owl Singer cooked dinner. I went to the tent and cleaned myself, soothed the savage heat welts, massaged my ankles. I have been taking ibuprofen all day and am much better only now my stomach is slightly upset.
Today, when we started the hike, my right ankle hurt so bad, I could barely pull on my hiking boot. I was slow and fretted about holding us up.
But I walked and I healed. I prayed last night for healing. I wanted to be whole this morning. God reserved that for the day.
I’m not certain how tomorrow will go with my ankles, but the reward is a hotel room at Skyland Resort. Tomorrow I will luxuriate in a long shower. I will eat a dinner and not worry about bears or leaving a trace.
I will sleep in a bed.
And dream about the Trail.