Last night I was probably the most tired I have been since I started this trip a month ago. I suppose back to back marathons will do that. I dozed off several times getting ready for sleep, until I gave up and decided tonight will just be about sleeping. I slept from 7:30 pm until 3:00 am. I tossed and turned until 4:30, when Chuck and I both gave up and decided that breakfast might be a good way to get the day started.

In the mornings, Chuck usually turns the lights on before I really get moving. Typically, this is between 4:45 and 5:00am. He boils water and starts coffee steeping in the French Press while I get dressed, brush my teeth and make myself pretty. By the time I’m prepped, food and a cup of coffee is always on the RV table, where I do my best impression of someone excited to be awake.

After breakfast, Chuck helps me stretch all the muscles that have tightened up overnight. I finish putting on socks, shoes, sunscreen, hats and jackets, as needed. By this time, Dean is impatient and some imagined schedule has moved up, so we rush into action. Well, I rush into action slight faster than the crawling I was already doing. I ease myself out of the RV, and waddle gingerly over to the car. Dean and I silently ride silently to the trailhead, where he hands me bars, double checks that I have enough water, points me in the right direction, and off I go.

Today, I started at Possum Track Road and dipped onto the Neuse River Trail. The Neuse River Trail mostly runs in tandem with, although sometimes parallel to the Mountains to Sea Trail, when navigating the woods surrounding Falls Lake and the Neuse River.

The trails were marked well, and terrain was easy, but it was slow going at first. Plus, I was testing out my trekking poles prowess and was opting for not impaling myself. I was successful in using the poles, but still tripped a couple of times, since I haven’t seen a root or rock larger than crushed gravel over the last month and was a little out of practice.

I climbed up and down hills, over and around fallen trees and stumps, and thoroughly enjoyed being back in the woods. Despite that temperatures that were creeping back up, I didn’t feel any sudden change. I was partially shielded from the life-sucking sun by the thick blanket of trees.

There were no cars – not one – on the trails. Nobody honked at me, flipped me off, gave me odd stares (other than Dean) or otherwise questioned my right to hike there. So I did that. I hiked with my trekking poles, my hydration pack and some guy reading Bill Bryson’s book into my brain.

For nearly 4 hours, I remained in that place where I knew where I was and could totally commit to being there without guilt, anxiety or interruption. I moved quickly, but didn’t pound it. Why would I? There weren’t a lot of crazy animals or weird adventures. I wasn’t dangling from a cliff or fighting off samurai squirrels, but this peace was pretty dramatic.

I like to think I enjoy meditative states for a long time, but even I can get uncomfortable enough at times that I mix it up by making a witticism, picking up the pace, or prank-calling a relative. But I didn’t want to leave that place. Not yet. I had waited over 4 weeks to find it, and I needed to ride it out – just a little longer.

After 16 miles, I called my brother and told him to let Prince Albert out of the can.

When you find your good place, hang on to it a little bit longer than you planned. Keep Moving Forward.



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