One long day behind me. Another ahead! Last night, a fraternity brother, Paul, showed up at the campsite, wearing a hydration pack on his back and a tent under his arm, cracking jokes. He was staying the night, getting up and he was hanging for the whole day. “I’m in it for the whole day, man!”

“Dude,” I said. “You realize that we’re doing over 30 miles, right?”

“Dude,” (Apparently, we say “dude” a lot) “I walk all the time,” Paul said, incredulously. “Seriously. I’m up at 4:30 every morning. My longest is 30. I got this.”

I knew he had it. I smiled. We ate burritos courtesy of Chef Chuck, and I knew that we would all make it and would embrace the suck.

This morning, Paul and I were dutifully up at 4am, getting dressed and infusing some calories. Mostly everybody waited for me to go through my routines, and we were off to the City Park in Haw River, an hour away. We were planning to meet another fraternity from college, Brian, but we got there a little earlier than expected. Paul and I were ready to roll, so we took off walking. Dean stayed behind and dropped Brian in on the trail about a mile away.

After we left the park in Haw River, we wandered through several parks, and a few golf course fairways. Haw River is a fascinating town and I obsessed on it, perhaps a little too much.

We popped out of the woods into Glencoe Mill Village, a historic cotton mill outside of Burlington, NC. The town held a lot of history and it looked like it was coming back. The old mill houses were really cool looking. Preserved, but colorful. The remnants of its power and water center was set up on the Haw River and allowed for good views, as the river flowed Southeast.

Predictably, then we found fields and roads, and even more roads and fields….. then came the rain. It rained so hard that all conversation stopped. We couldn’t hear each other over the rain and the hoods covering our ears. The quiet was weird. Paul normally talks more than I do.

The rain stopped, the sun came out and we all whined about our blisters before it started raining again. We hobbled into Bryan Park, but it wasn’t over. Oh no. Not yet. Two more miles after we entered the park we came to a screeching halt in front of the golf course trail head. 33 miles. I’m proud of you, men!

Natty Greene’s Kitchen and Market had a high top table, mashed potatoes, a beet and black burger and an IPA waiting for me. It’s like they knew.

Paul kept asking us to rub his feet.

Mangling the beautiful sentiment of HDT, we embraced the suck; we sucked the marrow of of that nasty day. We found life in every blister-inducing step.

Grab life. I’ll hold your hand if you need me to. The blisters will heal tomorrow. Keep moving forward.




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