I am the better man
When I look to leave her
I always stagger back again
Sunday, October 4th. Middle of the night. I climb out of my tent to pee. I am surprised that it's not actively raining, as it has been for the past six days straight. I yawn and stretch out my arms. I am so sick of being wet. My body and every bit of my gear is, at the very least, damp; most of it downright soaked. Even the air is so saturated with water that I can see the clouds of my breath in the beam of my headlamp. Every time I exhale it looks like I just took a giant pull off a cigarette. As I look to the sky (as I often do when I'm peeing as there is no toilet at which to aim), I think that, just for a second, I can see a star! Could that be possible? The clouds quickly obscure it and a gust of wind blows the cold water off the trees, causing me to shiver and race back to the tent. As I force my wet body back into my wet tent and under my wet sleeping bag, I can't help but think about what I saw. If that really was a star, then maybe the clouds are thinning. I decide it's best not to get my hopes up.
The morning is shrouded in a thick fog but at least it's not actually raining. I pack up my gear and hit the trail. I'm looking forward to visiting the famous Bear's Den Hostel. I won't be staying there but at least I'll get to warm up for a while. As I climb up and down the hills - they call this thirteen mile section of the trail 'The Rollercoaster' - I start to see faint beams of light breaking through the fog. Could it be? Oh, please let it be...
I see shadows! Finally, I see that great glowing orb trying to break through. It is indeed, at last, the sun.
Now, I'm not going to admit right here in public that I cried. I am, after all, a big, tough man. But I will say that the sense of relief, of gratitude, of sheer joy was so overwhelming that it may have stirred up my emotions.
At the top of each hill, the sunlight grew brighter and patches of dark blue sky started to peak through the thick canopy of trees. By the time I got to the hostel, it was a perfect, sunny day.
The Bear's Den Hostel sits on a beautiful piece of property with big, open lawns and park benches everywhere; perfect to spread out all my gear and let the bright sunshine and gentle breeze do their thing. It felt so good to peel off (almost all of) my clothes and just soak up the rays.
Another reason to celebrate: I had two packages waiting for me at the hostel. One was a re-supply box from my dear friend (and my bro Gary Zaborowski's mom), Pam White. She has been helping with this whole hike and this box didn't disappoint: She packed all kinds of yummy foods in there and some canister fuel, which I desperately needed (Thanks, Pam!). The other box was from fellow hiker Jeff McWilliams. He loaned me his inflatable mattress to get me up off that cold ground at night. Plus, he threw in some surprise goodies that I really appreciated (Thanks, Jeff!).
Overall, things are really looking up. Ever since I left Pennsylvania (Hmm... Coincidence?), things are getting better and better. I got to hang out with my old high school buddy, George Hughes, in Harper's Ferry, WV. He treated me to a fantastic lunch and the chance to sit and just catch up on all we'd been doing with our lives. It did my soul good to see him (Thanks, George!).
In the next few days, I'll be entering the Shenandoah National Park. As I recall, this is some of the best hiking on the whole trail as it offers gentle ups and downs, beautiful vistas and stunning fall colors. I can't wait!
To all who read this: I hope that if you've had a long streak of rain in your life (literally or figuratively) that the sun breaks through and shines upon you. Dry out your gear and hike on!