So we hiked out of the Trail into civilization. It was fairly uneventful, except for the first place we reached, a campground. David and I went into the general store and I bought a bag of potato chips and a Coke. Sweet. We went out to the porch and sat and watched the "aluminum city" campers. It was quite a homogenous group, and seemed a stark contrast to the hikers we saw on the trail. Most of these campers were older than us, wore those really bad trucker ballcaps, and sported quite the pot belly, the kind that presents the question: Over or under with the belt? Pickup trucks were a must.
The activity for the morning seemed to consist of bringing the septic system of the camper up to the disposal area. It was the strangest thing I have seen in some time. The pickup trucks lined up, one after the other, each towing their blue septic tanks like a giant Caravan of Crap. Some guys brought their families with them, as it was part of the ritual of family camping time...I suppose. Either way, in consideration of the wind, David and I were on the wrong side and were getting a "whiff of the roses" as the less efficient guys came and went with their tanks.
We were feeling almost superior when this little girl walked past David and said to her mother, "Mommy, that man stinks." It was what I call a "Let-me-get-this-straight" moment, as in "Let me get this straight: there are people over there dumping their feces in a tank, and that smell bothers you less than the way we smell?" Ouch...
I hiked on and my feet were sore, swelling, blistered. What did I learn: Four-year-old shoes might not be the best for a 35 ,mile hike.
David and I hiked out to the Deer Lodge in Mount Holly Springs, where Joan and Katie Rose picked us up. They were happy to see us, but I still didn't get a big hug. I suspect they were afraid of sticking to me. I must really smell bad...
I thought it would be a more spiritual experience than it was. I often find myself closer to God when I'm out in nature, but I think this was so much like work it never got to the point where spiritual reflection was part of it. It's not a bad thing, just unexpected.
I thought about Randy, his family and his son a lot. Those moments when I did pray, it was for their well being and healing. They continue to be on my mind, in my heart and with my prayers.
I missed Joan and Katie a lot--much more than I expected. I was only gone for two and a half days, but with no cell phone, no Internet and no smoke signals (THE STOVE[!!!] is not so good for that), the separation was palpable, difficult. I did not expect it, but it made coming together, after a shower, so much better, which I suppose is one reason we go on these things in the first place: to put into perspective how important people are, especially our families. I'm certain David felt the same way, though we didn't talk about it.
Sleep uphill. Sleeping downhill or sidehill is inadvisable. Just trust me on this one...David!
I came back to a party. It was a tough thing to do, with all of the noise: kids yelling, music playing, fireworks going off. It was a system overload after being on the silence of the trail.
Last but not least: Ice and elevate feet.