Camp: My CDT mile 1037.5
Elevation at camp: 10900 feet
Today I spent a lot of time thinking about how hard it is to obtain absolute solitude. I have been on the trail for 73 days and have had only one 36 hour period where I didn’t encounter a single person. I truly want to feel isolated out here, and had that impression of this trail, but it hasn’t happened yet. In fact, as we are currently sharing tread with the Colorado Trail, there are a LOT of people on trail. I think I counted 54 today, but I last track. It’s a lot of people.
I really don’t like a crowded trail, it annoys me. Since it is currently inevitable, I did some deep soul searching on what my problem is with people on trail. It really shouldn’t bother me as much as it does…but it interrupts my flow of walking and thought.
About 90% of the people you pass will attempt some trite small talk like asking, “how are you?” When they never wait for an answer. Some go further, asking more questions about hiking, and my favorites say, “good morning,” or ,”hello,” and go about their day. The thing is, if I stopped and talked to even 50% of the people I pass, I would lose miles off of my day. It just isn’t possible. Instead, we attempt this weird version of small talk where no one is really listening to the other and I don’t like it. I get paid to have those conversations in the real world, this is my escape. I would love very much to spread a blanket next to the trail and have a cup of tea with every hiker, but I wouldn’t make it to Canada. I think this is how trail angels come along, because the best way to have a thru hiker stop and have a conversation is to offer something we need: food, cold beverages, showers, laundry, a place to stay, rides. Otherwise, we have a lot of walking to do each day…it is definitely not personal.
The funny thing ends up being that I would probably love to talk with all of these people. I would love to find out where they have been, where they are going, who they are. These are my people after all. It is kind of a contradiction of who some of us are to try and be social while doing a non-social activity. I come here seeking solitude. I do my best thinking when I’m alone, and I crave days of uninterrupted thoughts…it is just so hard to come by.
Anyhow, that’s what I thought about as I crossed the paths of so many people. I tried to have as sincere an interaction as possible with most, politely moving on as I needed to do. It rained for a couple of hours today as well, I had a gentleman tell me I must be a CDT hiker because I was wearing shorts and carrying an umbrella. All of the CT hikers were in rain gear from head to toe! I would be sweating up so much of a storm in that much gear, there would be another weather system happening. I have pants if the temperature gets too low, but I am way more comfortable in shorts…as long as I keep moving! I stayed dry, warm and content all day.
It was a good day and I have a really cool campsite in the forest. It is starting to rain buckets now, I think I’ll listen to the thunder as I go to sleep.
Dinner: knorr Spanish rice with refried beans, corn and cheese.