After another night of excruciating knee pain and little sleep, I changed something last night: I propped my legs up on a tree to "drain" for 20-30 min while I wrote last night's entry. It seemed to help really well, I slept pretty darn good. I even woke up bright, chipper, and perky. It stayed that way until about five minutes of hiking, when that positive energy gave way to nausea that lasted for the entire rest of the day.
I stopped for lunch and a nap after fifteen miles. If I were the only person on the trail, I might have been in and out in an hour, but between Microburst and Sweet 16 stopping to chat and eat, and Cloudkicker following ten minutes after I finally got peace and quiet, my break lasted two and a half hours in total.
The final miles of the day were brutal. My knees were killing me on the long downhills, and my feet could feel every single rock trying to indent themselves into the bruised ball of my foot through my thin and utterly thrashed running shoes. I wanted to be hiking faster, but instead I was taking short, pained, mincing steps. In my exhaustion and self-pity, I found myself sniffling my way down the final downhill, and then giving in to full-on heaving sobs.
When I got to Squaw Valley Creek, I could see Microburst and Sweet 16 waiting for me on some cliffy ledges below the trail. I took my time trying to regain composure before joining them, which held for about three seconds until 16 asked, "How's it going?" when I lost it all over again. At that point, Micro and 16 were suddenly flanking my sides, hugging me, petting my head, and generally being super-awesome friends. The cognizant part of my head that wasn't wrapped up in my feelings, giving into them, and struggling to get a hold of myself; wondered if I was putting on a show for attention. I think I was exhausted and being melodramatic, not a drama queen.
The sobbing fit spurred some important discussions, after it was decided that we'd camp at the creek rather than the originally planned four more miles to a day's full marathon.
1.) How many miles do we need to be doing to finish on time? If we take one zero day in Ashland and a quarter of a day for each resupply, we do indeed need to hike a marathon a day.
2.) What if I can't cut it? I'll probably go north to the border and hike south to Ashland, giving myself more time to race against the snow. Microburst and Sweet 16 would either stay on the original plan (they aren't struggling) or join me, depending on what they wanted to do.
3.) Am I enjoying myself? What defines enjoyment?How important is it for me to enjoy myself? Microburst can tell I'm not having fun, and it both bothers and worries her. I get enjoyment out of many of the things I do in the making and meeting goals. This is no different. If I was out here to have fun, I would have skipped all the hard/boring parts. I'm out here for the challenge. Am I really having less fun now than I was in the desert?