I am racing the sun.
It’s the end of another 20 mile day in New Jersey. I hike the last mile to the shelter in the growing darkness. It’s been nearly 4 months and 1400 miles, but the darkness of the woods still makes me uneasy. I listen to a podcast to distract myself from the looming trees.
I spot the blue blazes to the shelter and sigh in relief. In 5 minutes, my tent is set and I’m ready for bed. I head to the bear box with my food bag, open the latch and discover… treasure??Someone has left soda, cookies and chips for thru-hikers.
Sounds of joy escape my lips.
It always comes when you least expect it.
Trail magic isn’t about the food. It’s the thought that someone carried this out here. It’s that someone is thinking about me. It’s knowing that we aren’t forgotten and someone cares.
Trail magic makes everything better.
New Jersey has been beautiful, flat, and chilly. However, New Jersey has also been hard in ways I wasn’t expecting. In this section, the trail passes so close to civilization. Yesterday, I ate breakfast in Unionville, NY and dinner in Vernon, NJ. The trail passes near a lakeside beach at a state park. It’s Friday and families are enjoying a picnic and couples are cuddling on towels.
To me, that’s harder than anything else.
The terrain is easy, but it’s hard to catch these fleeting glimpses of civilization.
I try to push thoughts out of my brain. Yes, I’ll cuddle on a towel on the beach again. Yes, I’ll have a picnic in the sun again. Yes, I’ll play catch with a dog again.
That day is not today. Or tomorrow. Or anytime soon.
To tell you the truth, I can’t wait until Vermont.
I can’t wait until the wilderness again.