Day 18: Solitude

East B Hill Road to Speck Pond Shelter – 15 miles

It’s been two and a half weeks now and I still haven’t met any other southbounders to walk with. I’ve caught up with a few, but promptly passed them and never saw them again. The past two nights I even camped alone.

In the beginning I worried being alone would feel lonely, but I’m growing to like the solitude. Like many new experiences, the fear of trying something new was much worse than actually doing it.

About a week ago a tree branch bit my headphones cord in two. Since then I’ve been walking in silence, without music or stories to occupy my mind. By this point there are surprisingly few thoughts in my head, except for the frequent cursing as I tiptoe through this rooty, rocky, muddy obstacle course.

When an idea flits into my mind on occasion, I try to catch it and write it down before it gets away. Journaling helps wrangle these fleeting ideas into a coherent story and prevents my mind from burrowing too far down unproductive rabbit holes.

Some may call this silence meditation, but I’m not sure it’s that meaningful. Either way, the quiet is a welcome change from the teeth gnashing of city life and the chaos of working in an understaffed and overwhelmed emergency department.

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