Loneliness can be brutal, especially if your minds starts taking trips into unknown territories.
Wednesday morning I wish Dubs a safe flight. He’s flying home for a wedding and won’t be back on the trail for another five days. Mac decided to go back to the trail early in the morning, mostly to avoid spending more money in town.
I’m left alone contemplating if I want to take a day off. I have to do laundry, buy food for the next few days and absolutely no rush to get back to hiking.
I kill some time playing Pac Man at the local laundromat, waiting on my clothes to dry off.
“Damn this game is old,” I think while looking at the little yellow dot on the arcade screen. “I wonder if my parents used to enjoy playing with this thing.”
I put my clean clothes on and I keep wondering if today I’m in the mood for walking in the woods. It’s almost 1pm, the heat is unreal and my stomach is growling.
“Chinese food sounds good right now.”
I fill my stomach at the Chinese buffet for the second time in the past 12 hours and the chances of me hiking that day get close to none.
It’s almost 3pm and I’m wandering around downtown Waynesboro, more to find excuses to postpone my return on the trail than for curiosity for local attractions.
“Hey, what’s your trail name?” a guy waiting to cross the street at a traffic light asks, interrupting my analysis of the local post office’s architectural structure.
“I’m Hustler,” I respond, wondering if I really look that terrible to make people immediately think that I’m a thru-hiker.
“Nice to meet you, I’m Jacob. Do you need a ride back to the trail?”
“I don’t really want to go back today,” I think.
“Yea, sure,” I actually answer.
Jacob drops me off and reluctantly I start walking. It’s 3:30pm, I’m full and feel way too heavy.
However, for some reason I keep walking, to the point that it gets dark. And I’m still on the trail, walking.
My head decided that I had to walk 20 miles today, it didn’t matter if my body felt like shit. So I walked 20 miles, in the dark, alone.
I finally reached the shelter close to 10pm, set up my tent and went straight to sleep. The next morning, after eating breakfast and getting ready to leave I realized that for the first time I didn’t know anyone around.
Without paying too much attention of the surroundings, I then left the shelter and started hiking, alone.
Instead of engaging my mind and body, most of the times when I hike alone I start having the most random thoughts, which often take me to places that I believed a mentally stable individual could never reach.
“If a bear attacks me, should I first kick or punch?”
“If you feed eggs to a chicken, would that be considered cannibalism?”
I put on my headphones and hit the play button on my iPhone.
“How the fuck did Donatella Rettore end up on my playlist?”
I trip on a branch and abruptly regain control over my mind. I pause the music and look at the view in front of me.
“When this will be over, what…” I immediately erase that thought off my brain.
“Maybe I’ll keep walking. Mmmh, the first Italian Triple Crowner,” I think for a millisecond. “Hi, I’m Hustler, the Italian Triple Crowner. You know how many girls I could pick up with just that line?”
I erase that thought too. It’s way to early for such predictions.
I finally start walking again. The Shenandoah National Park has offered a pretty easy hike so far and only a few bears gave me a break from my loneliness. Fortunately, they’re used of seeing humans passing by so I’ve never really felt scared when I saw one.
I turn on the music again and I look around me furtively, making sure nobody is around me.
I clear my throat and I start singing at the top of my lungs, using my phone as a microphone:
“Splendido splendente, come sono affascinante, faccio cerchi con la mente…”
In Walk We Trust,
The Walking Fed