Day 3 – Stewartstown to Colebrook cont.
Both of us had been warned about protecting our skin using sun screen while on our walk and while we both carried tubes of sunscreen, until now, we hadn’t really had a reason to use any. There had been shade and clouds.
But because we were so relentless exposed to the hot, hot, cloudless sun on this day, I began to feel a certain stinging heat emanating from my skin above and beyond that incurred by the (record) heat wave. I could tell that certain parts of my body normally not exposed to the sun were getting burned.
It doesn’t take long.
I looked over at Griffin, he was doing fine. But he was also wearing mens’ clothing. His shorts came down to just above his knees and his sleeves almost to his elbows.
I on the other hand had shorts that stopped midway on my thighs and lovely pink delicate capped sleeves that barely covered my shoulders. What had also escaped my attention then, but certainly got it later in the evening when I took a shower, was the “V neck” on my sport’s shirt which although proving a “stunning neckline” also allowed my neck and chest to get burned.
It had never occurred to me that there would be such a difference in clothing between the men and women. Women literally sacrificed comfort for style while men had both comfort and protection. Men’s thighs and upper arms didn’t get burned. They didn’t get dark red “Vs” going down their chests.
Why hadn’t I ever noticed this? In hind sight it seemed a little silly.
Something was going to have to change and I had a feeling it was going to have to be my clothes. I made a mental list of things I wanted Trevor to bring with him when he drove up tomorrow. Long athletic shorts and a men’s shirt were placed at the top.
Even with the terrific heat, Griffin and I were slowly making progress. We kept a steady pace and were careful about constantly drinking water. Two liters of water may sound like a lot, but when you are sweating it out almost as fast as you can put it in, you soon realize that it is not nearly enough water when there is a (record) heat wave.
At all times, Griffin and I each carried 2 liter water bottles. At one of our mile breaks we drank from our water supply. One bottle was empty and we were already halfway through the other one.
“What happens if we run out of water?” Griffin asked me recapping his bottle.
I thought back to the evening before when I had asked a stranger for help getting us to the motel. I was not above asking for more help along the way if we needed it and I told Griffin as much.
Across the street was a red farm – beautifully taken care of and as pretty as a postcard.
“In fact, I should go over to that farm right now and ask them if we can fill our bottles with water.”
Griffin blanched, his stranger –danger training once again kicking into high gear. “We have half a bottle each left, let’s just wait until we really need it.”
I shrugged. It would have been easy to simply knock on the door, but in a way Griffin was right, if we got more water now, it would be extra weight that we’d have to carry. And already we were carrying too much on our backs.
We packed up our water and carried on – the sun now almost directly overhead.
There are so many things we did wrong on our walk, so many things I’ve kicked myself about and walking by that farm without stopping for water was one of the biggest that stands out. There is no doubt in my mind they would have filled our bottles, heck, they probably would have invited us into their gingham curtained kitchen for a glass of cold lemonade.
Cold lemonade – if I had enough moisture in my mouth I would have salivated at the thought.
As it turned out, that farm was the last house we saw. No one else lived in those parts. We were walking on a road which shouldered a mountain on one side and dropped off to a valley on the other. You’d have to be crazy to set up a home there.
Or try to walk it without water.
You can go for a long time without food, but you can’t, especially during a heatwave – while walking on a road out in the sun, go long without water.
Things were getting desperate. I had thoughts of people finding us days from now, desiccated travelers who hadn’t asked for water when we could.
Having found a little bit of internet service near the top of the mountain, I tweeted and put on Facebook a plea for water. I knew that some people were following our journey online and hoped against hope that maybe a friend of a friend knew a friend…
Griffin wasn’t concerned. “We’ll be fine,” he kept telling me.
Between the two of us we had a quarter bottle of water left with absolutely no end in sight. “Just take a sip,” I cautioned Griffin at our next mile break, “we have to make it last.” It was starting to feel like one of those Bear Grylls survival stories – thoughts of eventually drinking our urine crossed my mind. This, I didn’t tell Griffin.
It is the job of a mother to protect her children, to care for them and to provide for their needs. Water was a pretty big need. I wasn’t doing such a great job at mothering.
We had seen trail magic already on our walk. Becky, who went above and beyond taking care of us on the first day when we couldn’t walk another step and Debbie, who drove us to our hotel when we had gotten lost.
And now, unbelievably as we turned a bend, we saw a sign for a New Hampshire Welcome Center only 1 mile away. It was a mirage, it was luck, it was trail magic again – it was all of the above.
Because where there is a welcome there is water.
There are 13 welcome centers throughout New Hampshire. Each center provides restroom facilities and tourism literature. Several centers also provide food and drink vending machines.
This one provided picnic tables, rest rooms, those beautiful, beautiful vending machines, and water. Plenty of fresh, cold water.
Never have I ever been so happy to see a state run facility. I don’t know who thought it would be a good idea to put a Welcome Center in the middle of nowhere, but I send them my eternal thanks.
Griffin and I commandeered a picnic table in the shade and spread out a feast of a lunch. It was time of celebration – the walking Gods had saved us again. We ate granola bars, dried fruit, and some of the “emergency fudge.” I also ate the last of my raw dead cow (glad to be done with that) and we washed it all down with juice from the vending machines and bottles of water. Surely this was the best meal ever.
“Mom, you have to stop saying that about every meal we eat.” Griffin said, rolling his eyes at my pronouncement.
“But it’s true!”
Not being in any rush to move on, we took off our shoes and socks to rest and air our feet.
“Hey, look at that” Griffin said, twisting his foot sideways to get a better view. “I’ve got a blister.”
(Here’s some information on why we took this trip.)
Wendy Thomas writes about the lessons learned while raising children and chickens in New Hampshire. Contact her at Wendy@SimpleThrift.com
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