Day 9 – Lincoln to Campton (continued)
We walked by acres and acres of Christmas tree farms (yes Virginia, there are Christmas tree farms) young green spuds of potential, lined up in orderly rows, patiently waiting to be adopted by a family for the holidays.
We saw white birches gently swaying over river banks, water so clear we could see grey and silver fish swimming, and Rosehip bushes their swollen buds ready for picking.
Interesting note – rosehips berries have more vitamin C than oranges do. If you’re ever stuck in the woods for a long time and are concerned about scurvy, pop a few of the berries into your tea or even in your soup and you’ll be fine.
We passed an old man who with his cane was struggling to get up his step driveway to his mailbox. Bent legs, bent back, he looked like he’d fall over with each step.
“Boy,” he yelled when he saw Griffin walking by “Get my mail. Get my newspaper.”
Griffin went over to his mailbox got the mail and newspaper and brought it to him halfway down the driveway.
“Here you go,” said Griffin. The man looked at Griffin, took the mail and mumbled something that didn’t quite make sense. That’s when we realized that he was probably deaf, as well as old, as well as arthritic.
Imagine the guts and fortitude it takes to get up each morning, knowing that you have to a climb a small but at times insurmountable mountain each day just to get your mail and then going out and doing it.
I wanted to be sure the man was okay, I wanted to help him back to his house, leave knowing that he was safe, but he waved us on, gnats in the wind. It wasn’t for us to intrude on his independence.
We waved back and walked on.
By late morning, we had made good progress but our feet were sore. We needed a break to give them a rest and let them cool down. This typically meant finding a shady spot and then taking our shoes and socks off.
As we were looking for a safe spot to stop, we heard a honk and saw a car pull up on the opposite side of the road. Both the driver and the passenger got out of the car. Turned out it was a friend of mine, Bunny who had a cabin nearby. She had been following our walk through my infrequent online updates and wanted to join us for a few miles.
Bunny had figured she had the time to walk a good 3 – 4 miles.
Glad for the company, her husband took our packs and Bunny told him to go drive ahead and wait for us. Griffin and I proceeded to walk with Bunny.
There is a big difference between fresh legs and legs that had already put in a good days’ walk even before before noon. While our conversation with Bunny kept us occupied, (so what’s happening on the political front?) there was no denying that our feet were struggling to keep up with the pace.
Bunny has lots of stories. She told us one about a camper who was attacked by a bear because of a candy bar in his backpack that the bear had smelled.
“Wait,” said Griffin. “You mean they can smell food through the backpack?” I knew he was thinking about his opened stick of beef jerky. Once frightened by a bear, forever alert.
She told us about hiking with her family and having to sit down while she had an asthma attack. Her family only knew about it when they finally turned around to hike back home.
“They didn’t follow the slowest hiker rule,” whispered Griffin.
We walked and talked. We should have taken a break earlier, I thought to myself wondering if Griffin was in as much foot pain as I was.
And still we walked at a brisk clip. Because 3-4 miles an hour isn’t that tough, right?
“He should be right around this corner,” said Bunny of her husband with the car about an hour after we had started.
Neither was he around the next corner.
I was limping. I could see that Griffin with his now 4 blisters was also limping. As the mother, as an adult, I had to do something.
“Bunny, we have to stop,” I told her. We had come to a guardrail. Griffin and I leaned against the rail a desperate attempt at taking pressure off our feet.
“That’s okay,” she said, checking her phone.” He was right up the road.”
Sure enough we saw his car coming toward us.
Griffin looked at me. I looked at him. We both sighed the sigh of impending relief.
“We have some sandwiches, do you want them?” Bunny asked us as she opened the truck to get out packs out and put her trekking poles away.
We hadn’t passed any restaurants or stores and it didn’t look like there were any coming up soon.
“Sure” I told her, trying not to sound too desperate.
Bunny got out some Subway sandwiches wrapped in their distinctive plastic bags and some grapes and handed them to me. I hope you like ham and Italian, she said.
Honestly, the sandwiches could have been filled with raw eggs and at that point we still would have eaten them.
We talked a little bit more about our plans for the rest of the walk. It was time for them to leave. “Thanks for letting me walk with you,” she said as she got into the car, waved and then she and her husband drove away.
When I was young, my father used to tell us kids the story about one day while at work he was eating lunch relaxed and resting his insulated steel toe work boots on a wood stove to warm his feet. Apparently the insulation in his shoes held back the heat until it failed and of course, when insulation fails, there is nothing there to keep back the heat. My father always had us laughing at his description of throwing down his sandwich and wildly hopping around, his feet burning, while he tried to unlace his shoes to get them off as fast as he could.
As soon as Bunny’s car was out of sight, Griffin and I limped to the other side of the road where a clearing lay and we could lie down. In silent yet frantic synchronicity, both of us whipped open our laces and in one movement took off our shoes and socks exposing our skin to the air. Hot throbbing blistered feet released from their confines.
“Oh. My. God” we both moaned, massaging our feet and rolling around on the grass from the pain.
We looked at each other and that’s when we started laughing. What must passerby’s think of us? Exhaustion and the realization that we were the ones who had done this to ourselves sent us far over the edge.
We laughed and laughed and then hysterically laughed some more.
That day the term “fresh legs” became a dirty word in our dictionary. We decided that maybe having people join in on our walk might just not be the best thing. Sure the company and conversation had been great, but at what cost?
But fresh legs or not, our friend Bunny left us with flavorful, filling sandwiches and cold grapes which we devoured with gusto between our giggling fits.
(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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