Day 10 Campton to Ashland
The incessant beeping was not part of my dream. It was the alarm letting us know it was 6:00 A.M. – time to get up.
I gingerly stood bracing myself against the wall expecting my feet to be so tender they wouldn’t hold me up. Having a chronic illness means forever being disappointed with your body and what it can do and I had been bitterly disappointed last night wondering if we should end the trip, the pain level reaching a new level that indicated damage.
But come the morning, we both discovered that we didn’t hurt as much. We could walk.
The day in front of us was doable.
Having a chronic illness also means that you are continually amazed at what your body can do.
Never a dull day.
“When this is all over, I’m going to sleep late for a whole week,” grumbled Griffin as we started our early morning routine. His bed was covered with bandages, tape, moleskin, and a pair of scissors. I sat on my bed rubbing HikeGoo on my feet.
At the end of the day we were supposed to meet up with some town officials from Ashland. Arrangements had been made for one person in the town to put us up for the night – weary travelers at the Inn.
“Do you know this person?” asked Griffin as I told him the plans.
“Nope, but I’ve communicated through email to a friend of hers.”
“Do you know that friend?”
“No, but she seemed nice.”
Griffin muttered something about “here we go again with Misery” as he opened the bandages for his feet. I clearly was the risk taker of the two of us.
The rains were on the way out, and when we hit the road, we saw clouds hanging low in the valleys and even a few rain spouts that like a dream slowly disappeared the longer we we stared at them.
We were starting to see more houses and businesses. We weren’t particularly hungry, we had picked at our leftovers for breakfast, but at the first gas station we came upon we ordered bacon and cheese bagel sandwiches. Surprising ourselves, we gobbled them down and washed it all down with cold lemonade – although we were now officially heading into the southern part of the state where there would be more people and more commerce, we still weren’t going to take our chances.
We got food when we could.
And it was a good thing we did. Because even when you are south of the White Mountains, there’s still a lot of undeveloped land. For much of our hike we walked alongside the Connecticut river. It was the same river that had filled the Connecticut lakes we had seen on our first day and which had kept us company for much of our walk.
Rivers up north move quickly. The water tumbles over rocks leaving them worn and smooth. And the water is clear. Clear enough for us to stand on a bridge look down and clearly see fish swimming.
Marc and I have raised our kids in a house that sits opposite a waterfall. It’s a beautiful place, but it’s also dangerous. Since we had moved there 3 people had died in the fall’s treacherous waters and several people had been injured jumping into a basin where large submerged rocks hid.
Marc and I were both swimmers, and as a direct result of the falls, all of our kids not only learned how to swim, but they swan on competitive teams. None of my kids were ever going to be victims of water.
I looked at the river alongside the road Griffin and I were traveling and all I wanted to do was swim in it. I had been born in the sight of Connecticut beaches and swimming in water was as comfortable to me as breathing air. The river was cool, clear and had the crisp organic smell of a healthy river.
If wishes could come true.
But we couldn’t swim. Not only did we not have time, but I had sent my bathing suit home with Marc at his last visit. Mooning people on Route 93 was enough – I wasn’t going to chance going skinny dipping.
Because there was an abundance of water, the flora by the side of the road was lush. We smelled the wild grapes before we saw them – sweetness carried on a breeze, the still young green orbs hiding behind iridescent-green broad leaves.
We walked by one of New Hampshire’s historic covered bridges, built as a way to protect travelers as they crossed over the river to get to the other side.
We passed a bright yellow sign warning us that we were at a “Horse Crossing.”
The road undulated in front of us and with every step we were met with vines and brush reclaiming the land from which they had been cut back -we’ll show you. We saw a bridge of green vines wrapped around electrical wires above us, slowly traveling across the road by way of above.
We walked in shade and when we took breaks we sat in shade. It was a far cry from the exposed roads cut alongside the blasted sides of mountains. The roads we were on now were shaded, they welcomed us when we walked and when we rested.
Even though the extreme pain from the previous day had let up, we still needed that Motrin. Without fail we took the tablets every 4 hours (6 if we thought we could get away with it) Eating granola bars to put food in our stomachs, we downed our pills (3 for Griffin, 2 for me) with water from our bottles.
At one stop, with my legs stretched out in front of me, I took inventory of my body. My right knee hurt but the knee brace helped. My left knee had begun hurting and I decided that when we got to a pharmacy (whenever that would be) I’d buy another brace for it.
We had taken off our shoes to let our feet breath. Picking up my shoes, I looked at the soles. I’m a heel striker which means that when I take a step, I hit the heel of my foot first and then roll onto the base of my foot. Sure enough the tread on my shoes (my new shoes) was starting to wear on the back outside of each shoe. I also noticed that the webbing of the toe area on top was slightly stretched out. Good for me, I thought as I sat back, the reason I don’t have any blisters is because my shoe is allowing my foot to move instead of keeping it in one position.
Griffin on the other hand was up to 5 blisters. When I had looked at his feet this morning, he pointed out each blister, no longer alarmed at them, but instead seemed rather pleased if not proud at the number.
Look at how badass I am.
Some of his blisters were huge, easily the size of half dollars.
We had had an ongoing discussion about his popping the blisters, I thought he should pop, drain, and then use antibiotic ointment on them. But Griffin had looked up blister care on the internet at the hotel and it had cautioned anyone who had a compromised immune system (which Griffin did due to medication he was taking) should NOT pop their blisters.
I certainly wasn’t going to argue with that.
Our break was over, we put our shoes back on – Blister Man and Motivational Mom -and we continued on our way.
(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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