The sun is peeking over the horizon, shedding a warm morning glow over the idyllic grounds of the Woods Hole Hostel. The quiet of the morning is a stark change from the busy place I encountered when I limped up the drive a little after 6 o’clock yesterday evening, ready for a break six days after getting back on the trail.
I put ten hours of hiking and 17 miles behind me, arriving just in time for a quick shower before dinner. Father’s Day weekend was winding down and the hostel was abuzz with the chatter of tired thru-hikers seeking respite and optimistic section hikers getting ready to hit the trail. My feet were hurting and I could barely stand for the “circle of happiness” – a moment of gratitude shared as a group before we all chowed down on a delicious meal of organic, homegrown salad, pesto pasta, and homemade ice cream.
I always enjoy hearing the stories of other hikers. Where are you from? What brings you here? How far are you hiking? The answers can be fascinating, and eating dinner family style is a great way to spark conversation. Sadly, I was beat and my tired feet drew me to bed. I needed rest, and I couldn’t wait for the zero day ahead.
The morning light crept into a window in the loft where I slept at about 5:30, and by 6 a.m. I was up. Someone beat me to the hammock on the porch, so I wandered the grounds watching the morning activities of ducks, goats, and hummingbirds as the sun edged its way over the horizon. “This is even better than sleeping in!” I thought.
Today is a zero day – no miles for me – and I have time to reflect on my tough week on the trail. I started hiking Tuesday after five days off to travel home for a family celebration. I assumed I’d jump back into trail life with ease, but I was wrong. The last six days were the most difficult for me so far: a mental and emotional challenge as well as a physical one.
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