Off Trail

7/13/15  –  Days Inn  –   6 miles

We started the morning hiking into what slowly became the biggest mass of mosquitoes I’ve ever seen. I felt I was dying a slow, painful, sweaty death. Their little needle noses were piercing every part of us. They bit thru our bug nets, shirts, and shorts. Slipping into madness I started spraying them mid-air thinking that would help.

My skin started to feel raw but I kept pushing. I pushed until we started to climb a stupid little hill and then I started to crumble. I couldn’t take the mosquitos, the constant heat, and this stupid trail. I screamed at Darwin a bunch of things that all blurred into a wail and I physically couldn’t go any further. I let myself unleash the tears into his beard.

The next thing I knew we were in a truck heading to the closest hotel. Once checked in, Darwin cranked up the A/C and pushed me towards the shower. I was covered in red swollen bumps from the mosquito’s bites. The backs of my arms were the worst having so many bites I looked swollen.

Darwin and I both agreed that it felt like the universe was shitting on us. It felt like every time we were enjoying ourselves something knocked us down. I worried about mamaw not doing well and felt guilty for the time I had spent away. Darwin was not feeling 100% either both mentally and physically. We agreed to give our life on the trail one more week. If we didn’t feel better, we would discuss leaving. This discussion seemed to help take a bit of pressure off; we had come this far surly we could make it all the way.

7/14/15  –  Days Inn Parking Lot (Off Trail)

We woke this morning with every intention of getting back on trail that is until Darwin came into breakfast almost in tears. He was able to mumble to me he had a toothache (Darwin has suffered from various tooth issues sense we have been together). He decided to hit a few Vitamin I before the cab arrived and made an ice pack. The cab arrived, we jumped in and right as the driver was pulling into the street Darwin yelled at him to stop. His pain was too severe to start hiking. He was already out of the cab leaving me to explain to the driver what was going on. Luckily, this guy was extremely nice and gave us directions to a dentist. I grabbed our packs and Darwin and we started walking.

On our way to the dentist Darwin finally dropped the bomb that he had the toothache for almost a week and it was only getting worse. He had been taking a huge amount of Vitamin I and it was no longer helping. The dentist we met with only confirmed what Darwin was feeling, an infected tooth was causing the pain and it needed to come out. The dentist told us we couldn’t have it pulled for three days. We explained our plight of time limits to no avail.

We walked back to the hotel and sat on the curb. There was no way Darwin could continue with this tooth. He had already held out for a week and it was getting progressively worse. We started talking about our options wishing someone would tell us what to do. Roub was hiking and I felt too guilty to call anyone else. We were after all, pretty dern lucky to even be out here in the first place. Our other friends and family were dealing with common life decisions. I was stuck in the middle of a fight with myself, should we stay or should we go? After three hours of walking around the parking lot, crying, and talking we both finally said it out loud, we were going home.

We had to hitch fifteen miles outside of Great Barrington, MA to get a rental car. We got a record fast hitch with a nice guy who tried to cheer us up with stories of his backpacking adventures and small talk. I couldn’t stand to talk to him to long, leaving Darwin to entertain. I felt broken and mad. Didn’t he understand what we had just decided? What we were doing? If I talked about anything but the trail it felt like I was just accepting this situation when I really hated it.

When the topic of Arcosanti came up, I couldn’t deny the signs the universe was showing me. Darwin had asked every hiker we passed about Acrosanti and every one thought he was crazy. Our hitch knew exactly what he was talking about. This guy was so generally nice he even waited for us at the rental place to make sure we got a car. I was too broken to even appreciate him.


We made it back to Indiana in a day and a half. We cried and talked the entire time in between Darwin wallowing in pain. Darwin texted all of our fellow hiker trash tramily that we were off trail. The responses trickled in but I felt cold towards them all, they were still hiking. I didn’t even care about Roub.

Our arrival back to Indiana was surreal. I immediately lost my buff I had hiked with from the beginning of the trail. Our family was glad to see us but we felt disappointed in ourselves that we were seeing them so soon. Seeing Bowie again was awful. She had gained ten pounds and would have nothing to do with us. Our non-hiking clothes felt stiff and uncomfortable.

The worst was my mamaw; she was only a shadow of the woman I had left four months earlier. I visited with her two days before she died. We were then overwhelmed with extended family. I felt trapped inside myself, everything was moving to fast, I was losing so much and yet I was numb to everything.

Darwin had his tooth removed in the midst of everything going on. I felt emotionally void. We stayed in town only a few more days after the funeral and then moved on. We were both lost. Neither feeling capable of tackling the rest of the trail in enough time to finish, we let the wind take us west.



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