Day 25

I decided to take two days off in hopes of resting my feet enough that I can continue without a longer break. My parents are coming to visit tomorrow and treat me to the Peaks of Otter Lodge, a destination that we came to on a family vacation when I was about 8. My tasks today and tomorrow are to remedy my feet with cold soaks and write blog posts. I talked my way into a shuttle from the Wattstull Inn to the Peaks of Otter Campground for a night of solo camping while I wait for my parents to arrive.

It’s June 1st today. The 5th anniversary of the death of my incredible friend William Lindley. He’s a big reason I’m out here. He completed 800 miles of the AT in 2010. His hiking style was meandering and leisurely as he took time to form deep connections with other hikers and explore places along the trail. I miss him everyday. I wanted to be high on some mountain top today remembering his courageous spirit. A pond-side view will have to suffice. I also thought a lot about his many friends and family missing him today. It was a solitary day with really only one direct interaction with the waitress at lunch. I know William would have made fast friends with the folks fishing along the edge of the pond, asking them lots of interesting questions. I wish I could be like William. I heard a Jason Isbell song coming from the overhead speakers in the gift shop, “Are you livin’ the life you choose, are you livin’ the life that chose you…” I’d like to think that was William asking me another imperative question as he often did while we were living together. I was thankful and I was sad. I returned to my campsite an hour before sundown to cook my dinner and get ready for bed. There were several groups of campers around with mountain bikes attached to their SUVs and hammocks hanging from the trees. They kept looking over at me, probably trying to figure out why I didn’t have a car or a cooler or companions? I crawled into my tent as the sky was turning burnt orange, put my ear plugs in and closed my eyes. I did a good job at not walking much today but my feet still hurt.

William “Fields” Lindley on the left on the AT in Maine 2010 with his hiker friend Fred “Backgammon” from Germany
photo by Ben Benvie