Total Miles: 788.5
Near Rautoive – August 3, 2016
I stand at a bend of trail and stare up into the mountains. I take a few steps off the path, then stop. I look back at the smooth, worn route stretching off into the distance. I stare up at the mountains again. I take a few more steps and stop again. I hesitate. I’m unsure.
The past days are bleeding into each other. They are a mosaic of rain and sunlight, moments of peace and low struggle. Their lines smear together. The passes, the mountains, the lakes, the rivers all smudge along the edges. I can barely tell where one ends and another begins.
I think of the three people I met earlier in the day, a man and two women. We were all struggling across a rough trail in the rain, but when I met them, the sun broke through, the trail found itself, and they showed me a map of their route.
He pointed to a swath of wild area to the south. Twenty miles of cross-country that they were headed towards, that I could cross too, if I wanted, instead of following the trail. I wasn’t sure then and I’m still not sure.
I stare back at the trail again and then back at the wild in front of me. I don’t want to make a mistake. I don’t have the food to lose a day wandering if I can’t make it through.
I think of the days bleeding together and start walking into the unmarked land. The trail disappears behind me. My mind sharpens on the ridge ahead, the curve of the valley, the stream ahead and where I want to cross, a boulder to point towards, distinct pieces I link together as I rise away.
“Today will not bleed,” I say.