For the first time in my adult life, I was disinterested in trail food! It always tastes like a chef poured their heart and soul into it when you eat it on the trail. But the lunch I packed for myself may as well have been chalk with a side of mould. I lost interest after the first bite, and rationalized any further attempts at eating with the perennial favorite, “I don’t need it anyways”. At least I was distracted from how exhausted I felt when it was suggested that someone in the group take out their campstove and light it. After the attempt didn’t go so well (I won’t say failed, because it really wasn’t a complete bomb), thoughts turned to the trail back to where we came.
I remember the thought process in my mind. I still had no idea the damage that was being done in my skull, with no outward signs whatsoever. Whenever I’ve been faced with any huge task and either didn’t actually have an option to get out of it or didn’t give myself that option, I’ve always done this. It’s like the slow winding up sound of a big engine droning to life. It’s like the calling to all corners of my mind and very being, saying “we shall never surrender!” In total Winston Churchill fashion. All the extra bits of personal fibre are roused from their slumber and called to action. I “mustered”. And it wasn’t so bad. Besides, there was no need to think anything was wrong. Like the Black Knight on the bridge in Monty Pythons Holy Grail, I had had worse.
The hike back was quite straight forward. In fact, I was proud of myself for having less trouble with the downhill grade than my chaperone partner. He had suffered an injury a few years back and needed to be cautious on his feet. His devastating physical injury was one of those very noticeable from the outside injuries. It took a long time for him to heal, and involved major surgical work. He had stumbled on a previous hike, so I understood why he was being cautious. Still, I would have beat him back to the parking lot if it would have been a race. By now, it seemed like I had gotten my wind back, and I was even finding an old familiar pace. Nothing was wrong except that I was out of shape, and that made me very tired.