Friday, August 15, 2014

77. Sleeping Next to a River

On the day we hiked out of Hot Springs North Carolina, we didn't make it very far. At this point in our journey Shanty Town consisted only of Dumptruck, Apollo, Hotdog, Whistle, The Hunger (though at the time he was still Donny) and myself. The six of us started walking out of town and made it less than a mile. Though, earlier in the day we had slack-packed six and a half miles from the place where we'd been picked up when Whistle had the Noro Virus, so really, it was like we hiked 7.5 miles. Whatever, our legs moved, we were propelled forward in space by the force of our legs, and we were in a different physical location at the end of the day than we were at the beginning. This is all that matters.

The trail went along French Broad River, and then it came to a fork. The left fork led up the mountain, northward along the Appalachian Trail. The right fork continued another quarter of a mile along the river along a narrow path to a dead-end flat area, the perfect camping spot, with the mountain jutting up on the left, and the water rushing by on the right.

We made a decision that it was a day we needed to "hike our own hike," which in this particular instance translated to, "be very lazy and camp next to this really beautiful river."

It was the first hiking say that actually felt like spring, as literally two days previously we had been caught in the middle of a murderous ice storm that sent chunks of ice pinging off of our skulls like our heads were Plinko pegs. We had survived a month of winter conditions, and the taste and smell of the changing season was all around us. There were no leaves yet on the trees, but there was a palpable sense of nature shaking off the frost and stretching back to life.

Donny, Apollo and Dumptruck collected an excess of firewood, and we had one of the first campfires on the trail that was made for fun, instead of being made specifically to stave off hypothermia. We stayed up until the stars were winking overhead, and then all crawled into our tents to be lulled to sleep by the white noise of the perpetually moving water. Sleeping on the ground with my head mere feet from that river was one of the most comfortable sleeps I've ever had in my life because I felt safe, and because I felt the electricity of being alive.

Something about a river has always felt, to me, like the perfect representation for all nature. It is constantly changing, shifting and flowing. It follows a logical progression that can nonetheless seem chaotic and unpredictable. Water can give life and it can take it away. It can be peaceful and it can be violent, depending on the weather. They say time flows like a river, but really, a river flows like time.




Tempting fate by climbing out on a dead tree over a rushing river.

Whistle and I looking down at the river from a rock perch.

Dumptruck hiking shirtless for the first day of spring. As you do.

Love,
Clever Girl

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