I think I’ve started to suss out why second days are so hard.
Firstly, your body starts to rebel. The first day is such a shock, it generally goes along with little comment. But the second day, it puts up a fight. My legs felt like lead; I didn’t seem to have any stamina at all. My knee was barking at me last night–it’s continued grumbling all day. I made seven miles today and wasn’t sure I’d make that. They say this weakness passes with time, but I’ve yet to see it.
Secondly, and more importantly, it’s the day when your brain starts to realize it has only itself for company. The distractions of everyday life have run out, and you remember why you immerse yourself in them—they’re far more palatable than your own thoughts. With nothing but the crunch of your boots on the path (and your groans as accompaniment) and the open sounds of breezes through branches and insects droning, your train of thought runs in directionless spirals, spinning aimlessly and unpleasantly. Trying to direct them more usefully lasts for perhaps eight minutes before the madness sets in again. My thoughts seem endlessly petty, repetitive, and (unsurprisingly) self-critical. I have been waiting upon enlightenment. I wait still.
At least the homesickness isn’t too bad: knowing I’ll see the family in a couple of weeks is a comfort that sustains.
The trail itself was pleasant enough, and I’m settled tonight at a campground with flushing toilets and showers, so it’s practically a luxury resort. (One of the conclusions I did reach in my mental gyrations today: I’m a man who likes to be clean.) I’ve got some time to relax, so ideally that may end the day well, in addition to allowing me to figure out the plan for tomorrow.
It’s not all fairy-tale shadowy forests here; there are also open hillsides overlooking vast valleys.
There hasn’t actually been much running water, which surprised me. This is Keene Creek below Hyatt Lake Reservoir.
There are still large quantities of fairy-tale forest, however.