So-called Solo Part 2: Hiking the darn tent home
Part 2 of my so-called solo adventure
The tent indicated its readiness to leave by choosing that moment to start leaking, the first drop pointedly landing squarely on my forehead. The rain had been coming down steadily all night, and the waterproofing on the tent fly was way past its prime, so I was thankful it had waited until first light to let the water in.
Packing up in pouring rain would be a “good enough” endeavor, with speed coming in at primary importance over cooking breakfast. I’d eat soggy energy bars en route. All strapped in and setting off, I thought my pack seemed lighter now that my food stores were lower. Wondered briefly (before rerouting my thoughts) how quickly the rain would make everything heavier again.
Upon leaving the beach, the forest trail shifted from being a trail to being a stream. The rain and I were both looking for the easiest track! It would be a hard slog revisiting my tree root friends, and there was a bit of a time crunch if I were to make it across a beach near the end before the incoming tide would block progress for a few hours. So cautious speed was on the agenda.
But being cold and wet tends to make my brain less functional. The first time I forgot to test the mud with my pole I was rewarded with an impressive toe to thigh mudslick on one leg (eventually erased by the downpour). You may have noticed that I said that was the first time. No further comment. Another time I was so intent on moving upwards and onwards that I missed the point when the trail was joined by a runoff stream, and I continued following the runoff instead. It was a scary moment when I realized, at the top of a rise, that I had lost the trail and was UTTERLY alone. Ain’t no one else coming on this trail today, so it was up to me – I had to calmly retrace my steps until I found where the waterpaths merged. Relief flooded me and I channeled that to keep on marching.
Turns out I was wrong about no one else being on the trail because shortly after that I narrowly missed a close encounter with an unknown LARGE creature, which thankfully didn’t want to meet me either and crashed away through the tall thick undergrowth in an uphill direction.
Two times on the journey my wet tent volunteered to be left behind by slipping out of its straps. The second time, with just a kilometer or so to go, I firmly tucked it under my arm like a tantrumming toddler; if I had to keep on going then it certainly did too! But I was sorely tempted to leave it to its own devices.
AT LAST, the trail turned toward the more-exposed coastline, which meant most of the journey was behind me. At which point I discovered that the rainstorm had become an unpredicted gale. Branches were coming down and the forest was making frightening sounds. I seriously considered curling up into a ball and waiting out the storm, but getting colder would be a worse idea. I consciously focused on my destination, like a tow rope, and again was brought back to where I was by slipping and nearly smashing my face on the rocks. Decided I wasn’t above crawling. Didn’t care about salt water in my boots when I had to wade through waves to make it around the point. Lost all modesty when I reached my car and stripped out of my soaking clothes (okay, I admit, the parking lot was quite deserted so no modesty lost). Not exactly what I had in mind when I contemplated skinny dipping at the start of my adventure.
Any time you are alone in dangerous and/or discouraging circumstances you generally end up talking to yourself, and I was glad that what I had to say was encouraging and respected how freaking hard that trek was. The saying goes that misery loves company; what if we flipped that around to suggest that misery deserves loving company? In my work I spend a lot of time coaching folks who are living with chronic pain and illness, and it occurred to me how treating yourself with kindness and encouragement isn’t always easy. Especially if you are comparing yourself to how you functioned before the pain (or storm) began. Especially if the pain is there EVERY DAY and isn’t over at the end of a hike.
Humans work better, for the most part, when we are working as a team (like, um – trail detours might get caught sooner maybe?!) but sometimes you need to be your own team. How do you want to show up for yourself?
Solo adventures are awash with learning opportunities – but I think my next adventure will include other people! And hopefully be drier. With a lighter tent.