Ironically, our luck took a turn for the worse after my last blog post.
There was the thunderstorm that raged through the entire night and into the next day, soaking Taylor’s gear by 10:30 pm and leaving him cold and awake throughout the night.
Then there was post storm stream crossings, so high and impeding it took us hours to build bridges at each river before we finally gave up and just trudged through the water.
And not too much later, there was the fork in the road where we all went right heading Southwest but Taylor went left, heading far Southeast. We didn’t reconnect for almost 48 hours, at which point we had gotten the entire town of Viburnum involved and hiked twenty miles to get our car… Only to learn a day later the car was three miles from where Taylor was waiting for us.
And then there was the day where we were rained on for thirty straight hours, leaving us huddled in our shelters for fourteen hours before we finally gave in and found our way to the nearest town to dry off.
Yes, the trail hasn’t always been kind to us. However, each challenge and obstacle has been exactly what I needed out of this experience.
When we set out to do this, I feared I would hate backpacking. I sometimes struggle to succeed when faced with physical challenges, and this trip presented many opportunities to give in to any weakness within me. Despite all of the harder times though I, and everyone I am with, have managed to stay strong and have a general net positive experience. We’ve even spent sometime talking about how much we want to stay out here (don’t worry Cheryl, I am coming back to work). It’s proven to me that I can backpack, that I can succeed against physical challenges, and that I’m not as mentally weak as I think I am.
That being said, were currently faced with the hardest challenge yet. Taylor has been experiencing pain in his right leg and it’s grown worse each day. He can barely put any pressure on it and worries it’s actually injured and not just a hiker pain.
Today we made the tough decision to get off the trail early. Taylor feels terribly, but the rest of us understand that he can’t risk his health for us to finish this adventure and that it doesn’t feel right to finish it without him.
And this leaves the rest of our vacation open, very very open. Today we’ll get a ride to the last town on the map and hike 20 miles to our car. Then we plan on writing six locations we want to go to and rolling a die to see where we’ll go.
Being someone who loves a plan, and dating someone who also loves a plan, I think this part of our trip is just another added layer of growth for us. We’ve both been better then usual at letting go of our need for structure but to entirely abandon our first goal and not know what to expect out of the next two weeks is a completely different story. While this may not be what I initially signed up for, I think we’re all being continually faced with opportunities to learn about ourselves and grow as people while on this trip. Realistically, that’s the best thing I could have ever hoped for out of this experience.
And even though we didn’t complete the Ozark trail yet, we did hike almost 140 miles of it in a week and a half. To me, that’s definitely accomplishing my goal of hiking somewhere new (Goal 34) and I’m proud to have gone for it. It was an incredible experience and one that I’m sure to continue reflecting on far after we finish this trip.
I’ll continue to update my blog about our new adventures, till then enjoy my next post about all of our trail names!