Weather: Showers & Sunshine alternating.
Distance: 59.5k total, 39k (4:21h) in 6:40mpk, +20.5k (4:07h) walking
Accommodation: Warm Showers (Ralph + family)
Issues: Left fore-foot, tendon in front of tibia. Cracked open Heal.
Note: 5 days running in a row.
It is a chilly morning. My breath condensates and I am happily wearing my down jacket. Meditation happens inside the tent. By the time I finish, the day is breaking. I am still using my head torch though, as it remains gloomy amongst the trees. I pack up everything, drag the card out of the bush onto the road. It is still freaking cold – could have used gloves, but I refuse.
My mind is set to get a 60km day covered, broken down into basically 3legs. So let’s tackle the first half marathon. I start moving. Mist gathers in the valleys. That’s what you see from afar. As soon as you approach the fog disappears though. The sun is slowly rising, casting cones of light through the branches of evergreens trees. Dark & light, sewed together by a blanket of mist. It is a magnificent fall morning. With every step I raise my body temperature a bit. Other creatures along the way have left there temperature for ever – the roadkill today: little snakes, a dear and a rakoon. This poor guy is literally dying, when I pass by. His fur gently moving up and down, while his last breath wis still going through his little body. Despite the tragedy he looks so peaceful, rolled up tightly, ready to go. It looks like I see more dead wildlife, than actual wildlife. Very sad.
I have my breakfast break at a little gas station. No one around. The waitress comes rushing from the washroom, still in the process of getting dressed – weird. I get a banana to complement my granola, fill my water bottles and enjoy my meal outside, watching traffic, the people – in short the rural scenery. It is still uncomfortably cold. Before I leave I walk forward to the highway. There he is again, the cyclist I met yesterday, shortly before arriving in Amanda Park. He is coming down the hill in his shiny bright yellow jacket, on a folding bike pulling something that looks like a hard case on two tiny wheels. Ascending with this kind of setup, does not look very trust worthy. Neither does he look very comfortable in doing so, slightly shaky. He does not respond to me happy hello, as I was delighted to see him again. He must have different plans, as passes the gas station without a stop. I have a sense he wants to avoid me. Anyhow. As I take off I see him 500m farther down, alongside the road checking his phone. He takes off before I reach him.
20min later I pass a little grocery store, in front of it my man. I do not bother him, keep running. He has to pass me on the road again later, unless he prefers to adapt to my pace. Let’s see what happens. It takes a while, but sure enough, eventually he appears, slows down and we get to talk. He is on his way to San Francisco. Timeframe 10 days. Not sure if that is going to work out with a daily mileage of 120k. He was probably talking about miles. Hopefully he got that right. In any case, I appreciate the brief conversation and we wish each other good luck. I can see him for a very long time, as we are on a very long straight stretch, that goes on forever. He is slowly moving away from me, his rear light finally completely disappearing.
The landscape is sort of dull. Just farmed tree groves with signages indicating the years of harvest & replantation. Moderate traffic, either tourists, means gigantic RVs, or local people, who work in the logging industry, driving their oversized trucks, lastly and in reliable sequence logging trucks with their freshly cut tree trunks. If those trucks are unloaded, they carry their trailer piggyback. Overall I feel fairly safe in the road. I am using the shoulder, staying as far to the right as possible. And still vehicles usually do a big turn, to en erase the clearance to me. This move is always noticeable as I can hear the tires rattling over the midsection, which got grooves to it. On rainy days, or when it just rained before, this manoeuvre would also cause a steam cloud dragged behind, covering me in spray of water, dirt and in case of logging trucks in fresh smell of cedar oils. Which in fact is an appreciated stimulation of my senses.
At the end of a downhill section, at km36 I pull over end have a break. I take my lunch, get my feet out of my shoes and slip into my flip flops, having a seat on my yoga block. While I am munching away I realize that my left foot is swollen. The swelling is right behind the toes in the mid centre region. I had pain in that part of the foot before. I am not really concerned. Still, I recognize that the simple motion of walking is not pain free. I write an email to my brother who’s partner had just given birth to his second son. Congratulations. Life continues wherever you are, whatever you do.
When I resume running my stride is not as natural as it used to be before. It is apparent, that I struggle to find the right foot placing for my left foot. Never the less, all issues I encountered along the way so far, came and went – hopefully this one as well. Not this one though, it worsens. The pain went up my shinbone. It slowly dawns on me, that this is not going away by neglecting it. At km 39 I give in, stop running, swap to walking. I am disappointed, my mind is racing. Is this it? Did I screw it up? I remain calm, reaffirming myself, that I did everything right. It will be just a matter of time to make the inflamed tendon heal.
Just half an hour into the walk I see a car turning around, driving towards me, slowing down, pulling down the windows. The driver says something about California and I am thinking ‘Yeah, correct. That’s where I am heading!’ It turns it to be Daniel and Susan from Fresno, a wonderfully charming couple that had given me accommodation a year ago, when I finished my epic bike trip to 4 national parks in the US. And here again, randomly, on the open road we meet again. It was great cheers for me, we hugged and I felt blessed. I even forgot about me foot for a moment. On the other hand I felt little disingenuous, as I did not mention my current situation. It was an ambivalent moment, contrasted in the space between joy & pain. What was this?
Eventually I reach Hoquiam, the first city that blends with the adjacent Aberdeen, my destination for tonight. A car drives by, pulls over, parks. The driver gets out and starts walking. At first I did not realize, just sort of wondering why he parks his car so far away from his home, as he keeps walking in front of me. I slowly catch up with him. When I approach him I see, that he is carrying a canister. He must have ran out of gas. That is what I ask him. He confirms. Apparently he ran out of money as well. I ask him how much he needs? 5 bucks. I give him 10. We walk together, having a conversation. He is wondering why nobody gave me a ride on my way down from Vancouver. Not sure if he understands, that I am doing this on purpose, voluntarily. Well, he is not the only one. We reach the gas station. Before we depart I give him a tap on his shoulder and sincerely wish him good luck. His name is Tim.
My walk leads me into town. Dreariness to either side. Every second house is unoccupied, rotting away. The only person I met, is an old man, wearing rags, barely any teeth left. I spare a minute to give the attention he so seemingly needs. I have a hard time to understand him. I am pretty sure he lives in one of those weathered houses, forgotten by his relatives. As I depart I feel sorry and think by myself, that I should have stayed with him. Instead I am determined to make it to my first warm showers place on this journey. The neighbourhood changes just two blocks away, as I am searching for the right address. I am toasted, done for today, just want a hot shower & sleep! Yet I do not want to be disrespectful and go upstairs to Ralph and his two little kids. He is very welcoming, makes me pasta. After having heard about my foot, he even gets me a hot bath with salt for my beaten up feet. Thank you, this is heavenly.