Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Calling it

One of the questions we get asked a lot is about what it's like to hike with just one other person.  Most of my long-distance hiking has taken place on the Appalachian Trail, where even as a southbounder, there we always other people around.  On the Great Eastern Trail, it's been the Bart-and-Jo show, 24/7.  Some of our friends have come to join us for a section and thankfully lots of time with Tim and Paul here in West Virginia!  It brightens our day to have company.  To folks who have hiked sections with us: for days and even weeks after you leave us, we'll still be thinking back to things you brought up. You give our brains new ideas to mull over.

So what is it like, hiking with just one other person?

In a way, it's easier: when you hike in large groups, the slowest in that group is the person who sets the pace. When one gets sick, the whole group stays behind.  I only have to worry about Bart (although that is arguably a full-time job).  I know him well enough to anticipate problems we will have (and vice-versa).  Also, by the end of this, I will have a best friend for life, because no one else will ever understand the hilarity and insanity of certain situations we've found ourselves in.  One word can set us off laughing, and wherever life leads us, we'll have to remain friends because you just had to be there.

But in a way, it's harder to hike with just one person: Especially in sections where we have to choose-our-own-adventure, this can be a pretty stressful trail.  We have only each other to discuss things with, and it can get heated.  Bart and I have very different philosophies on some aspects of hiking, and trying to make it mesh can be really challenging, and even more so because we often don't have a third party to complain to/counsel us/be a tiebreaker. 

I'm really happy with how we've been able to spend 3 months together and not kill each other.  This bodes well for the upcoming 2 months.  We've got some ground rules and we're both really good at sticking to them.  Basically, they are:
  • We connect everything by foot, even if we don't want to.
  • Either of us can "call it" - end the hiking day at any time, at any place, for any reason.
Very few times has either of us had to call it.  I called it in Georgia when our friend Ramar offered up his yard to camp in when my ankle hurt so bad.  I called it last week when my foot gave out on me after only 5 miles.  I called it a couple of times in Chattanooga when I was super sick.  And today, Bart called it.  We took yesterday off to deal with some loose ends here in Mullens, and it was a super-productive day, but some loose ends remained.  It is a beautiful day and I want to hike so badly, but I am happy that it's my turn to gracefully accept that he called it.

I won't hike today, but I will watch Sula drinking water from Bart's Camelback bitevalve:

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