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Dana Warren Solo Hike 2015

The Second Half

The Outfitters - Saturday, August 01, 2015

The second half of this journey has been a tad cold and grey. The cooler temps are excellent for walking but they dampen the spirit.Ever since the half way mark my feet have been in excellent shape but my heart has been a little heavier. I feel exposed, a little more vulnerable, although there is spirit in every day nonetheless.

A couple of nights ago I spent the night at Notre Dame Provincial Park. A normally filled to capacity park was almost empty at 8 degrees and overcast skies. In the threat of impending weather, I set up my tent after 18 km (a shortish day for me). I passed the late afternoon walking the park loop, collecting wood, and looking at the lives of the few families around me. A walkabout keeps me occupied and out of my head and a fire always makes me feel warm and fuzzy.

Supper was freeze dried spicy bean chili. I love the 'just add water' thing especially when fuel weighs so much and the food is ready fast and is very tasty. Its most definitely a far cry from the military mush of years gone by. I washed up and popped down to the ranger station to pick up my fully charged iphone. I usually go to bed when the sun sets so after a visit with Gemma Hickey's support team (that's a whole other small world story replete with gifts of bananas, bread and beef jerky), I turned in. I wanted to rise early and get ahead of the rain. At the end of the night, headlamp on, I always gather my bits and double check: air-horn, whistle, glasses, flashlight, boots/toilet paper by the door, phone in the pouch. It was a particularly cold night and waking up at 3am (or whatever the pitch black of night is) to pee was arduous enough without searching for things. 

At the crack of dawn I rose to make coffee and break camp. It was better (and warmer) to be walking. At the last moment before setting out I couldn't find my GPS. "Odd", I thought. I took everything out of the pack and I still couldn't locate it. I stuffed the pack again and got underway without it.

The trail is fairly straightforward and I knew my walk to Appleton was clear and easy, BUT I was impacted. "Where the hell is that?". I began to panic a little about further down the line, what would it feel like around Alexander Bay and Maccles Lake without the GPS? I missed that little thing even though I couldn't use it properly. In times of absolute alone I would take it out and see exactly where I was in the world. I found myself catastrophizing. I created a bad turn, a missed exit, a disaster, but mostly I hated the idea of not seeing the little blue triangle that was me. I tried to counter the negative by telling myself I'd stuffed it somewhere but I couldn't find it in my mental inventory. I continued to fret in the recesses of my mind.

Before I curled up in the camper trailer bed of The Richards family that night, I once again emptied the entire bag. No sign. Now I got irritated and called myself names. I was successfully brewing self doubt and it really started to play havoc with my psyche. I had trouble settling down. I was trying to problem solve with no luck. I awoke with a crink in my neck. Gander was 23 km away. I set out early and made great time. I arrived at the location of the head office of the Newfoundland Trailway Council and met my wonderful host/office manager, Betty Hollett and executive director Terry Morrison. The day got away from me. It was good to chat and unload with people who knew what I was doing out there but still niggling in the back of my mind was that friggin GPS.

Thursday I woke to pouring rain. No walk, but instead an opportunity to figure out logistics and do laundry. I dumped the bag again, round three. This time I was going to do a full forensics and unpack the sleeping bag and the tent. I had to be sure. The down bag expanded upon release from the compression bag. No GPS. As I was tucking it back into the stuff sack I felt a square lump in the hood - there it was! I kissed it. Anthropomorphising a plastic box. My little heart went thump and my spirit showed up again, a little bruised, perhaps a little weary but I felt a smile inside, my sense of security returned.

It brought me comfort and I didn't realize to what extent until it wasn't there. SO not unlike SPOT, GPS is now a part of the family I can't imagine doing without.

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I had a similar thing when walking across a country a while ago - I had a fear of losing my spoon. Never mind all the other dangers and fears, for some reason this fear of not having a spoon became fixated in my head. Although like you Dana there was no real threat to my safety, it became a big burden on my mind!!!
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