Anywhere from 10 to 20 miles per day, each time I head out for anywhere from a day to a week.
Sometimes it is hot: it's been summer, and as you may have noticed it's been something of a hottie; the National Weather Service in Raleigh at one point tweeted that the asphalt temperature was 145 degrees, and I've walked an awful lot of asphalt. I'd find the tweet for you, but did I mention? I'm tired so screw it.
It has gone down to 10 degrees (my water bottle froze in my sleeping bag) and rained enough to make whoever invented Gore-tex just want to apologize for the whole thing, since high-tech rain gear or not I was slick down to the skin.
This has been going on almost a year and I am just beat; beat to hell. Add in that since my hiking shoes wore out and I replaced them, in the last couple weeks I have developed blisters here and there -- blisters the approximate size and shape of the state of Delaware.
I whine to you thus because as I set out for my last walk today I feel far less excitement about the culmination of this long trail than pure gut weariness. That seemed important to share. I've been thrilled to meet people, learn from descendants of Lawson's hosts, spend time among the pines and oaks, seeing creeks and deer and snakes and turtles and herons, walking beneath the grasses and grasshoppers and the vaulting sky. I've felt fortunate and thrilled and happy and challenged and I've been having enough fun that I'm embarrassed about it, but I'm also just so tired.
Naturally there's lots more to say. I spent last evening with the very delightful Vince Bellis, professor emeritus of botany at East Carolina University. As something of a retirement project, in the late 1990s, as the 300th anniversary of Lawson's journey approached, Bellis became a Lawsonian. Already interested in Lawson's botanical contribution, Bellis got to wondering about where Lawson ended -- where, that is, lived this Richard Smith, at whose settlement Lawson dropped his pack.
Though for context, Vince started our conversation thus: "Lawson disappears after Hillsborough." That is, after Lawson's visit to the Occanneechi village, of whose location we are quite certain, Lawson's descriptions become vague, his directions far less certain than they were previously, and his locations by and large a matter of pure speculation. Even the falls of Wee Quo Whom, which I visited a couple treks ago, turn out to be far less certainly where we thought they were, raising only the next in a never-ending series of questions about where the hell I am and where the hell Lawson was. This is how it is when you try to get directions from a guy who last visited the area 315 years ago. I know where he ended, though, and that's where I'll end today. The enterprise was to go out like Lawson and see what's up, who's out there, and get the lay of the land -- so if we've been a mile or two at variance recently, that's not going to be a bother.
Especially since other elements of the description do still hang. Lawson mentions that he "went on, through many Swamps, finding, this day, the long ragged Moss on the Trees, which we had not seen for above 600 Miles," and yesterday, right on schedule, I came across Spanish Moss again. I find that kind of thrilling, just as I did last week when after reading his description
So that's the view from the Lawson Trek as I set out this morning on my final walk. Have a thought for me.