I didn’t train for this. I’m no wimp when it comes to biking in the cold, but New Hampshire temps had stabilized at a frigid zero degrees Fahrenheit for the two weeks before I left town. Twenty’s my threshold for bike able weather, and so I was reading too much, sitting on my ass, not worrying too much about being able to bike far.
I was worrying about surviving in the wilderness. With the exception of an ill-fated college trip to the Smoky Mountains, I’ve never even been backpacking before. This phased me. The thought of carrying everything I needed to survive in the desert was scary. I was heading into unknown territory. Would there be scorpions roaming my tent, invisible until revealed by a sharp sting on my sole? What about the ground littered with cactus spines and thorns, ready to puncture my precious air-filled tires? There was my fear of losing my way, of going out into the wilderness and not coming back.
And looming largest of all above me, there was the fear my mother voiced for me, “sounds lonely.” 10 days in the desert could very well be. Still though, I kept pushing Tucson to the back of my mind. It’s a defense mechanism of mine. Until the change comes, it’s best not to anticipate too much.
The day before my trip comes and I can’t deny it any more. I need to pack. The physical reality sets in. Scrambling gear all over the floor, what do I need, how can I get the weight down. My sister’s hiked the AT and so she helps. I make a list and we highlight to categorize the gear (in-camp, bike maintenance, clothes, navigation, art supplies). We spend all day gathering, organizing and sorting on my bedroom floor. Pepper’s sitting with me, laying on top of the gear as I try to move it into piles, and then stuff it into my panniers. When we’re together in Gilford at our parent’s house, Mikayla and I have days like this a lot. We never put on bras, we forget what time it is, we talk and we are also silent.
I spend the night before my flight wishing I had a card for medical marijuana, something to calm my thoughts racketing around my skull, making so much noise that I can’t sleep.
Read the next post to see what happens in Tucson.