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Field, Willey, and Tom... A Patience Tester.

I'm a strange mixture of feisty and exhausted these days... And I am starting to freak out a little. I'm also very lucky that the job I have now (after switching jobs how many times??) allows me to have Fridays off pretty regularly. So, I treated myself to a quiet hike or at least my fingers were crossed that the vacation crowd was not too much today and I'd get a quiet hike. I was not disappointed. Making it to the Highland Center in good time, We made our way across the field to the Crawford Depot and across the tracks. All the while I was fiddling with my camera because it was having focus issues. I cleaned it... That didn't help. I put it away and decided to use my phone... But I can't let go of a challenge to fix something (probably why I do the work I do). So I keep fiddling up the A to Z trail which is in great shape down low. Playing with the zoom which is clear when zoomed in but blurry when normal. Hmmm. What will I do for the LT? I can't use my phone for that... Eventually, the camera works out it's issues good enough for the day. Isis and I are walking up the A to Z trail making our way over the mostly dry trail to the first water crossing which is dry boot rock hoppable. As we continue, there is some mud before the next water crossing but it's not deep and you can avoid it well. The second crossing is my favorite... It's low and easy to cross as well. Isis and I take a break and I adjust a few things on my monster pack. I'm carrying everything except my weeks worth of LT food and testing weight with the 2 person tent. It seems pretty good now but I will judge when the elevation really kicks in. It's such quiet day, I can hear all my thoughts.... 

We decide at the junction of the Avalon Trail to head up that way to Field first (as if Isis has a say in the decision). That way, I'll just have a bunch of down trail to deal with rather than some ups. With the heavy pack, I am fine dealing with rocks to hop and climb on. Things feel really good but it is getting hot and I am drinking a lot of water. Isis has also run out of streams to drink from as there is really no sources for dogs from the last water crossing up to Field. The tree cover is doing what I wanted it to do... Provide cool shade for us because I think I will sweat myself right out of my beast pack today. I don't do good in heat. I'm great in winter and mid to late fall as well a early Spring... These days, I take it slow... And it kills me. I'm stuck in the ground level mentality of gotta get there and back as quick as we can... I wish I could move past this because it brings out another not so pleasant feeling... Anxiety and eventually grumpy sets in. This is when I take a break, eat and check myself. Isis does the same. We continue with a mile to go to Mt. Field... Intense Up trail... Well, intenseish.... I'm clumsy so, the rocks and roots of the season always pose a unique trail experience. It's still hot so, there is plenty of stopping and starting and a lot of positive talking to get myself to Mt. Field.

I settle in on the summit for a rest. Again, taking my time I am determined to sit and eat and recoup from the climb. I break out a tuna packet while some are milling around... Inhaled it and sat for a while. Isis waits patiently for her food as she now eats after me and knows her place in this pack. No more temper tantrums like from our half Pemi a few weeks back. The day is just beautiful and we have a nice chat with an older couple who's out to do Field and Tom. They enquire about the big pack and I tell them of my training. They are impressed... My mind still thinks I'm crazy. They head to Tom and we grab some quiet as well as some Gray Jay time... They don't land though because Isis might eat them. I get ready to head over to Willey on the Willey Range Trail. Again, it's dry with plenty of ups, downs, rocks, roots, a few slide like areas and intermittent shade and sun. The blow downs have been cleaned up but the trail is still narrow in places. The trail is basically empty until we get close to the summit... There is a crowd eating lunch at the look out. I squeeze to look at the view... Washington looks good today but not for me. I'm happy where I am. Isis and I head back to the summit cairn after answering a few questions about what lies on the other side of Field... Seems people underestimate the ladders and the steepness of this end of the trail to Mt. Willey. Quietly, Isis and I enjoy some food then we get ready to head to Mount Tom by way of Mount Field and the Willey Range trail... Heading back the way we came.

I decided to charge my phone using my solar panel set up on my pack and it works really well even in  the intermittent sun. Although I know that it's gone off a few times in the shade, I am pleased and can work with it. We make good time heading back to Mount Field and spend little time there... I'm starting to get that itch to be back at the car because I am really hot. The trail remains in great shape and from here on out is mostly down. Rocks to contend with but they are manageable. Just uneven footing to look out for. I'm trying to manage my grumpy self again as we make it to the Mount Tom spur and the A to Z trail again. I decide to not drop my pack in the name of training... Or torture. it's .6 to Mount Tom on easy grades and good trails. It's getting a little late but I sit and relax on he summit. Isis also chills out. I want to be rested to get back to the car. I eat and Isis eats and I do note the difference as I am prone to not doing this. When I am feeling ready, we head down and it's tedious because maybe I am overly caution and not wanting to fall. Or maybe I'm tired and have sloppy feet. Isis is raring to go which provides a test of my patience. We need to work on pacing. Back at the entrance to the spur, I rest... My feet hurt because I need to mange my callus'... My feet are hiking feet. They are not pretty perfect feet. I am rough on them. When I am ready again, I begin making my way back to the car.

It's a long journey back to the car and I didn't expect the reality checks along the way. But of course, this is how the trail goes. It teaches you about yourself and dishes out a dose of your own medicine if you are not careful and that means tears sometimes. Isis finally get's a water crossing and drinks the cold water rather than the water from my bladder which warms from my over heated self. She's better but I am just decompensating... It's hot and I want a coffee (hot blueberry hazelnut oddly enough). It's really just a sign that I'm looking forward to my homeward bound rituals. I ran out of water before I even reached the junction of the A to Z and Avalon trails. So, this is how I know it's been a work out... I carry a 3L water bladder and I never go through it all on this loop hike. I heard voices coming down the Avalon trail and decide to push on. It's not long to the car now and I know that the trail is easy from here on out. I skip the Cascade loop (again)... I really need to visit this one but I'm focused on getting off my feet right now. I manage to evade the crowd behind me and as we pop out but the train tracks, I spy something in the lot by the Depot... As we move closer, I smile. It's at least a familiar vehicle... Too bad we missed each other. It would have been nice to see a familiar face. I thought about putting Isis in his open jeep but played it safe... She's filthy anyway. I'm happy to be down and almost home. The day was a success and a test at the same time... One I feel I passed and failed. I've been so conflicted lately, I am not surprised.

I have one hike left to train on before I leave from my Long Trail trip on August 8th... I have no clue what it will be but I am thinking that It should be something simple and easy. As I move closer to the time I actually hit the LT, my mind races, and like I say at work... I'm ACTUALLY going to go through with this? This is happening? And my team laughs at me and reminds me how powerful I am. I go through two feelings lately... One is to run away on the trails and the other is to stay in bed... It's such a conflicting thought process in my mind. Either way, this is happening... I'll let the details unfold as naturally as possible... As I quietly freak out. <3

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