As I mentioned. I finished. Exhausted. Sore. And satisfied.
A friend of mine, Mark Wirt, a capable Ironman in his own right (and for years the fastest man in his age group for the one mile), asked if I planned as much this time as the first time, his assumption being, once you’ve done it, you rely on muscle memory. And he was right. The first crossing I literally spent hours a week in planning, going over maps, double checking my kit list and arranging logistics. This time, not so much.
But I have to say the second crossing, aside from the route selected, was harder than the first. Because this time I knew what to expect.
Last year it was all new. Most unexpected and it was expected I had to persevere. Which I did. This year, I knew what was coming. I knew the back pain, I knew the rain was going to be an omnipotent partner. I knew what I was getting myself into. Last year it was blind bravado that got me through. This year it was blind determination. More than one TGOC’r has said it is all a mind game.
Anyhow, last night was the reception dinner for all who finished this year, over 250. Some had a smaller dinner the night before and some the night after. But this was the big one.
Dinner was at 19:30 and by 18:30 the place was packed with zippers, Velcro, man-made materials and the only cotton worn, were the t-shirts celebrating the 2017 crossing.
Russ, the ever charming gentleman he is, congratulating those who have done this a dozen times.
There were toasts and stories and the acknowledgement that this is a singular club you cannot buy your way into. You earn it by hiking. Simple as that.
It’s hard to describe the feeling of bonhomie, a feeling of being a part of a family you never knew existed. As I’ve said before, a Jet amongst Jets. A singular amongst a host of singulars.
Humphrey, whom I believe is on his 20+ or so crossing and may very well have been conceived on the trail, pulled together a band that played exceptionally well: They were quite wonderful. Humphrey in white.
Well, that’s about it. The crossing is done and I am melancholy. As I said earlier, the first was perhaps a tad bit more rewarding, having done it. The second, more difficult in that I knew it wasn’t a cake walk. But did it, I did.
So, a final update on my feet:As you can see, a couple nails are good to go. Last year, I lost seven, this year it looks like five. The big toenail on my left foot is already flapping, which is okay. I’m thinking I can keep breath mints stored under there. Let me know if you need a throat freshener. I have them. I’d show you the bottoms but again, I don’t want to put you off venison.
That’s it. Melancholy. But happy. Ready to come home.
But what? Wait! Fuck! I’m starting to think about next year. Lord, have mercy.
Thus ending the sermon.
(I’m ready for that orange juice in the dining room.)