Bruce Trail: Mom’s Reflections Part 2

Oh my! What a difference a few weeks make!

While I started out strong in those early weeks, as time went by, I stupidly took in too little water and electrolytes, and slowly began to weaken on the trail. I didn’t see this coming, and it wasn’t until I noticed that I was no longer sweating that I realized that there was an issue. Just as I was figuring that out and getting myself properly hydrated, I mistakenly double dosed on Advil, which I’d been taking to help me sleep and to ease the consistent knee pain that had developed early on. Too little water and the double dose resulted in my becoming lethargic over the next few days on the trail, and in the days being very long and very, very difficult. Up to then, though I was tired and achy at the end of each day, I had always been ready to get back on the trail as each new day broke.

As if all that wasn’t enough, along with an increasing number of toe blisters due to wet boots, and a lactic acid build up in my upper legs, we hit Beaver Valley where the hills were brutal one day, and absolutely relentless the next. Not realizing that this would be the case, we had planned relatively long days that, in the heat, almost broke me. There was a point, as I staggered along, semi-delusional, when I was not sure if I would/could make it the distance. Through this period, I said very little to Elisha about what was going on for me, and simply soldiered on.

My reflections and feelings began to center around the fact that I have always been the rock in my family. Whether my family of origin, the family I created, or the intimate relationships I’ve been part of, it has always been me who held it all together or, in any case, was seen to be holding it all together. Now, all of a sudden, with incredibly beautiful rock formations all around me, I was not the rock; not even close. I was only just holding myself together. As things sat, the future was not looking at all secure as far as me finishing what we’d started. While I certainly didn’t want to disappoint Elisha, I didn’t want to risk my health either, so what to do. In the moment, I simple opted to continue to put one foot in front of the other, do what I could to get my strength back, and wait to see what was to come.

Needing and asking for certain kinds of help is fairly foreign to me. I tend to view myself as low maintenance and am proud of the fact. With so many things seemingly working to weaken me, none of them big issues, in and of themselves, it became necessary to ask for and receive support. My worldview has it that nothing is without meaning. In this case, I believe I was being, quite literally, “brought to my knees,” to remind me that being the ‘weak’ one, the high maintenance one, on occasion, (and even with my children) is ok; about not needing to be ‘the rock’ 100% of the time; that we are here to serve each other, and that it really is about both giving and allowing yourself to receive.

With these revelations, I was more willing to let Elisha know that I had been quietly suffering, and that I was finding it difficult to continue to put that one foot in front of the other, day after day. She stepped up with unquestioning support as I worked to build back my strength in the ensuing days. The man in my life, sitting back in Montana, sending angel support and offering extremely thoughtful and useful suggestions had been amazing, as well. His support and cheer leading, along with that of friends back home, became essential, and has been very much appreciated.

I had wondered in my first ‘reflections’ post that, with the first third of this epic adventure seeming to me to be about me doing the (unnecessary) mothering of my adult daughter, would the second part be about us both taking on a more ‘equal’ role. In fact, after Day 12, when I had my psychological breakthrough, and eased off the mothering of necessity, things did work out that way. Our day to day became more companionable. That changed once again, when, on the physical plane, as of Day 26, Elisha began easily outpacing me up the hills for the first time. Since that point, the lead on the inclines has been hers, as I have, sometimes at crawl speed, pulled up the rear. From that point, she became the one to do the motivating, providing the positive vibes that kept us going.

The surroundings and incredible views continued to be breathtaking, the people we met continued to sustain us, and we were making memories as we went. The best part of the day, for both of us I think, continued to be when we spied Flo, knowing that it was almost time for boots off and feet dunked in water and Epsom salts. – Flo, by the way, is the name of my faithful van, for which I am also immensely grateful.

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