The heinous push was over. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see a rustic, clapboard shelter in my life. Today shouldn’t have been possible, yet here I was, standing in the dark on a forested ridge with crickets singing around me. The last sixteen hours of walking had carried me across 34 miles of some of the roughest trail in New England. Sure, I still had 26 miles to cover the next day, but the last big test had been passed with not much to show for it but two bleeding feet, a growing disgust of Powerbars and hunks of dry pepperoni flaked with soil. I unlatched the door of the Tillotson Camp and threw my fraying pack on the stiff wooden bunk. I hung my rain gear on a hook even though I knew they wouldn’t dry before my dawn departure. The huge rip in the crotch of the pants seemed comically large, as if only a madman would consider the garment as any sort of protection against the elements. Yet, who but a madman would consider walking 280 miles in ten days as an appropriate way to spend the brief days between college graduation and a summer internship?
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