One Hundred Seventeen: 2,045.1km

Yesterday may have been borderline, but sitting here in my tent eating cold plain couscous and chewing straight into a stick of salami as if it were a banana, there’s no question: my streak of 10/10 days has come to an end.

My knee is screaming at me every time I need to step down. I’ve been stretching, I’ve upped my water intake, I already doubled my glucosamine last week when I started out from Seattle, but nothing is helping. Or maybe it all is, and I would have had this [almost] crippling pain long before now. Either way, I’m hurting.

And to be honest, my heart hurts too.

My Aunty Ros told me recently:

Joy is infectious!

She’s right, and the joy I had all week was spread to the others. I feel a little like I made it a real priority to boost everyone’s spirits as each gang member had an off day/moment and I was experiencing the opposite. I know it wasn’t like it was my responsibility to, and I don’t want to be tooting my own horn or anything, but I did do my best to be aware of how everyone was feeling, and be there to pep them up if they needed it.

Today, when I needed it, I didn’t feel anyone there to do the same for me.

Prodigal’s up there: the speck in that clearing between the trees.

The speck I can still see walking ahead of me, yet so far away.

Again, I get that it shouldn’t be the responsibility of anyone else to help with how we’re feeling. It is nice, though, when others are alongside to help and encourage and cheer on regardless.

The beauty I walked through did nothing to lift my spirits. The blue sky, the warm sun, the gentle breeze, the floating butterflies…

None of it was enough to bring my heart back to life. At this point, I have succumbed to despondency.

The torture of my knee is real.

So here I am, with my cold couscous.

I hobbled in hours after everybody else, and only Nemo was sitting outside of his tent. He seemed to sense quicksmart that something was off with me. He’s generally pretty in tune with those empathetic vibes (which is all the more reason to have been there for me today?!). As I set up my tent – which may have been a little ways away from everyone else… but the ground is flatter over here… Nemo came over to offer me his gas canister (we take turns carrying fuel, because we’re always together anyway).

I said I didn’t need it.

He said a nice hot meal might help my spirits.

I said I’m fine, and I’m happy with cold couscous.

He looked at me like I was a crazy person and backed away warily, whispering to Prodigal that I didn’t even want a hot meal.

Then the Prodigal came over, carefully, to offer pain meds to help me sleep or for tomorrow.

I told him as well that I’m fine.

Silly, stubborn, Wizard girl.

That was them reaching out.

When I got here, Nemo had cheered and told the others, then straight away apologised that no one had stayed to check on me throughout the day (which, in the moment, only served to drive home harder the thought that no one had really cared about how I was doing during the day anyway – especially if they knew I was in pain).

I’ve learned one downside to being a strong, capable female is that others might not realise I need help. Not unless I tell them, of course.

I think I’m going to leave early early tomorrow morning. They can feel guilty for a night, and we’ll hug and make up tomorrow – most likely, when they all catch me crawling down the other side of a mountain.

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