Walking solo and unsupported puts one in the most vulnerable of states: you’re at the mercy of whatever weather, person, animal, situation, or vehicle comes at you. At the end of the day, my tent is the only place that I feel comfortable and safe — for the most part. Although only a couple square meters and a couple millimeters thick, this little nylon shelter provides cover from the rain, wind, sun, insects, and prying eye or eyes. After a long day of walking the trails and roadways, that foam sleeping pad and down bag within my nylon tent is where I look forward to rolling into at the end of the day: it’s my one person Nylon Inn.
Once settled within my Nylon Inn, I have become addicted to gazing at maps (paper and GPS maps) and the lines that criss-cross and intersect those small black dots scattered across the maps, some already reached, while others destined to be walked and rolled across in the near and distant future. Who will I meet? What stories and experiences will turn into adventure, or, at the very least, become just a distant memory — a memory recalled in the years ahead when waiting in line at the grocery store or some other random location.
I have noticed something in my routine this year during My Walk, one which I never looked at in depth or put much stock into last year or years past, and it plays out quite regularly. The something I am talking about occurs at the very end of my daily ritual, consisting of finding a spot to setup my Nylon Inn, looking for a place to eat (before or after I setup my tent), caching my food, then brushing my teeth and going to the washroom. Once all these post-walk activities are completed I then roll into my tent, ungraciously, then setup my bedside table for the night. Slowly the world begins to slow down as I lay in my tent and I process the day’s happenings. Almost immediately, a daze begins to roll over me and, for some reason, I fight this post-walk daze and the euphoria that follows, but I always fail.
This ‘daze’ I talk about is a little addicting, a biochemical drug that has gripped me and is very addicting. Maybe it is nothing but a post-runners high after my brain has been awash with a cocktail of hormones? However, I rarely feel this euphoric sensation in the midst of my vigour: isn’t that how this biochemical process supposed to proceed? Unfortunately, I only experience this addicting sensation afterwards.
This post-exercise euphoria of tiredness is what I am addicted to. For all the struggles, frustrations, uncomfortableness, and periodic wantings of luxury and ease, this end-of-the-day state makes it all worth it.
After some reflection I recall one of the first times I experienced this euphoric state: it was a 30 km winter trail run in the Foothills of Alberta. It was a cold, snowy, and uncomfortable winter runs, you know, the ones you try to find an excuse to skip because of some domestic errand or task that needs to be completed. Anyway, this was my first memory and quite possibly my first hit from the endurance pipe that I will never forget, and will likely continue to seek to this day. I remember the onset with such clarity; it was late afternoon and I was exhausted, sore, and proud of how I ran that day. Time seemed to slow down, but at the same time the hours drifted over me as I sat on my couch in such a lethargic and dazed state: I was high as kite and forever addicted when it was all over.