The Long Uphill

Day 2–July 5, 2009 (Rockville-Germantown, 9.5 miles)

I don’t know how I failed to notice, but Maryland is just one long uphill. And this morning I found out the cold hard truth about just how much weight I am lugging around. When I purchased a tent from the nice guys at Hudson Trail Outfitters in Rockville they weighed my backpack. I actually didn’t want to know but they insisted. With the addition of my recently purchased two-pound tent I am lugging around a whopping 54 pounds. I am slowly making progress but am behind my initial goal of 25 miles a day. I guess it is just not reasonable to walk 25 miles a day, uphill in the sun while carrying half my body weight. Still, I worry if I cannot pick up my pace I will run into trouble later in the trip.

Not long after I added a tent to my enormous backpack, I passed a guy who commented on its size–it is a little unexpected to see someone backpacking through Montgomery County, Maryland. When I told him why I was walking he told me that he was actually living in a local shelter. But, when I expressed my sympathy for his homelessness, he told me that his current situation was entirely the result of his actions and bad decisions. He had a job as a cartographer and had a home but when his mother died he turned to alcohol and lost everything. No one forced him to drink, he told me. Though I agree with his holding himself responsible for his actions, I have to disagree in part. There is just not enough support for our mental and emotional well-being in this country.

– By Jennifer E. Cooper