Behind schedule, dead batteries and signs of hypothermia

Day 5
Walking began at 8:49 a.m.


I tried several times yesterday to send messages but the cold and wet environment was thwarting my efforts with the cell phone. It is waterproof but rain on the touch screen causes it to do weird things. The rain was much heavier than the 2 previous days and the wind had picked up. My gear had not fully dried since I left the blockhouse and I was feeling it in my bones. As I sat by a gas station talking with Kimberly on the phone the shivering increased to the point I couldn’t stop.

Being behind schedule and deciding to stay on Hwy 58 left me in the town of Jonesville, VA, with no predetermined camping spot as it got dark. Around me is suburbia with homes and businesses and few options. I pushed it hard to make up miles and allowed myself to get too cold so the early signs of hypothermia crept in. It sucks to say this, but I had to make another adjustment to reach my goal and I checked into a motel for the night. I warmed up, dried my gear and headed out this morning in low spirits because of a small failure but my goal will still be met. Drier weather is coming and my Kentucky route has many more camping options.
Walk on,

On a larger mural In Downtown Jonesboro, VA.  Very profound Mr. Still Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

On a larger mural In Downtown Jonesboro, VA. Very profound Mr. Still
Photo Credit: Curtis Penix

2 Replies to “Behind schedule, dead batteries and signs of hypothermia”

  1. Carla

    Nick and I are keeping you in our prayers! We’re so proud of you for taking on this adventure. Stay warm and take care!

  2. Penix Post author

    (Email message received at 1:38 p.m.)

    It hurts my heart to think that you have labeled as a “failure” doing what was needed in the circumstance that was presented to you. I highly respect what you are doing, and I know you are holding yourself to your own set of values and “rules” that you carefully considered before you started. Your dedication to your goal is admirable, but it is the lessons you are learning along the way that teach and feed all of us. In the spirit of my respect and admiration for what you are doing, I offer the following reflections:
    1. Joshua was 25 years younger than you are today. We might not want to admit that makes a difference smile emoticon, but it does.
    2. Joshua would not have been traveling alone on this path. He would have been moving in a group and that group would most likely have had pack horses carrying provisions. Those of us who have reached out to you are trying to be that “group” to you, even though we are not walking beside you. Joshua would probably have had a single bedroll, a possibles bag, a powder horn, a shot bag, and a rifle. The weight was much lighter and it was distributed differently. He had to be able to run if needed. Your pack is large, cumbersome, and difficult to lift. It, in effect, adds thirty to thirty-five pounds to your own body weight.
    3. The labor for the group in which he was traveling was probably divided: scouts, hunters for daily meat, those who prepared the campsite, cooks, etc. You are trying to do all of that by yourself.
    4. The diet to which you have limited yourself is very different from the diet you are accustomed to. Your body has to accommodate itself to a drastic change like that, and even though you are using high protein foods, your metabolism has to be impacted tremendously by this sudden change in what you are taking in. Your insulin levels are probably haywire by now. The things you are eating were probably kept for those times when there was no game readily available. I am convinced that Boone and his men did not make it the whole way to Boonesborough without having fresh meat or fish cooked over a fire from time to time. Do you believe that Joshua would have turned down the offer of shelter or a hot meal had it been offered to him?
    So please try not to be so hard on yourself. You have already taught us many valuable lessons through your efforts.
    1. We can be as much in a Wilderness in the middle of suburbia as we are in a mountainside forest.
    2. We need each other to survive.
    3. We cannot live in other times. We have to live and move and survive in the circumstances and times we have been given. Each “wilderness” has its own challenges and requires its own responses. We cannot necessarily respond to today’s challenges with yesterday’s answers.
    4. The Trail was often crowded with as many folks headed back as there were folks headed forward. I don’t think of those folks as failures. They learned their own answers to their own questions, and in some cases, the best answer was to go back.
    Thank you for giving us the opportunity to re-think all these things. You’re making this trip for all of us. My only word of unasked-for advice: Accept the gifts as well as the challenges you are given. I believe Joshua would have done the same thing. I know he is proud of you.
    So are we! Prayers for safe travels!
    See you down the Trail. Walk on!!
    Joan Boyd Short


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