We set up camp right by the river. My rainfly took some time to put up and it is still a mild source of annoyance-- I will just need more practice.
I slept much better in my hammock than the shelter a few weeks ago. It feels better on my joints and I prefer having my head and feet elevated when I sleep. An added plus was sleeping that close to the running water-- absolutely beautiful and peaceful.
I woke up around 7 and started a fire. Aviator and I packed up our sites and sat for breakfast. Eating/preparing breakfast is one my favorite parts of backpacking. Aviator shared some of her coffee with me because the brand of instant coffee I got had sugar and cream already in it...little disappointing when I am a black coffee drinker.
We did the days hike mainly by ourselves. I liked having Aviator ahead of me. I liked going at my own pace, only hearing my footsteps, not feeling embarrassed that I'm breathing heavily. It was my first time really "hiking my own hike" and not worrying about another person. I loved that Aviator knew she could leave me.
When I got to the summit, I found Aviator sitting on the ground, leaning against her pack. She looked at peace, face tilted towards the sky, smiling, with her aviator glasses on. I feel so lucky to have her as my mentor and friend. She is truly guiding me through this experience. Her stories, knowledge, and physical presence fuel my motivation. I have no fears when I am with her.
Right now, I am happy, warm, and thankful for my sore joints and muscles-- for those 14 miles and every single step that has gotten me to this point.