It’s 2:15 a.m. My wife’s portable alarm clock sounds. The noise is like a submarine dive alarm. I am awake. I am drinking coffee made from the hotel coffee maker which tastes like boiled jockstrap water. We are doing the Trailblaze Challenge hike today.
I keep telling myself, “We’re doing this for C.C.”
3:03 a.m.—We are in a van with 13 other half-asleep Trailblazer hikers. We are driving to the trailhead where we will walk for 26.3 miles for the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Alabama, an organization that changes the lives of kids with critical illnesses.
My friend C.C. received a wish when he was a kid. He met Peyton Manning. His sister and caregiver is Paige, and she is our dear friend. They are why I’m here.
Namely, because I am not an athlete. I am more of a Little Debbie enthusiast.
4:49 a.m.—Now we’re at the trailhead. “Yay! We’re here!” shouts one perky hiker. It’s early. Many of the other hikers want to punch this hiker in the mouth.
5:12 a.m.—Rational people are at home right now, nestled in their
feather beds. We are now hiking the far flung Pinhoti Trail, miles from human civilization. You could die from an infected blood blister out here.
“This is for C.C.,” my wife keeps saying with each step. “For C.C.”
5:31 a.m.—Our hiking pace is akin to refugees marching to a Russian gulag to be executed. It’s tar black outside, we’re wearing coal-miner headlamps. Someone in our group starts singing to lighten the mood. This person will never be seen or heard from again.
6:45 a.m.—We are not 3 miles in. We still have 23 miles to go. Sunrise on the mountain is nothing short of heaven-like. There is a hiker pooping just off the trail. I can see the perpetual whiteness of this hiker’s cheeks.
“This is for C.C.”
7:33 a.m.—I’m talking with a hiker who knows a kid who…