April 2011. Tornadoes ripped through central Mississippi, chewing up forests. Homes. Even whole towns. As I walked through forests yesterday, still decimated almost three years later, I thought back on my second week of walking the Trace.

I never thought anything could be this hard.

It wasn’t enough that the adrenalin from my big start was long gone. That Dad and I were back to our usual patterns of bickering and complaining. That my pinky toes looked like they took a trip through a meat grinder. That I got diarrhea less than two miles into a day and had to go next to a tree, where I ran out of toilet paper and had to spend the remaining thirteen miles smelling like shit.

On top of all that awfulness, I got my period. (As my male readers put their fingers in their ears and chant la-la-la-la-I-am-not-hearing-this.)

I spent two days crying. Two more days fighting off a raging migraine. I was dizzy, and the road tilted sideways as I leaned my pounding head into 30-mile-an-hour gusts of wind. I stopped next to a mile marker—I don’t remember which one—texted MTM and announced that I was quitting.

He didn’t answer. He was in a meeting.

Sobbing, I pressed on.

And, once I had my major meltdown, in the midst of my tears, I came upon a field of wild daffodils. The sun made their yellow heads twinkle and nod. I stumbled into that field, stripped off my backpack, and stretched out with Spring.

When I walked out of that field, I wasn’t the same.

As I strolled past miles of destroyed timber yesterday, I focused on resilience. The trees that soared above the destruction. Those that were chopped off mid-shaft but still sported foliage.

I hope I can be one of those trees.

Click here to see the best photos from Day 15 of my Natchez Trace walk: Andra Watkins Tumblr

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