I'm surprised at how I haven't been more lonely on the trail, especially being such a social person. I know it sounds silly, but I try to make friends with the animals and trees around me as I hike. I've built a particular relationship with my shadow, of all things.
For the most part, we get along well. I know she better be on my right side before noon and on my left as the sun sets to the West for me to be heading in the proper direction. I miss her on cloudy days, and love her dearly when she is long and strong at dusk. There is some jealousy building up, too. I mean, I'm the one who's hiking all the miles while she gets to float along for a free ride. And no matter how close I am to the earth, she is always in between us... even at night when I lay on the ground, there is a layer of black underneath me. But we have fun together. I can make her do silly things and dance without any resistance. I hardly recognize her as myself. I'm not the same woman I used to be; in shape nor spirit. It's nice having a friend on the trail, even if that friend is a part of me.