‘My bones are ringing the way sometimes people say their ears are ringing, I’m so tired.’
‘I’m waiting til the last possible second to even breathe. I’m not expanding the cage till driven by necessity of air.’
‘So tired it’s out of tired‘s word-range,’ Pemulis says. ‘Tired just doesn’t do it.’
Exhausted, shot, depleted,’ says Jim Struck, grinding at his closed eye with the heel of his hand. ‘Cashed. Totalled.’
‘Look.’ Pemulis pointing at Struck. ‘It’s trying to think.’
‘A moving thing to see.’
‘Beat. Worn the heck out.’
‘Worn the fuck-all out is more like.’
‘Wrung dry. Wacked. Tuckered out. More dead than alive.’
‘None even come close, the words.’
‘Word-inflation,’ Stice says, rubbing at his crewcut so his forehead wrinkles and clears. ‘Bigger and better. Good greater greatest totally great. Hyperbolic and hyperbolicker. Like grade-inflation.’
‘Should be so lucky,’ says Struck, who’s been on academic probation since fifteen.
Stice is from a part of southwest Kansas that might as well be Oklahoma. He makes the companies that give him clothes and gear give him all black clothes and gear, and his E.T.A. cognomen is ‘The Darkness.’
Hal raises his eyebrows at Stice and smiles. ‘Hyperbolicker?’
‘My daddy as a boy, he’d have said “tuckered out”‘ll do just fine.’
-Infinite Jest (p. 100)
Somewhere during my eighth or ninth stop for a break on the Sweat Heifer Trail, I finally found enough strength to not hate climbing for ever and ever. Carrying a backpack loaded with supplies for the night along with my heavy camera, every body part ached – except for my legs. My mantra of “SHUT UP, LEGS!” was useless, and I was lost. I could feel blisters forming, bruises on my hips from my pack, and just to top it off, a little sun burn on the back of my neck. I was only squeezing out single syllable grunts in between gasps for air, clearly spending my time in the anaerobic zone, and just from walking uphill a bit.
Granted, it was 2000 vertical feet climbed, and the trail never, not even once, dipped down or flattened out a bit to give some respite, so by the time I’d had another handful of dark chocolate covered raisins and drained my water bottle of Gatorade, it seemed like walking on clouds to finally meet up with the Appalachian Trail. Only another mile down the mostly level section of that trail, and we ended at the shelter where we’d spend the night with other through-hikers, nearly 5 hours after we started earlier that afternoon.
The next day, we hiked down. The day after we hiked to the Chimney Tops and back (~1700 ft climbed and had to scale some off-trail sheer rock faces in the process). A few easier hikes to waterfalls followed later in the week, but through the huge jump in difficult mileage and corresponding calories consumed to compensate, my body was toast. “Shredded” is the word I believe I used to describe my legs to Matt when we got out of the cold rain on Thursday evening to catch a March Madness game in Gatlinburg. Maybe “Tuckered Out” is all some need to describe the complete satisfied exhaustion from a day of physically pushing the boundaries, but I like the fresh hyperbole. Be ridiculous, I say.