As the layers of dust thickened on my skin, the days in the desert passed by, my stripped-back, simple existence all merging into a strange passing of time. I finally had the thinking space I had always imagined the trail would give me. It didn’t come in calm moments of enlightenment or new-found wisdom, but stemmed from pure boredom. Although I was relishing the challenge and felt endless gratitude for the landscapes that rolled before me, there was no denying that hiking was monotonous. Plodding forward hour after hour, day after day, with loneliness and isolation becoming more constant, hiking swung from wonderfully exhilarating to tediously bland. I was grateful to have Gil with me, not for safety as most people assumed, but for companionship. Still, our conversations dried up and we found ourselves spending more time hiking apart, each of us at our own pace, looking for ways to occupy our minds. I yearned for the distraction of a busy coffee shop or the crowds of London, a peoplewatcher’s paradise.