5 Things Not to do in Your First Week
1. Don’t Have a Long Travel Itinerary
We started our flip-flop with an extremely long commute: Victoria-Vancouver, via ferry at 2100, on April 23rd; Vancouver-Calgary, via air at 0600, on the 24th; Calgary to New York, via air at 0900, on the 24th; then, New York to Washington D.C, via air at 0900, on the 25th… Or so we thought. Little did we know, the last leg of our trip would be foiled by our sleep deprived state, and result in us frantically catching a train. Initially, I thought the savings would be worth it, and the long layover would allow us to catch some sightseeing in New York (which was mostly true), but it resulted in us missing our boarding call while waiting at the gate. Consequently, we had to frantically find an alternative, economical, way of getting to D.C., which ended up being a train. All-in-all, we eventually arrived in Harpers Ferry 48 hours after our departure both sleep deprived and down an unexpected 400 USD.
Shout out to my amazing parents for helping us through our panicked travel rearrangements!
2. DON’T Forget to Check When the ATC Opens
Hurry-up-and-wait was the theme to our first day on trail. We woke up in Harpers Ferry at 0700, bright and early, in order to grab our first supply box from the post office, and our hiker tags from the ATC as soon as possible. As planned, the post office had our parcel waiting for us at 0800. Unfortunately, the ATC didn’t open until 1000, which meant we waited outside for about an hour and a half before we could tag up, get our picture taken, and our hiker numbers registered. Had we double checked business hours, the morning might have unfolded differently.
3. DON’T Overestimate Your Abilities.
You’ll read this everywhere: take it easy to start. I honestly thought I was… Day 1 we planned 10 miles, got to our shelter by 1500, and decided to go the extra 5 miles to the next shelter. The next day we planned 15, and ended up doing 20 for the same reason. By day 6 we had traveled 105 miles at what felt like a brisk, but comfortable, pace and my knees started to retaliate. Now, I find myself battling early signs of patellar tendonitis, for what seems like no reason. Go slow.
4. DON’T Space Out!
Keeping your head in the game is sometimes easier said than done. On day 5, life felt good, and we were hopping through the Pennsylvania rocks with ease… Until I made one wrong step. My ankle noped right out of there, I heard a pop and fell over. I sprained my ankle already… Luckily, it wasn’t severe! after a small rest on the trail, I was able to essentially walk it off with some ankle mobility issues, and bruising as evidence.
5. Don’t Underestimate Your Own Power
Despite a sprained ankle, some IT band issues and patellar pain, my mind and body are still on this trail to stay. Slowing down and being mindful has allowed me to stay on trail and engage in active recovery. Injury doesn’t mean its over. Taking smaller strides, being mindful of your feet, stopping for stretches, and “walking it off” all seem to be promoting mobility, circulation, and muscle growth in the places I need. My knees already feel far better than they did 3 days ago, and optimism has kept me from resigning and calling it a day. You can do it….
Oh, also, all I could think about on days 3 and 4 were mashed potatoes… Upon arriving at the shelter on day 4, there was a hiker-can with instant mashed potatoes. That’s right. I manifested potatoes.
Bonus goat thoughts:
1. The grass is always greener… After it rains.
2. Looking up at the trail ahead is worth the trip.
-a Mountain Goat named Sprite
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