Ten Days on the Trail
Now that I’ve been walking the trail for ten days and have crossed the 100 mile mark, I thought I’d post my initial impressions of life on the AT:
Hiking is tough
I knew hiking the AT would be difficult, but I thought it would have more to do with living in the woods for six months away from all my creature comforts. I didn’t expect the actual hiking to be as demanding as it is. Granted I did not start in great shape, but the physical demands of thru-hiking the AT are not to be underestimated. And I understand it only gets tougher.
Self-sufficiency is a must
If there’s one thing that is absolutely required out here on the trail it is self-sufficiency. There is no one to make you get out of bed in the morning; there’s no one to make sure you packed everything up; there’s no one to help you carry your 30 pound pack up a 600 foot climb. You can’t order pizza to be delivered if you don’t feel like cooking or buy a bottle of water if you don’t feel like filtering stream water. You must motivate yourself to keep doing your daily activities and keep walking the miles. And that’s what makes it so rewarding when you get to the top of a mountain or cross a state border.
There’s no TV in the woods
Without Netflix or YouTube cat videos, you have to find new forms of entertainment. Campfires are referred to as “hiker TV”; discussing gear purchases is a daily event; and watching people try to successfully throw a bear bag is always fun (food bags must be hung from a tree at night to keep out of reach of bears and rodents). I’ve also received knot tying lessons (I’ll tie an Alpine Butterfly on anything whether it needs it or not). Another fun activity is thinking up trail names for fellow hikers (hikers give each other trail names by which they are identified throughout the hike). We dubbed one young hiker “Bear Boot” after numerous failed attempts to throw a bear bag rope over a tree branch by using a hiking boot (It was funny. Trust me.)
Weather be crazy
In just the past ten days, the trail has been freezing cold and extremely hot. We’ve awoken to bright sunshine, torrential downpours, extreme winds, and snow.
This past week it rained for two days and nights in a row. Hiking and camping in the rain literally dampens one’s spirits, but you can’t let it get it you down. As Eckhart Tolle says in A New Earth, “You might say ‘What a dreadful day,’ without realizing that the cold, the wind, and the rain…are not dreadful. They are as they are. What is dreadful is your reaction, your inner resistance to it.” There’s a saying I’ve heard on the AT a few times, “No pain, no rain, no Maine.” It’s going to rain quite a bit on this journey and it will not be fun when it does, but eventually the sun will return and the beauty of the trail will emerge.
Don’t mess with Carsoni’s trail mix
There are a lot of people out here
I knew a lot of other crazy people like me try to hike the AT every year, but I had no idea just how many people would be at each campsite. It really feels like a little AT community; albeit one with weird names and lots of B.O.
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