10 Things I Love to Hate About the AT
In my last post, I spent some time talking about all the things I love about the AT. But let’s be honest…there are also some things about life on the trail that are maybe not my favorite. In fact, some might say I actively complain about several of the following on a rather regular basis. Trail life is a wonderful thing – wake up, eat, pack, hike, eat, hike, take off shoes, eat, put shoes on, hike, eat, hike, pitch tent, eat, sleep, repeat. In between all that craziness, T and I like to chat a bit. All good things, all good things – at least in the beginning. Now I find that we spend a lot of time complaining about the following ten:
10) Spider webs
Every morning when we start out, we look at the terrain to see who is going to lead first. If it is uphill, T goes in front. Downhill – well lucky me. Each is secretly hoping the other will lead since the damn spider webs are horrible in the early morning hours. These webs get everywhere. In your hair, in your mouth – I can’t tell you how many spiders I’ve swallowed so far, but it’s a big number and ever growing. I try to tell myself it’s a good source of protein to push through the grossness.
Not to be confused with spider webs. It all started with the gnats – small pesky bugs that swarm around your head as you hike and land on you every time you stop. They’re horrible! As soon as we moved out of gnat territory, the eye bug was introduced. Now I don’t know what these things are, but they hover just in front of your eyes, occasionally taking a suicidal plunge into the saline solution of your eyeball. What is their end goal???? Then of course you have the mossies, giant green caterpillars and their green goo, spiders, beetles, and most recently – water bug infestations. Yup, I love to hate on bugs.
Did you ever dream of a lovely, overgrown, wildflower meadow as a child that you could frolic through, singing songs from The Sound of Music, all while feeling a surging sense of joy and glee? Me too. But now when we reach these real-life meadows, all I see is ticks, ticks, and lime disease. How does Julie Andrews manage to look so carefree?
7) Damp clothes
My hiking clothes are simply never dry. They are permanently soaked with sweat. My absolute least favorite part of the morning is putting on my damp, moist, mildew-y hiking clothes. And they smell. A lot. When we pass day hikers, T and I always comment on how clean and fresh they smell. We’re sometimes a bit creepy in our sniffs and exhales of satisfaction. “Ahhhh – fresh linen!” But then we wonder – what must we smell like to them? “Ahhhh – rotten onions and mildew.”
6) Physical deterioration of your body parts
I knew this would happen along the trail, but I didn’t expect to constantly be recovering from something or another. Tendonitis, knee pain, SI joint dislocation, etc. As soon as one pain goes, another appears without fail. Can I just have one day where something doesn’t hurt? Please?
5) Creature feature
Night time can be a free, front row seat to your own spooky evening entertainment. Cue strange sounds, rustling leaves, odd grunting, and mammoth-sized footsteps. Exaggeration caused by darkness and the inability to see anything outside the scope of your head torch, free of charge.
4) Getting your trekking poles stuck in the middle of a climb
This happens to me a lot.
It is everywhere when you don’t need it and 10 miles away when you do.
2) Never-ending inclines
I mean, never-ending. As in you look up after climbing for 10 minutes and realize you haven’t moved. As in you round the corner of a mother-cursing hill, praying for the top, only to find another .5 mile never-ending incline. As in you stand at the bottom and look at the climb before you, knowing that once you start it will feel like an eternity before you stop. Yea, never-ending inclines suck – especially at the end of the day.
1) Zero days
How can they possibly make you feel worse? Is it the pizza? The wine? The extra sleep? The extra shower? I don’t know what it is about zero days, but they always make it harder to get back on the trail. I’m taking one today and am in constant fear of the effect it will have on tomorrow…
Ok, ok, jesting aside. Above all else, I love to hate that someday, sooner than expected, this amazing journey is going to end and then what am I going to hate on?
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