A Quaint and Expensive Twilight Zone: New England pt 1
1500 Miles is a Lot of Miles and Your Body isn’t Happy About It.
Let’s talk about what happens after 1500 miles of walking. 1500 miles and above is a lot of miles. To put that in perspective, I could have walked from my college dorm in Lincoln, Nebraska to Hollywood, California. Yup, that is the same mileage as 1500 miles on the Appalachian Trail.
What is warned to thru hikers, but not expected, is the level of hunger and exhaustion that comes with walking 1500 miles. I, during a bad day, managed to rage eat a full day of food in an hour. I was hangry and tired, despite the couple thousand calories I put away, I was still was ravenous. I can’t carry enough food to feel fully satisfied or energized now. I was warned that as I got further along that my hiker hunger would double, but I didn’t.realoze it would be anything like this.
Along with constant hunger is the constant fatigue. I am exhausted. ALL. THE. TIME. I have the energy to hike, and I am still getting decent mileage through Connecticut and Massachusetts, but as soon as I am in my tent, I am out. I have zero energy to do anything but lay around and sleep.
A decent day on trail depends on so many crucial things like sleep, food, protein intake, but also your mental health and the conditions on trail. I know that I am the type of person who becomes defensive when I feel rushed or hurried. It is a residual trauma response and I am working on not being reactive. I do not mind being on a schedule and putting out big miles, but as soon as I feel like I am being told to hurry up, I lash out.
I felt bad for Dreamsicle one day because I lashed out at him because I felt rushed and like we were being hurried a long for no reason. I felt like I was being left behind because of my insecurities about being slow or lagging behind. My cranky day ended up putting us in a funk and slowing down. We made amends and moved on, but the smallest things can throw you out of balance here.
It’s an Expensive Twilight Zone Up Here.
So we are in New England proper apparently. Connecticut and Massachusetts are stunning, with beautiful views and lovely (albeit expensive) towns. As we crossed into Massachusetts we entered my ancestral lands, my father grew up in Sheffield, so I have visited the areas as a youngin’.
Since then, I forgot how small and tiny and out of place this region made me feel. Maybe it was due to me being a child and my brain wasnt fully developed, but these towns feel like they have been frozen in time and have never acknowledged modernity. The amount of quaintness makes me feel like I should be in an episode of the twilight zone. Things feel too quiet and are way too expensive. It is a strange dichotomy, being an outsider in these little towns. It is like looking into a window. I felt more like a zoo animal in Salisbury, CT that I ever did in Hiawassee, GA. Maybe this sense of timelessness is a good thing… I dont know but I am astounded by the amount of weird shit in New England.
That’s right. Shit is weird up here. I have received trail magic on a race track, seen a pen of sheep in the middle of town, had people who looked like vineyard vines models look at me like a zoo animal, and the list continues. I have always been told that New England is where the well to do privileged few live, with their quaint hobbies, their tiny quaint street signs, and quaint timeless colonial houses. But did you think you would have to try and get a hitch during a Porsche racing event? Or, be walking past a memorial to the “Mammoth Cheese” given to Thomas Jefferson? If anything, that sounds like some shit I would have seen in the south, not Massachusetts and Connecticut.
The Best Trail Side Stops
Besides finding weird things in New England, we have finally found some quintessential trail side stops. We have met Vlobster over pancakes at the Goose Pond Cabin and we got to see the Northern Cookie lady (2.0) on her amazing farm, where we gorged ourselves on blueberries. We given a stay at the Bascom lodge on Mt. Greylock as trail magic from a dear friend (Thanks Kayleigh! We love you!). New England has been a wild ride on trail. I have managed to become the Queen of being sidetracked or vortexed, as we approach the end of trail, I refuse to let the Fear of Missing Out on Miles (FOMOOM) win, I want to experience all the trail has to offer as we reach the last 1/3. I do not want to rush this experience just to see the end.
As we approach the last 600 miles, Dreamsicle and I keep hearing more of our friends have had to get off trail, be it due to injury, finances, of it was their time to get off. I have come to the conclusion that the trail decides when you are ready to finish, be that on Katahdin or going home. Hot spicy occult take, I believe the trail is an Egregore, or a spirit that is brought into exist due to collective thoughts of a distinct group of people. In normal human speak, the trail has become its own powerful spirit because so many hikers have given energy and power through their thoughts.
Many cultures believe that their gods live on mountain peaks, I see no reason why the Appalachian Trail can’t be a monumental spirit existing over a trail. I see my own experience as one of a pilgrimage, allowing the spirit of the trail to decide when and how I will finish. The trail will guide me on what I need to learn through the experience. I have learned that I am not here to conquer this trail or defeat it, I am here to learn and experience the journey the AT has to offer me. So many previous AT hikers tell you, “that this trail will break you down, just to build you up to be the person you need to be when you reach Katahdin.” The trail will decide when I am ready, so why worry about the end? Why race to the end?
Katahdin will be there. Katahdin will be waiting for me when I get there.
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