Appalachian Questions From My Mom
My days off on the Appalachian trail look very similar each time: sleep inside, shop for resupply, and call my parents (super exciting, I know). With them still living in England on a 5 hour time difference, the window for FaceTime is short. Having grown up as a family that didn’t really backpack, it’s sometimes difficult to convey what being out in the back woods of another country is really like.
Though, my parents would probably like to claim we were camping people growing up, there are stories that would contradict. For instance, a few days into our week long car camping trip to Wales, a pole broke on our tent and it was much easier to just cut the vacation short and head home than try to rough it out… not really an option out here. Another time my Dad and I tried a 15 mile bike packing trip, and I sobbed for 10 of the 15 because the hills were hard… which IS an option out here!
So, with no guidance from me, I text and asked my Mom what she wants to know about the first 900 miles of the AT.
Q1: What have you had for Tea?
Translation: what are you eating for dinner?
Each night actually has a huge variety! Due to me hiking with your daughter-in-law we split meals. So one night it’ll be a family size mash potato and a single pasta packet, then the next night a family size pasta packet and a single potato. The opportunities are endless! I would love to eat the pre-made backpacker meals, but these pockets are shallow, so they’re reserved for treat days. Really, it’s about trying to get as many calories as possible. If I haven’t snacked enough through the day, I’ll eat anything for some good fuel.
Q2: Have you been to the toilet properly?
Following up the food topic, nice little link there Mom. Let me spare some readers and just say yes. Every 10-15 miles there are shelters with privies attached to them; some are lovely wood chip smelling, some don’t even have walls- but they usually have a seat! If you get caught out in between, you’re digging a hole and squatting. Having grown up in a house with a bidet, I’m a back woods bidet convert. I mentioned its use in a previous blog.
Q3: Have you had any fallings out yet?
Translation: Has Britta punched you yet?
Actually, this one is a pretty easy ‘not really’! There are times when it’s been hot, or we’re tired, where things get a little snappy. But overall no. The stresses of normal daily life are mainly gone. She doesn’t have to put up with my home cooking and I don’t have to scrub toilets, it’s pretty nice! We just keep remembering this is meant to be a 6 month vacation, we should be having fun!
Q4: Have you met any nutters yet?
Translation: have you met any weirdos?
Yes, every single person. You’ve gotta be a bit wild and weird to be living in a tent for 6 months out of choice. The neat thing is that on the trail I’ve met people from all over: different backgrounds, different countries, different belief systems, so you’re bound to have some clashes with others. Yet, the one thing that binds us is the trail, and that gives us a lot in common. Plus, those people are going to be around you for 6 months, so you better find something in common, FAST!
Q5: Have you had to try and avoid someone?
No, I’m far too slow. I’ve heard a whispering of people hiking multiple 30 mile days and breaking themselves just to get out of the radius of some other hikers. Except, I can’t do that, so it’s much easier to just ‘hike my own hike’. You end up being alone most of the day anyway, so a frustrating 45 minutes is usually worth not rage hiking for multiple days. Usually people will get sick of me singing the same 3 songs from the musical ‘Hamilton’ and leave me alone before I have to avoid them.
Q6: How are your feet?
I’m going to whisper this one, so karma doesn’t kick my arse but- I haven’t had any blisters yet and my feet feel fine… Britta on the other hand has grown one and half shoe sizes and has golf ball size blisters on every other toe! She wears her liners and airs them out but seems to be in no luck. However, you gifted me some pretty monster gorilla toes that seem to be going fairly well.
Q7: Are you bored yet?
Obviously not, I’m living the dream one nightmare at a time. Though waking up every day and doing the same thing can seem repetitive, with the right mentality each day can be as fun as the last. Some of these days though can be an absolute slug fest. Every hill makes me question why I’m out here; that’s when a trail tested motto of ‘embrace the suck’ comes in.
I’ve bought a few luxury items, like my kindle, that help with the boredom. I know some Gearheads will say it’s not worth the 6 ounces; but I say to them “leave me alone dum-dum head”. Plus, the trail seems to throw some absolute madness whenever I’m getting bored. It could be a rogue ‘nutter’ or a wild weather day, the trail always provides.
Anyway, thanks for the help Mom. Call me soon.
You call your Mom too.
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