Brain Dump Before Springer Mountain
There are few days until my partner, Ryan, and I head to Springer Mountain to start our NOBO. This will be both of our first times backpacking or attempting a thru. We are expecting to learn a lot in the early days especially, gaining insights and adapting as we go. As the long period of preparation transforms into starting the actual journey, feelings, thoughts, and ideas are stirring. Here are a few:
This week I made a final batch of food to dehydrate to add to our stock of pre-made foods. Mostly everything I’ve prepped came from an insanely satisfying plant-based backpacking meals recipe book. (Side note: I’m hoping to comment on what it’s like to backpack while vegan, and hopefully bash some misconceptions in the process! stay tuned!) A few weeks back, we took all our gear out overnight and for a sandy, flat hike in the New Jersey Pine Barrens. It got down to 25° and it was good to test our gear at a temperature we’ll likely encounter starting at Springer Mountain in mid-March. We’ve finished making our final purchases and are putting all of our gear out into piles on the floor to visualize our inventory and get a gauge of our base weight. Our base weight is actually pretty light, but once we add our food that will probably change because we munch. We’ve tried to keep our gear lists simple and lightweight, but we did get fancy and bought two camping pillows and I don’t think we’ll regret the extra ~ounce.
Feelings of openness and sensitivity have grown as I prepare to go on a journey that, until this point, has felt far-off and dream-like. Making the choice to carry out a deeply rooted passion is exciting and life-giving. It grabs you by the heart and feelings of excitement take over, like your entire existence is recognizing that you’re taking initiative of a dream that you have for yourself. Just making the choice to prepare and set out on this journey is empowering.
I have always been a feeling person (hi fellow INFPs), but in a time like this, I’m especially thankful for my sensitive nature. I think it allows me to have a full experience. I appreciate being moved in ways that feel both light and heavy, in ways that challenge me, inspire me, humble me, and fulfill me. I’m also really thankful to have a partner to do this with; his personal goals and interests aligned with mine so much that we felt we could have this journey together. I’m excited to feel the power of the land and notice the subtleties of the changing seasons as we traverse the mountains of the east coast. We’re so excited to meet and share our journey with other people who’ve also felt the pull to live outside with a backpack.
I’ve heard the mantra of A.T. thru-hikers: “no pain, no rain, no Maine”, hinting at the reliability of discomfort while thru-hiking. I think this reaffirms my expectation that it will be uncomfortable, but for now I’m keeping an open mind for when I’m faced with things that may test my will. I’ve known for quite some time that I wanted to do the A.T., but since formally deciding on our 2022 attempt, I’ve been consciously working to bolster my mindset with affirmations and a dedication to this journey. Right now, jitters and excitement are high, and so I find it especially important to stay grounded in faith. It helps me feel level and accepting of the journey ahead. We are both prepared to invest our energy into the things we can control (our attitudes) opposed to parts of the experience that we have no control over (weather, injury). We’re bringing journals on the trail, and I imagine taking the time to reflect will be healthy for many reasons.
I’m looking forward to sharing my/our journey and experiences with you. Thanks for joining along!
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