When I hiked to Harpers Ferry, a part of me lamented the passing of time and reaching the “psychological half-way point” already. I lamented that the trip would some day end. Well, it’s been a long trip, and I’ve adjusted to the idea of the trip ending! Haha! I feel very ready to be where I am now, closer to ending every day. I told Mom and Dad this and we all laughed. They said, “You should write about that in the blog!” Ta-da.
These are some things that have been challenging lately, though I’m always hesitant to do this. I still feel truly blessed to even be able to be out here day after day- what a gift. But I like to try to be honest about the experience, so here are some things that have surprised me.
I still feel worn out, maybe even more worn out than at any point earlier in the trip. Several times earlier in the trip, another hiker would tell me, “the hiking will be very difficult up in New Hampshire, but by the time you get there, you’ll be a super-athlete!” I don’t really feel like a super-athlete. I just feel tired and sore once I start climbing up a mountain!
I’ve already discussed the mosquitoes, but they deserve mention again because they’re so tiresome. They really do impact my whole experience- it’s tough to take nice breaks when you’re being bitten.
It’s hard to smell bad day after day.
Yesterday I kept hiking through the forest and smelling this strange, semi-fruity smell…it wasn’t exactly unpleasant but it also wasn’t very appealing. I realized later that it was me! It’s a mix of sweat and bug spray and stinky backpack all mixed together- gross.
I really hate putting damp clothes on that haven’t dried out yet from sweat the day before. I think this might be my number one dislike about trail life. Usually my clothes dry out though- yay.
I really miss reading for long stretches of time, listening to podcasts, and just feeding my mind in those ways. When I was in Salisbury, I spent an entire day at the library, just grabbing books and magazines and reading whatever I wanted. It was truly glorious.
This is how I felt last week especially, and then yesterday, a group of familiar friends caught up to me in town. It was such a mood booster to be with a group of friends again. We all hiked up Mt Greylock on the same day, the highest peak in Massachusetts. Even though I didn’t hike with anyone, just knowing some people ahead and behind me was so uplifting. Also, this was the first time we had been above 3000 feet elevation in so long- since Harpers Ferry. In fact, most of the time since Harpers Ferry the trail has been below 2000 feet. It is such a different experience to be back up in those higher elevations again- Mt Greylock sits at 3491 feet. On the climb up I was surrounded by subalpine forest again (which survives at cooler temperatures), cool breezes and luscious green moss. The view looked out on multiple mountains ahead, and I felt happy to be back in a more adventurous setting again. I would almost be willing to bet that my spirits will bounce back again in the miles ahead, as we work our way up into higher mountains again. But I did want to write out some complaints, so I can look back on this when it’s all over and remember the hardest times!
On a lighter note, last night I was reading in my tent and kept hearing something bumping around right outside my door. And not only could I hear it, I started to see something actually bumping into my tent wall! This was really something, as most wildlife respects the boundary of a tent wall! I wondered it if was a squirrel, or mouse, or chipmunk, or maybe even a deer snout…when I unzipped my door and peered out I saw a tiny toad blinking up at me! I guess it was attracted by the bugs that were attracted by my flashlight! It is so easy to imagine something is bigger than it is- the other day I heard something noisy outside and just knew a mouse was chewing up my stuff- when I looked out it was just a beetle crawling in the dirt! Always an adventure on the trail, no matter how small!
So hiking has been more of a struggle lately, but I think it’s a good thing. The fact that it’s not easy is going to make me thankful for the luxuries post-trail. I look forward to the remaining adventures ahead. Onward!
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