The Countdown… er… Continues
So, I’ve only got 8 months, 15 days, and 12 hours (give or take) left before I start hiking NOBO on my planned launch date of April 1st. With so much time left before I get going, and suffering from a ridiculously persistent bout of wanderlust and jittery energy, I’ve been ping ponging between planning gear, reading, going on runs, and of course hiking to get (most of) it out. Here’s a quick update on some things I’ve been up to as… time…….. inches………….. forward.
I think everyone who sets out to hike the AT has a complicated relationship with gear. I know I do. After lots of deliberation, reading reviews, reading Outdoor Gear Lab, trawling White Blaze, and more than a few shameful nights of insomnia spent sweating over a tent choice, I think I’ve finally made peace with my gear. Now I just need get out to test, retest, and make sure I’m comfortable with all of it. I’ll probably report back with discoveries soon enough (I still have an alcohol stove to fire up and a tent to seam seal… whoo-boy), and am planning on having a solid setup by the end of the summer. I also just signed on to weekend hike the Cranberry Lake 50 in the beginning of October with some buddies, so that’s my self-imposed deadline for having everything 100% ready to go.
No, not THAT kind.
To give some backstory, I spent the first nine years of my life living like a wild child, outside, in the rural village of Rajamäki (literally translates to Border Hill), in Finland. Though our property wasn’t a farm in the commercial sense, it was filled with all the fixings of one; we grew and picked raspberries, lingonberries, apples, carrots, potatoes, and other veggies to eat fresh in the summer and freeze, juice, and preserve for the winter. We cut down and baled hay from the field, and always had an unruly assortment of animals roaming the property, most of which we turned into dinner. The farm bordered the woods, and I learned from a young age to to pick edible mushrooms under my mother’s watchful eye. Chanterelles, boletus, morels, even, though I actually didn’t even like how they tasted as a kid. I just loved how looking for them was like searching for hidden treasure.
When we moved to the US, and into suburbia, the woods were harder to get to, and looked very different; though occasionally I’d stumble on something that looked vaguely familiar, I was vary, because the US has much more variation, and quite a few are poisonous. Fear of making a mistake in identification had me convinced that I’d have to give up mushroom hunting for good… that is, until a year ago, when I literally almost stepped on a beautiful giant chanterelle on a trail not more than a swallow’s flight away from home.
Some research revealed that even here, chanterelles only have two looks alikes, both of which are pretty obviously different if you know here to look. I’m still not 100% comfortable with all the variability in fungi Stateside, but I can recognize a chanterelle from distance, and am plenty happy to traipse around the woods, filling a colander or two with gourmet golden mushrooms 🙂
Call me crazy, but ever since I committed to hiking, I’ve slowly had started to notice a shift in my perspective on a lot of the things I take for granted. Fun times with close friends, showers, ice cream, and my cat are all things that I’m especially grateful for at present, knowing that next year I’ll be off doing my own thing in the woods, making new friends, smelling something fierce, and probably scampering away from torrential downpours and thunderstorms right about now.
I’ve been prepping the “gear between my ears,” and while it’s hard to imagine what my mental state will be in 12 months, I’m starting to work on shifting myself from a goal-oriented mindset to a process-based one. Sure, I’m excited for April to get here already so I can start hiking, but I know that’s not the point, and I can’t think like that when I start, because then I’ll just be waiting for Katahdin to get here already. So, I’m focusing on planning fun things to do in the interim, and enjoying the summer.
So, that’s my update for now. Will keep ya’ll posted on all my future gear mishaps. Cheers!
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