A Curve in the Road

When I started writing for Appalachian Trials I wondered what I could bring to the many followers of the blog. After my first two blogs, I learned that the many hikers and those who long to hike but can’t for a variety of reasons were encouraging and rooting for me to have a successful AT hike. They inspired me to put my emotions out there for everyone to see, to share my goals and frustrations as well as the many accomplishments that I would surely achieve while on the trail. My goal was to write as often as I could for the 2000 plus followers and share my experience with them.

As my husband Fred aka 3-mile and I embarked on our journey I managed to write a few blogs for Appalachian Trials and for my own website, but found myself exhausted at the end of each day and thus began the tailspin of neglecting to chronicle my life on the A.T. on a regular basis. I was too tired to take the 5-10 minutes to scribble in my journal or put in my notes folder on my phone. Hell, I even had a keyboard for my ipad-no extra weight there :), therefore I had no excuse to not share my hellacious climbs, torturous descents or the lack of a flushable toilet for friends and family back home and around the country.

I found myself saying “I’ll write multiple blogs on our next zero day”, but never did. Why, you ask? Rides to hitch, packs to unload, laundry to do, food to gorge on, experiencing the local sights and sounds and of course hot showers to take and when all was said and done, a soft warm bed to fall asleep in. Who had time to write more than a quick overview to let our loved ones know we were okay? Looking back now, I had the time and frankly pissed it away on enjoying the comforts that we all take for granted. Future hikers-don’t make the same mistakes. Take even a quick minute to write something, anything about your day.

Now, for those reading this that don’t know me, let’s start at the beginning. A few years ago, I agreed to hike the Appalachian Trail with my best friend/husband thinking it would never happen, so I figured I had nothing to lose by saying yes. Never, and I mean NEVER, agree to something you really never thought of doing without really knowing what you are getting yourself into. (That’s a blog for another time.) Anyways, back to whatever it is I’m talking about here.

I look back now and can honestly say that even though I prepared for the journey of a lifetime, I really didn’t prepare. I was hiking someone else’s hike and my goal was helping 3-mile achieve HIS goal. I knew I wanted to make it through the Smoky Mountains and to Harper’s Ferry, but beyond that I had no expectations or goals. I talked a good game, but in hindsight, not the way one should approach such an undertaking.

I quickly learned that if you don’t follow the advice of the hikers who came before you and hike your own hike you will truly miss out on an amazing experience. As I reflect back, I can honestly tell you that I enjoyed 90% of every single day. The 10% that ruined any joy I had came from a combination of mental negativity and sheer physical pain. This stems from my allowing myself to hike 3-mile’s hike and not my own. All the miles of walking allowed me to spend time in my own head which in turn gave way to thinking that if 3-mile did all the planning then the hike was truly his hike and I should do what I had always planned to do, tag-along. This combined with a foot issue (that will require surgery) became my downfall and after 225 miles I hit a curve in the road and found myself coming home. Tears, anger, regret, pit in the stomach and a blessing all in one.

I’m writing this blog not as a depressing post or a “whoa is me blog”, but an honest dialogue for those who may be the tag-along following in the footsteps of a spouse, partner or friend. Don’t do it unless you are going for reasons that will be clear to you from the minute you say yes, or at the very least in the early stages of planning.

With that being said and with a couple months back at home, I can say that 2015 cannot get here quick enough for me. I can’t wait to hike my own hike and get back to the trail. You see, in “section hiking” 225 miles through rain and snow, ups and downs and knobs and balds that tried to kill me physically and mentally, I learned that I am physically and mentally strong enough to go the distance and I CANNOT wait to get back to the trail. To a way of life that I never thought would be something I would crave. I miss the freedom, the beauty, smell and sounds of the woods. I miss the people who shared a common goal. The laughter and the tears. The words of encouragement and the fun of it all. But, mostly I miss the solitude and sharing a once in a lifetime journey with my best friend.

Look for more blogs on our adventures of section hiking from the Approach trail to Pecks Corner in the Smoky Mountains. And what we will be doing differently for our 2015 thru-hike.

Until next time do what you love
Little D

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