Developing those Hiker Legs: 1st Week on the AT
“Take it slow, hike your own hike (HYOH), wait till you get your Hiker legs…” The common conversations and affirmations I’ve heard this first week living on the AT.
I completely agree and understand now the importance of building your personal strength, confidence, and backpacking skill set, gradually. After all, it’s not a race, it’s a marathon ( or, more accurately, around 83 marathons). I started out doing on average 8 miles a day, with some larger mile days on easier terrain. In the long run I know my legs will thank me.
But i cant help but wonder…. Have any of you thought about being able to easily go into an REI (or any other outfitter), mossy into the back of the store and pick out your very own, custom pair of “hiker legs”? Try them on and go?
Some days. The majority of nights, I’ve had this dream, as Georgia’s ups and downs are certainly kicking my butt. Big time, and sometimes I wish for instant hiking strength. But these days of firsts are where we lay the physical and mental foundation for the long haul. And honestly, I’m secretly loving every hill because of who they are molding me to be.
It’s officially been a week though! How crazy is that!? I’m excited to write this first of hopefully many trail updates. Currently, we made it to mile marker 69.6, spending the night at the beautifully hospitable, Top of Georgia Hostel (highly recommend!). I’ve got a full belly of much sought after veggies, pasta, and cookies to top off the night. A warm bed to recharge, and escape the projected 30 degrees chilly night is a definite plus.
But even here, it’s hard to even sit down, to take a moment to physically and mentally remove myself from the “pack up and go” mindset, in order to try and fully explain the range of emotions and experiences I’ve felt these first seven days. Excitement, nervousness, doubts, gratefulness, amazment, worry, and anticipation… just to name a few.
It seems like eons ago, but I remember back to the first couple nights as all of us tried to find our place in the shelter scene. Do I eat first or set up camp? Is hiker midnight really a thing? (Although I can now confirm this for certain). Ect, ect, ect. It was, and still is a trial and error obstacle.
I remember when we had our first encounter of trail magic as we crossed Woody Gap. A large bus and boiling pots of soup, tea, and bananas awaited us at the perfect moment (my blister war was at a peak). Good conversations with people who earnestly care for each and every one of these smelly hikers passing through, could make anyone gain some faith in humanity back.
I remember the first really big elevation day as we went up and over Blood Mountain. As the views were astounding. Multiple varying shades of blue in the distance, layering on top of each other… mountains as far as the eye can see. Oh how I know we arn’t in the midwest anymore.
I remember my first “ah-ha!” moment as I switched my size 9 to a size 11 boots.. at Neel Gap. My toes are now very happy campers as their living room just got an upgrade. It’s freeing!
I’m praying constantly that I’ll never forget these little details that have already made this trek so memorable. Especially the people. Such characters in their own way, but with the common adventure thread in all of us.
Tomorrow is a big day as the plan is to cross that mile 78.5 marker, or better known as the Georgia/North Carolina state border!! Border day! Update ya’ll soon, but for now happy hiking!
And now for some various photos:
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Well Andria; good for you. The AT has been on my bucket list but now I will have to be content to follow your adventures. Be safe out there. Not traveling alone are you? Have you read A Walk Across America? Gwen
As a diabetic on the trail the leg cramps become a chance of many problems. What I found was i low salt from sweating and carbs. I went through my meals trying different things at night, but after I had a double Ramen noodles for supper and drank 64 oz electrolyte powder drink all night, I had cramps all night, waking me in tears. This moment all cramps stopped and never had them again. Nuun tabs, Fizz or garorade powder nakes all the difference in water, remember the carbs.
Grrrrrrrrr on spelling, sorry, just read it.