Or “How do you eat an elephant?”

The last week or so before I started the trail, I was getting overwhelmed with all the feelings. Excitement, sure, but also worry, calm, sadness, confidence, fear, loneliness, and many others. The first days on the trail I realized I needed to stop thinking about 2,194 miles of hiking and more than 6 months away from my family and students. I started to think of the journey in smaller chunks; eating the elephant, as it were. So now I claim that I am hiking a series of consecutive hikes with the beginnings and endings when I have scheduled meet-ups with family, friends, hosts, care packages, etc.

My first hike ended when I met up with my daughter and grandson. My second hike ended this morning when my other daughter’s friend’s aunt picked me up to host me for a rest day. (I think I told you before I have a large network supporting me!) My next hike ends when my sister-in-law’s friend picks me up for resupply and a short respite at their home.  And so on. A series of consecutive hikes. I am still tracking my mileage and budget on my numerous spreadsheets, but in my mind I am thinking of hiking to the next milepost.

Progress and Rapport

I met my daughter and grandson for a picnic lunch of fresh fruits, vegetables, baguette, and cheeses at a state park last week. Yum! They also resupplied me with a variety of good foods for my bag. Then they hiked with me about 1/4 mile out of the park. My 3 year old grandson was so excited to “hike with Gigi!”

I have completed one state and am well into my second state! I am purposefully trying to keep my mileage low at this point, but a few “higher” mileage days when I was trying to get to a shelter rather than tent in the rain. Yes, I can camp in the rain, but it is no fun carrying a wet tent, and it’s heavier. I’ve also discovered that I miss some of the camaraderie of the shelters when I separate yourself in the tent. That’s just my perspective, though.

I have made friends! Some friends were quick meetings from one night at a shelter; others I’ve hiked with for an hour or a day.  I was gifted with the moniker “Gourmet Gal” by Lonestar and Bluebird. They decided that G.G. would be a good shortened form. They came up with this trail name for me because I have a variety of ways to have interesting foods, including several seasonings like powdered vegetable broth, powdered soy sauce, dry almond milk, powdered cheese, and others. I think it fits well for several reasons.

  1. My grandchildren call me Gigi.
  2. My father was a campfire chef and we never had boring meals in the backcountry as kids.
  3. My daughter and I made several dehydrated meals for my daughter to send in my resupply boxes.
  4. My mom is dehydrating more meals that she is making to send to me.
  5. My commercially produced meals are mostly from mom and pop shops.
  6. I will mostly be avoiding the ramen, tortillas, and instant side dishes that are staples for many thru-hikers.

Challenges and Conquests

You read that right. I have conquests! I know I’ve only been on the trail for 10 days, but I have met several challenges in that time. And conquered them! So far, I’ve had more cold and/or rainy days than warm, sunny days. I’ve met these challenges with a positive attitude, looking for literal and virtual rainbows whenever I can. I’ve also climbed steep hills, over and around boulders, and managed rocky terrain that was outside my comfort zone. Each of these conquests is also another bite of the elephant.

I know I will face many other challenges in the next 2k+ miles, but I plan to meet all of them head-on, whether they are physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise.  Until next time, campers!


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Comments 2

  • Tiff H. : Apr 9th

    Way to go! I love your mindset and positive spirit! Hoping that warmer weather finds its way to you soon!!


    • Kristine Hartlaub : Apr 22nd

      Thank you! I have found that many thru-hikers break the journey into manageable sections, not just me. It is how I’m moving forward every day, though!


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