Finding MY Happy Medium
Howdy everyone, guess what? This girl is headed back to the trail! I’ve been off for a week now, and I’ll be honest, it’s pretty strange. All week, I laid on the couch and ate. And ate. Oh, and also ate. I don’t think I’ve ever been this inactive while consuming so many calories, but it’s led me to some important revelations.
I try to lead a sustainable lifestyle, and I do for the most part when it comes to things like waste, clothing, electricity, etc. However, I realize that I am not sustainable with my body.
In the past, my treks had an end in sight. Because of that, I pushed myself pretty hard to complete the goal. Before getting off the trail, I did the same thing on the AT.
Every day on the Appalachian Trail is hard. You can’t think too much about the end because you are too busy focusing on the difficulty right in front of you.
You can continue to push through; you actually have to do that in order to finish. But you have to be smart about it.
I need to be able to maintain my energy. In order to do so, I’ve made changes to both what I eat and what I carry.
I feel like I talk about food all the time in my posts. Maybe it’s my subconscious telling me I need to do better. I try to eat a mostly vegan diet, but now, on trail, I will be making tuna a regular part of my diet. I also plan to eat lots of eggs when I am in towns, along with veggies, of course.
I also plan to eat more, having a decent snack at least every two hours. Hopefully in doing so I will be able to have more energy throughout the day and will hike better.
The other major change I’ve made is gear. While it kills me to both spend the money and not use what I already have, I realize that my size plays a large role in my hike. I am petite and more than capable of a thru-hike, but I’m small, so I have to carry less. I’m hoping that carrying lighter gear and less weight overall will allow me to achieve what I want while not depleting my energy.
As I head back to the trail, I am nervous about finishing on time. I also worry about burning myself out. This week I continuously checked other hikers’ mileage. It’s nerve-racking to see that people are arriving at Katahdin; I’m also bummed that my friends have passed me on the trail.
Thinking about these things, I remember a discussion I had with a fellow hiker, Marrow, whom I hope to see again soon.
Before entering Virginia, Marrow and I spent a rainy couple of days hiking together and had good conversation. He told me the mishaps of his first backpacking trip on a section of the AT in North Carolina. Like most hikers, Marrow overpacked; his pack contained a bottle of wine, about five pounds of GORP and a hardback copy of Walt Whitman’s greatest works.
He mentioned an important quote he discovered in Song of Myself that I would like to share with you.
I do this really unhealthy thing where I consistently compare myself to others. What is the deal with that? I get caught up in social media, in hearing other people’s stories, etc. I’m not sure why, but I find that it’s easier to put others up on a pedestal, (sometimes those I don’t even know) and put myself down. Doing so makes me feel like a sad, fragile human being and I don’t want to be that way anymore.
Maybe I will bust out the rest of the AT no biggie; and honestly, maybe I won’t thru-hike, I don’t know. I’m going to do my best every day and I’m going to check myself to make sure I am giving my body what it needs. I’m going to spend each day on the trail experiencing it for myself, no one else; because after all, this is MY hike.
Happy trails 😊
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Kelly, while not in your exact circumstances, I feel for you. I am petite, female, and reach far. You are braver than me for now, and I know you are strong. All joking aside, what really keeps me going is the inane: ‘ its just walking’. I don’t know, but helps me.
Kelly…so how can you HYOH if you don’t begin to embrace the unique and special person that is “you”? If you are that competitive and social media driven then either embrace and acknowledge that side of your personality and put it to constructive use or use the time on your adventure to reflect on why you are who you are, and if necessary make small incremental changes on a daily basis to shape the person you want to be. If you were your best friend, what advice would you give yourself? Take it and trust it. Find your own pedestal and go stand on it. It might only be 2 inches high, but as you learn to appreciate “you”, the pedestal will rise significantly as will your sense of self. You are doing something difficult and life changing. Happy trails.
Phoenix (formerly Ribs but that’s a long story)
Kelly, thank you for your honest reflections in this post. I can certainly understand where you’re coming from. I will also be returning to the trail tomorrow after nearly a week off, seeing family and letting an injury recover somewhat. It’s so hard once back on the trail to not compare ourselves to the other hikers, when it appears that so many of them pull off 20+ mile days with no effort at all. But then I remember all the folks who are stuck back at home choosing to stare at some digital device for hours, and couldn’t or wouldn’t ever try what you and I are doing.
There will always be folks faster and slower, richer and poorer, heavier and lighter, older and younger. May we all learn to love accept ourselves for the totally unique creatures that we are.