Five Lessons after Three Weeks on the AT
Three Weeks In and I’ve Learned Some Lessons.
I feel like a completely new person. Yes, Therese has been permanently transformed into a new person. And it’s much more than just a name change! Here are five super important lessons I’ve learned so far.
1: Planning is good, but what will happen will happen, and it’s going to be fine.
You can plan all you want – in fact, you should, or you might end up on top of Rocky Mountain with no water eagerly scrambling through the heat in a desperate search for the next spring – but that’s not going to stop things from happening. No matter how prepared you may think you are, your hammock can still rip one night. You’ll have to buy a new one.
2: Humanity is kind.
Trail magic has completely restored my faith in humanity. The outpouring of kindness has absolutely transformed me into an optimistic person. Seriously! After walking 5 miles feeling like I had razor blades in my knees, a family of five gave my friend and I hot dogs and cakes and candy and apples and drinks. They talked to us, shared stories of their thru-hike, and led us on our way. Another man paid for my Tramily’s hefty meal at the diner in Hot Springs. Acts of kindness like this have warmed my heart and soul. I cannot wait to give back, just like they gave to me.
3: Being positive is easy, and it pays off.
Being excited to see a familiar face is not only a great way to make friends, it’s also an amazing way to boost morale. It doesn’t matter how hard your day was. Everything can change when you roll into camp and see someone you know. Aside from my Tramily, there’s a pair of dudes who have single-handedly made me feel 1000% better every time we run into each other. Why? Because we’re excited to have stumbled into each other, to exchange pleasantries and well wishes. We recap quickly, pound it, then go our separate ways.
Another key to success is to pretend like discouragement doesn’t exist. My friends put this into words, and it’s so true. “It didn’t even cross my mind to be discouraged.” Boom. No way can you get seriously downhearted if you stay positive and energized about the epic future ahead of you.
4: The view is great from the top of a mountain.
I have climbed over 100 mountains at this point. Each one was really difficult in it’s own way. I wanted to give up. But then I realized, what would I do? Climb back into that valley in the middle of nowhere? You need to keep moving forward out here. There is no other option.
5: Having people you can depend on makes all the difference.
Friendship is important. The family I’ve found on the trail is at least 80% responsible for my hike continuing today. Not only do they provide hilarity and amusement while hiking/camping, they also provide emotional and physical support. Yesterday I was just about done after hiking 10 miles. But we had another 7 to go, and my knees would not support me. That’s when Alex piped up and said, “Empty your bag. We’ll help you carry your pack.” Without their help in taking a load off, I would not have made it to the campground with my knees intact. Every morning I wake up and make breakfast laughing by their sides because I am so happy to be alive with them. I am motivated to keep moving because of their support and existence.
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