For the Love of the Trail Gods, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY
Hey everyone, greetings from about 200 miles off trail.
The trail provides us with what we need, and sometimes that means getting off the trail. I push myself pretty hard in all aspects of life, and for the first time, I’m not getting the results I want, a sign that something is not right.
I started the trail in mid-May, pretty late for a northbounder. I like to keep a fast pace, so I wasn’t worried about getting to Katahdin too late in the season.
My first month on trail, I was flying. I passed all those I started with and began passing those that had been on trail longer than me. I’ll admit that this was a bit of an ego boost. It’s nice to be good at things, and I feel like backpacking is something I do well. However, no matter our talents, if we continue to push ourselves and not give our bodies what we need, things will start to falter.
About a week and a half ago, my body started to feel sluggish. We all have our off days; sometimes I get up and the last thing I want to do is walk, but I still do it. This wasn’t like that, though. I would wake up and lie in my sleeping bag, dreading the day.
I now know I made it through this time because I had a solid group of people around me. I started the trail flying past everyone, but now everyone was flying past me. Lucky for me, these kind souls recognized my struggles and held back, spending their days with me, making sure I made it to camp each night.
As this last week continued, I felt worse and worse. I feel like my trail family gets stronger each day and I am so proud of the miles they are covering. At the same time, it is hard to flounder around those that are prospering. I chose to take some time to myself and really think about things. I decided to slow down and take a break from the group. I didn’t want to hold people up; my thought was that if I slowed down for a few days, my body would bounce back no problem. And then I fell.
Making the choice to get off the trail for a few days was not easy; however, I’m learning that I have to listen to my body and do what it asks of me. I realize now that body was giving me several signs.
One. I was crying at least once a day on the trail. The trail is an emotional experience, but crying that often is just not normal. I realized that I was crying out of exhaustion, I didn’t want to do anymore, and I did not know how to handle to the situation.
I also didn’t want to eat anything. Food has been a constant struggle on the trail, but I realize that I have got to make a change. I’m not caring for myself properly; in order to be successful, I have to be kinder to my body.
Another warning sign to me was poor decision making. For example, I didn’t resupply in the last town I visited. Not only is this an extreme issue for eating purposes, but the idea that it didn’t occur to me to resupply is scary. Not having enough food is not only irresponsible, it is also dangerous to those around me.
The last major sign for me was just overall weakness. Like I said, I fell and I have been very clumsy lately. The trail can be difficult to walk on at times, but my constant tripping and falling over shows that my body and brain are not properly working with one another.
All these things combined helped me to realize that I need some time off. And after going to the hospital and being told I have a bruised sternum (making it hard to laugh/breathe,) potential organ problems, and exhaustion, I am under orders not to get back on the trail for a bit, and for once I am going to listen.
Taking time off the trail is extremely difficult. I’m frustrated with my body because it is not performing in the way I want. I am also frustrated with myself for letting things get so out of hand. I know I need to take this time to re-evaluate how I can become a better hiker because clearly I am not doing enough.
Time off makes me scared as well. I’m hopeful that I will return to the trail strong and be able to move forward, but based on how I feel now, I fear that that may not happen. I also wonder if this time off will make it harder for me to finish the trail. I also fear that time off will cause me to lose the strength I’ve built up in my body during the last month or so.
Time off makes me hopeful, too. Hopeful that I can become a better version of myself through this difficult time. The trail provides; it works in mysterious ways. I hope to grow through this experience and become a stronger person overall.
And finally, time off makes me feel both thankful and blessed. While I am really frustrated with my body, I know that things could be so much worse. I could have a serious injury that would inhibit me from returning to the trail. I’m lucky to have caught my issues early enough that I will eventually be able to continue.
I’m also so thankful and blessed for all the support I continue to receive. From the family in Virginia allowing me to stay as long as I need, to friends and family that continue to reach out and give me support, I got so much love for all of ya.
I hope that God will give me strength to continue on my way, but I also have faith that should things not go as hoped, something better will come.
I will try to keep everyone updated, but for now I need some rest. Much love and happy hiking. ❤️
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