Getting My Slack Packer Glow On
I met Namaste in Virginia at the Woods Hole Hostel (where we all held hands and expressed gratitude for things like coffee and a dry place to sleep and trail families).
A few days after the Kumbaya at the Woods Hole, Namaste was invited to slack pack with Gray Beard (the oldest hiker on the trail this year) and Papa Bear.
She said “Hell, Yes!!!”
And every day for the next four days I passed her on the trail and I envied her slack packer bliss as she danced down the trail with a tiny, tiny day pack the size of a bag of marshmallows.
She radiated the slack packer glow.
I wanted some of that!
Slack packing means someone with a car drops you off in the morning and picks you up in the evening and you get to spend a day or two or more free from the 25 pound weight on your back you’ve been wedded to for the last 1,000 miles.
Cue angels singing.
No, really, I’m hearing those angels now because my moment of slack packing bliss has arrived.
Living the dream!
And it’s come via U Turn, a hiker I met right after splitting with my tramily in Great Barrington and her generous friend, Tenderfoot, who has welcomed us into her beautiful home and provided more magic than I feel like I deserve.
But I’m opening myself up to receiving, with immense gratitude, this gift.
So much so, I’m dying to go back to Woods Hole and hold hands and share my gratitude for the gift of slack packing, which has included a zero day spent lounging on a window seat, red wine and platesful of real food.
Yay for how the Trail provides!
Slack Packing…Not Without Controversy
As with so many things on the AT, slack packing is another thing that makes the AT purists twitchy.
Some people think it’s cheating if you don’t carry a full pack the entire length of the trail.
There’s integrity in that.
But I’m not that pure.
I think a smattering of days spent with a lighter load is one part of the full experience of a thru hike.
Besides, when I returned to the trail after taking two weeks off for a hip injury, I swore I’d do whatever it took to stay healthy and stay on the trail.
This trail is grueling. It wears a body down to a frazzled, hobbling nub. With random shooting pains in all parts, but mostly the feet.
Slack packing is a way to give your tired, painful body a little break. It’s a rest where you still get to progress up the trail towards Katahdin.
So for these two blissful days in August in Vermont, I’ve carried my own teeny pack and danced up the trail without a care, and hardly a pain, in the world.
My feet feel better after a day of carrying low weight.
My attitude is better.
I’ve really enjoyed the trail and moving quickly through the landscape. It doesn’t hurt that Vermont is beautiful and the legendary mud is mostly dry right now.
So, yes, please! I believe I will say yes to slack packing.
Personally, I wouldn’t do it for the entire trail. A supported hike is a different sport than the thru hike I signed up for.
But a smattering of days where my sore feet can calm down and the rest of me can dance lightly up the trail?
Well, hell yes!
In Other News
- I built my first cairn to add to the rock garden in the pine forest at White Rocks Cliffs.
- I passed my halfway point at the MA/VT state line. It was an emotional moment (in other words, I cried) where it hit me that, on the one hand, I’ve accomplished so much. And on the other hand, I freakin’ have to do it again!
- Canoeing on Upper Goose Pond! First time on the trail I had my tent pitched before noon. So worth it!
- I have less than 500 miles to go before I reach Katahdin and flip back to the southern portion of my hike. Wow!
So I’m back at it tomorrow, full pack and crossing another state line into New Hampshire.
I think I’ll talk nice to me feet tonight.
They deserve extra love.
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