Happenings of Week One
Let me start this post by saying one thing: trail life is amazing.
Although we’ve only been on the trail for about a week, we feel as though we’ve been changed by what we’ve experienced. The people, the grueling climbs, the trail magic, the campfires and conversation have all been overwhelmingly different from what we were used to in pre-trail life.
Speaking personally, and for myself only, this journey has really forced me to deal with fear. I would like to say I’m a social person, and enjoy two things: comfort and social interaction. This journey has made me physically uncomfortable (sweating in a sleeping bag, trying to sleep in 50mph winds at 30 degrees, feeling my chubby thighs rub together on steep and sustained climbs, sore feet, etc) and pushed me out of my social circle in which I am comfortable. Yet while the trail forces us to isolate from what we know, it brings us together in a community where we are all one. We all have one main goal, to walk north. There are no cliques or social structures to abide by. We spent the first few days hiking with a couple of high-dollar lawyers from Washington D.C. What the trail takes from you, it gives back in plenty. Only when we are made vulnerable can we change.
Over the past four days, Maranda and I have pushed ourselves. We’ve physically pushed our bodies to points we’ve thought impossible before. We did two consecutive big days totaling 27.5 miles. What took us 4 days to do in miles before, we did in 2. We’re pretty proud of that.
On top of that, Maranda (my beast of a wife!!) has done big miles while suffering from IT-band issues. While this injury has added to the struggles that new thru-hikers must push through, we’ve found comfort in familiar faces and couples that have been dealing with similar issues. Again, in this forced isolation, we’ve found a vibrant community.
So here we sit (or lay- as we’ve done most of today) in Holiday Inn in Hiawasee, GA. We had an amazing day yesterday after pushing 6.5 miles in the morning into town to be greeted by family. It was truly refreshing.
We are surrounded by hikers. We’ve determined that if you want to spot a hiker in town, look for the person wearing a down jacket heading to/from a restaurant. Conversation typically turns back to the hike, all aspects of it- including gear.
A lot us changed since we left a little over a week ago- but one of the most noticeable is what we are carrying in our packs.
WHAT WE HAVE GOTTEN RID OF:
- Bear Spray: Honestly, by the end of the day if a bear were to approach us- we’d be too tired to care. And our heads are constantly at our feet the whole day, so it’s not like we’d see the bear before we are eaten anyways- it would be a surprise death. (Which honestly, I think the terror would be in watching the bear come towards me to eat me.)
- Camp Pillow: Just use your jacket or clothes bag, it takes some getting used to- but it’s worth it weight wise.
- Chacos: They’re heavy. Only reason I got rid of them. I’ve replaced them with $1 flip flops (thanks Walmart!!) Maranda has chosen to keep hers, it’s all preference!
- Nalgene Water Bottle: An empty Nalgene weighs more than an empty Smart Water bottle. Easy enough.
- Cook Pot: We started with 2. Why?? Not entirely sure. We now have one and we still eat at night.
- Food: This was a big learning curve. We initially carried 5 days worth of food that could feed Moses and the Israelites twice over. Our hunger didn’t kick in until about 5 days into the hike, so we didn’t need as much in the beginning.
WHAT WE HAVE PICKED UP:
- Icy Hot: Some people may claim this to be a waste of weight, that you’ll be sore anyways. Putting this on your knees before going to bed is worth the extra 3 ounces. Seriously- get some.
- Neosporin: Blisters kill. If it helps the blisters heal quicker, we are all for it!!
- KT Tape: I would recommend this for anyone dealing with any kind of joint pain. Thanks Brother Blood for the recommendation.
- Sock Liners: We now both rock a pair of men’s nylon dress socks underneath our hiking socks. Prevents friction and hot spots.
We’ve learned that there’s not one way to hike the AT, so take the above lists as you will and Hike Your Own Hike.
Below are some pictures of the past fiew days for your viewing pleasure.
Tomorrow we leave Georgia behind and push on into North Carolina! Happy Trails!
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