Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst
Last weekend Isaac and I went on a quick overnight backcountry trip at Abrams Creek, which is located in Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Abrams Creek Campground is in Happy Valley, and it’s only about 15 minutes from the goat farm where we live and work in rural Blount County, TN.
But the weekend didn’t go as planned. I originally planned this trip with a close girlfriend of mine whom I’ve known since high school, but life got in the way and it didn’t happen. Needless to say, I was a little bummed out. But I asked Isaac if he wanted to go, and he’s pretty much always down for a backpacking trip.
So we decided to go. Saturday rolls around and it turns out there’s a million things to do at the farm, so we end up spending most of the day working. At about 4 p.m. I start packing up, but I’m exhausted and overwhelmed and disappointed. Oh, and to add to the mess, I didn’t have a sleeping pad. I told Isaac we should just call it off, but he insisted that going would be good for me. He was right, of course. We managed to make it to our campsite before dark, and we ended up sitting around a lovely fire and enjoying the worst meal of lentils and quinoa I’ve ever made! (No, really. It was awful.)
The rest of the weekend went well and I’m glad we decided to go. Getting outside is the best vacation for the tired mind. But I learned a few valuable lessons, and I think they’ll be helpful to remember while I’m gearing up for our thru-hike.
My expectations are my own worst enemy.
I have a problem with expectations. I’m a very enthusiastic person, and I get excited about everything. When something new and exciting comes along, I tend to run with it and decide that I love it and it’s the best thing ever and everything is awesome.
Yeah. It’s exhausting. Because inevitably my expectations fall short, and I realize that this new thing isn’t actually the best thing ever. I’ve known that this is something I’ve struggled with for a long time, and acceptance is the first step, right? Moving forward, I’m trying to make sure that I don’t get too wrapped up in expecting for something to go a certain way. Patience is the hardest part, though—and that’s what I have to work on.
I’m going to be tired and cranky sometimes. That’s not a reason to give up.
Tired is going to be my normal on the AT. I’m gonna be sore, dirty, wet, and hangry most of the time. I should go ahead and get used to being tired but still putting my pack on and hiking a few miles.
Isaac and I are a team.
For all of my issues with expectations, I haven’t put that much thought into the fact that Isaac and I will spend six months on the trail together. And we’ll be together all the time. Through everything, night and day, every mile—he’ll be my partner. We’ll probably drive each other insane. But more importantly, we’ll also be stronger because of it. We’ll each have a built-in support system and a voice in our ear telling us we can do it. And best of all, we’ll experience the journey of a lifetime together.
Oh, and one more lesson. The blue Walmart sleeping pad that I bought last-minute since my inflatable pad was in the mail was useless. No bueno.
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