I’m a Survivor, and I’m Gunna Make It

Throughout my past blogs I have remained extremely optimistic and positive, which is representative of my attitude 99 percent of the time, but just like any other part of life there are bad days. Just imagine; I have been on trail for just under two months, living in the elements, doing the most physically demanding activity I have ever attempted, so bad days are inevitable.  I had one particularly tough day and I finally got why other people quit.

It is ironic that the day before my friend Milkeye and I were discussing this concept of how tough thru-hiking is, what a daunting task walking 2,190.9 miles is, and how we sympathize with people who decide to get off trail but honestly I still hadn’t reached the point where thoughts of quitting flooded my mind. But, as time would tell, the next day was that day for me.

It started the same as most other days. I woke up, ate breakfast, and rolled out of camp for a 19-mile day, but from the second I started hiking I could tell something was different. Neither the weather nor the terrain were particularly bad but it was not my day. My legs felt like they were made of lead, my pack felt like someone snuck bricks into it, and my eye lids struggled to stay open.

At about noon, after almost two hours of hiking, I decided a break would do me good. I found a flat piece of ground on the side of the trail and sat down for an early lunch. I ate a tuna wrap and some pretzels but I just couldn’t feel the fuel working, so I decided to take a nap. I set an alarm for 30 minutes and lay down. I fell asleep instantly and when my alarm went off I awoke confused about where I was with a puddle of drool on my arm. I thought to myself that such a good power nap was bound to help me hike faster. I packed up, put a podcast on, and set out. Unfortunately, I still felt sluggish.

At this point, I started doubting my ability to complete the 19 miles that day. I felt like I still had forever to go. After another few miles I rolled up on a shelter and decided to take another nap. I lay down and asked my friend Aladdin, who was at the shelter eating lunch, to wake me up in 15 minutes. Again, I fell asleep instantly. When he woke me up I knew nothing had changed but still I persisted. I put my pack back on, ate a Reese’s Fast Break candy bar, popped in my headphones, and decided to go as far as my tired feet could take me.

The longer I hiked the worse I felt. I sat down on so many rocks and cried that day because I felt like my body and mind had betrayed me. Suddenly the idea of walking from Georgia to Maine sounded as crazy to me as I am sure it sounds to most people. I just couldn’t understand how anyone successfully thru-hikes. I started to question all of the gear I had in my pack because it was simply so heavy. And just as I thought it couldn’t get any worse it started to storm. It was the lowest I’ve felt on my thru-hike and I had enough. I sat down and pulled out my phone and as usual I had a text from my mom asking how I was doing and I texted her back, “I am exhausted. Today sucks.”

Honestly, I don’t know how I did it but I prevailed and I made it to camp just before the sun went down. As I walked into camp I saw Milkeye and my eyes started to tear up again because I was just so happy to have made it. He and I talked for a couple of minutes while I set up camp and hung my bear bag, but then I went to bed. I was so frustrated that I didn’t even eat dinner. I was asleep by 9 p.m. and I didn’t wake up until 9 a.m. the next morning. I slept for 12 hours straight. I woke up and gave Handstand a giant hug because I was still feeling low and being with my friend made me feel so much better.

That day was scary. I think I can attribute most of my bad mood to exhaustion. It is easy to get worn out by hiking all day, every day, which is why it is so important for me to remember the importance of a good night’s sleep, eating semi-healthy, and listening to my body when it says to slow down. I have already put so much time, money, and effort into this thru-hike and I am determined to make it to Mt. Katahdin. Like I’ve said before, I have found joy out here. I seriously love hiking but now I truly understand why people get off trail. It is nice to remember that for every bad day out here there are about 50 good ones; at least that is my ratio so far. So I will keep on trekking.

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