GA: Is Hiker Insomnia a Thing?

Neels Gap, Mile 31.3

A week on trail. It’s been a week since I’ve unloaded a dishwasher, walked my dog, or checked my email. It’s been a week of walking in the woods, making my bed every day, and meeting new friends.

Doesn’t it sound perfect? It’s almost heaven to me. But I don’t know, y’all. I have not had one good night of sleep yet.

I spent my first night at Springer Mountain Shelter

Restless Nights

Pre-trail, I was getting six to eight hours of sleep every night, anywhere from 11:00 p.m.-9:00 a.m. On trail, the sun sets and unless we’re up around a campfire or playing uno, pretty much everyone goes down for the night. Hiker midnight hits around 8:00-9:00 p.m. Aside from the shuffling of synthetic on synthetic as everyone adjusts throughout the night, almost no one is up until sunrise. So we’re talking potentially 12 hours horizontal. Ask my college roommates, and you’ll learn that I only spend that much time in bed after a rugby game or when I’m really sick. Needless to say, it’s a lot of time laying down. Looking back on the last few nights, I’ve spent a good bit of it awake. As I wait for sunrise, I do what my mom used to tell me when I couldn’t fall asleep: “Close your eyes and rest.” Does an adult get used to so much sleep? Is this why old people love naps? The prospect of this makes me concerned for post-trail life. Pray for me.

Likely messing up the words to Miley Cyrus’ song “The Climb”

Trail Life

One aspect of the trail I have truly looked forward to is the simplicity. It’s real. We wake up with the sun, usually enjoying a leisurely breakfast of oatmeal or granola bars. The boys (my friends Derek and Lee) drink coffee. We pack up our tents and food. I wash my face and brush my teeth. We walk for hours, stopping to catch our breaths after tough ascents and snacking throughout the day. We sing songs and ask questions. When we come across a creek, we filter water, and I soak my toes and sore knee. I try to find a tree to climb. We get to camp mid/late-afternoon and set up our tents, airing out sleeping bags and shoes. I stretch, maybe dig a cat hole if nature calls. We eat dinner together, hang our food in the bear bag, and brush our teeth again. We talk until the sun goes down, and then we tuck into our sleeping bags for the night.

Derek, Lee, and I at some overlook, somewhere

We live by the light now. Man, am I gonna have the best circadian rhythm here in a few weeks.

We hum to ourselves while we walk. We sleep, eat, and live outside, regardless of the wind, rain, or sun. We are learning about our Maker, our companions, and ourselves. We have passed the quitting tree, and we walk on.

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Comments 8

  • Homeward : Apr 4th

    Congratulations on making it past the quitting tree! I like your style and your approach to all of this. The sleep will come when your body is tired enough 😉.
    Thanks for letting us share your experience!
    All the best,
    Homeward, Class of 2016

    • Emilia Grunden : Apr 10th

      I appreciate you, Homeward!! Thank you.

  • Julie T, : Apr 4th

    Em. Great job. Live watching the videos with you in it. This all gives me “itchy feet” but not for such a long hike. 😉
    We love you. We are praying for sustainable energy and deep sleep for you.
    This coming December I look forward to hearing in-person tales of your adventure and hugging your neck. 😘

    • Emilia Grunden : Apr 9th

      What a joy it will be to see you! Love you guys!!

  • Rich Gough : Apr 4th

    What an amazing opportunity! Can’t wait to watch and read about this adventure. I have wondered if I would be able to hike the entire trail. I am always happy as a “solo” person, but the thought of 6 months with little contact might be a bit much. Glad you have found some companions to journey with. Looking forward to your next update.

    • Emilia Grunden : Apr 10th

      Hey, Mr. Gough! I felt comfortable with the idea of walking solo, but now could not imagine my hike without this unique crew. I’m so grateful God brought them across my path. Thanks for reading!

  • Michael Redden : Apr 7th

    Hello Emilia, I’m praying for sleep for you and I’m excited to read about your adventures!

    • Emilia Grunden : Apr 9th

      Thank you for your prayers!!


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