Just Ninety More Days, and Still So Many Questions

Just 90  more days.  Ninety days to make sure my gear is what I want.  Ninety days to make sure my food is all in order.  Ninety days to make sure we make it to the trail.  Ninety days. I’m giddy with anticipation and scared I haven’t prepared enough.  I’m confident my gear is dialed in, but then I think I am missing something.

Any hiker, whether a section-hiker or a thru-hiker, has been exactly where I am.  I am sitting at my desk and thinking – 90 more days and I have 75 essays to grade this week.  I have 25 rough drafts to go over and yet… my feet will soon be on the AT and not standing in front of students teaching freshman composition.  Ninety days.

Doubts and Questions

I set my tent up in the family room the other day, climbed in and blew up my air mattress.  I just made a change to a long and wide pad from a regular.  I didn’t even know if it would fit.  But, thankfully, it did. I didn’t know if I would be able to still put my backpack at my feet like I wanted, and I could.  I didn’t know if I would be able to get the sheets on the air mattress and then the end of the quilt on the end of the mattress, but it also thankfully worked out.  So, no doubt on the tent, the sleeping system and the air mattress. The pack is also good to go – but do I leave the brain on or take it off?  Do I want to save myself those few precious ounces or do I want the convenience of the brain on the pack?  I don’t know.  I’m already carrying a Helinox chair to rest my back when I’m in a shelter, or eating lunch, or whenever I want to sit – is it too much?  Should I just sit on a log?  I’ve done that in the past and I’ve survived, but with the osteoarthritis in my lower back, will I experience less pain having the chair?  I don’t know.  I read Facebook pages of people going ultralight and using a sleeping bag liner, taking the clothes on their back and nothing else except maybe one pair of socks and underwear.  I have an extra shirt, shorts, underwear, base layer and two pairs of socks.  It it too much?

Confidence and Clarity

I have lost 105 pounds in the last year, so unless my pack, with everything in it, weighs 105 pounds, I am good to go and my body will still have less to carry.  I am capable of hiking the schedule I have set out for us because I have been working out, maybe not as often as I should, but we’re starting in Harpers Ferry, W.V., and I will get my trail legs and the trail will be my trainer.  I have done the best I can with my dietary needs – as complicated as they can be – and I can get into towns and make up what I lack.

I am ready for the dreary, monotonous days when it rains and the sun doesn’t shine.  Likewise, I cannot wait for those glorious, sunny days where I can stand on top of a mountain, like Avery, or Whitecap, or walk across Franconia Ridge and weep at the beauty I see.  I got this… in just 90 days.

 

Affiliate Disclosure

This website contains affiliate links, which means The Trek may receive a percentage of any product or service you purchase using the links in the articles or advertisements. The buyer pays the same price as they would otherwise, and your purchase helps to support The Trek's ongoing goal to serve you quality backpacking advice and information. Thanks for your support!

To learn more, please visit the About This Site page.

Comments 9

  • Avatar
    AndyB : Feb 14th

    You do have this. Remember, if something isn’t working out, gear or diet or schedule, change it. Send it home in the next town, have something shipped to a PO down Trail. The single biggest lesson the Trail, any trail, teaches me, every time I step foot on it, is “roll with it.” Sometimes I’m reminded quickly sometimes I have to relearn the lesson the hard way. You got this.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Stripper : Feb 14th

      Thanks for the encouragement! I know once I begin to put one foot in front of the other my confidence will increase. It’s a daunting dream, that’s for sure! I have sent things home, or ahead before, so I will always do that if I need to. My biggest concern is the food. I have such a weird high protein diet and while I will meet with my dietician before I go, I will still worry about it. But, I do know that I am not far from a town and I can get what I need while I’m out. I think I would be more worried if I weren’t concerned at all! (If that makes since!)

      Reply
  • Avatar
    AndyB : Feb 14th

    At least nearly everything come in pouches now, tuna, chicken, salmon, ect…that sure helps. I did the Long Trail a few years ago, my last long hike, and I bonked hard a few times because of my food. I think I was relying too much on protein, but mostly just wasn’t carrying enough food period. Going south from Harper’s Ferry?

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Stripper : Feb 14th

      I had the sleeve bariatric procedure a year ago and must eat 60+ grams of protein every day. So, I have freeze dried chicken in nearly all my dinners. I cannot eat a full pouch of chicken and cannot save it. I will eat tuna from time to time, but don’t want to go overboard with the mercury contamination. But luckily, I have found that chocolate Muscle Milk with instant coffee, and Nido powered milk is an awesome breakfast for me with 20 grams of protein.

      I will be hiking NOBO from Harpers Ferry, then back to Harpers Ferry and SOBO from there. The reason I am going to do it this way is that first, I’m a college professor and cannot begin my hike until May 15th. Second, my hiking partner is a college student in Florida and he has to finish his semester. Thirdly, if we do a flip/flop we do not have to run to Katahdin and are able to take our time. Then lastly, we can finish close to my hiking partner’s home state, so it will be easy for him to get home.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    AndyB : Feb 14th

    That sounds like a great hike. I’d like to go SOBO next time so I can be in the smokies in the fall.

    Reply
    • Avatar
      Ellie : Feb 15th

      We have friends who hiked the trail head to toe. They started the day after school let out in May, flying home the day before it started again August. Oh what a summer they had.
      Make lots of memories.

      Reply
  • Avatar
    Ellie : Feb 15th

    We have friends who hiked the trail head to toe. They started the day after school let out in May, flying home the day before it started again August. Oh what a summer they had.
    Make lots of memories.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Butch : Feb 15th

    50 yr old AT hiker. Took my Helinox Chair with me on 165 miles of AT last summer. LOVED it and used it daily. Many folks didn’t see the sense in carrying it. But sipping coffee in the AM and at lunch in my chair was my most relaxing and comfortable time on the trail, other than when I was asleep in my hammock. Best of luck.

    – Butch (trail name)

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Beth : Feb 15th

    Julie,
    You are an inspiration! I am also a teacher, so I feel you with those essays! I’m 56, at that age when I’m considered to be a “senior citizen”, a term I hate. I have Section hiked the AT up to Fontana Dam and will be doing the Smokies this summer. Would love to do a thru hike! Unfortunately, can’t take the time right now, but I know this will happen at some point. I get so many people telling me that a woman can’t do this alone! Yes, we can! Enjoy your hike. I’m looking forward to hearing about your experiences!

    Reply

What Do You Think?