Just the Beginning
Trail Update – Days 1 Through 11
Everyone has different reasons for hiking, and not everyone shares their reasons or opens up about their lives off of the A.T. I haven’t opened up about one particular detail because I fear judgment and I’d like people to know me as myself, rather than as “the pregnant hiker.” Because of this, not many people on trail know that I’m pregnant, but the ones who have found out have been supportive and encouraging.
I did so much pre-trail research (as does nearly every hiker). I researched the major topics that you all know and love, but also some unconventional topics. For instance, hiking clothes for pregnant ladies (or lack thereof), more nutrient-dense foods than traditional hiker food (i.e. homemade pemmican and jerky), women’s health clinics and Planned Parenthood along the trail (places to do ultrasounds/prenatal check-ups), and other precautions for backpacking while pregnant. So far, I think my research has paid off, as I am taking it slow, eating well, staying hydrated, and am in no way close to being injured. I meant to write a pre-trail blog post, but I was so busy making jerky and figuring out my gear. I’ll share my pre-trail thoughts and fears at a later time, with some gained perspective.
Here’s a brief itinerary from my first 11 days on the Appalachian Trail:
Day 1: Amicalola Falls to Springer Mountain Shelter (9 miles)
Day 2: Hawk Mountain Shelter (7.9 miles)
Day 3: Gooch Mountain Shelter (7.6 miles)
Day 4: Woody Gap/Above the Clouds Hostel in Suches, GA (4.8 miles)
Day 5: Neel Gap/Above the Clouds (10.8 miles)
Day 6: Low Gap Shelter (11.5 miles)
Day 7: Blue Mountain Shelter (7.3 miles)
Day 8: Unicoi Gap/Hostel Around the Bend in Hiawassee, GA (2.4 miles)
Day 9: Steeltrap Gap (7.4 miles)
Day 10: Dicks Creek Gap/Around the Bend (9.3 miles)
Day 11: ZERO in Hiawassee, typing this post at the library (0 miles)
So, my average mileage per day is starting pretty low, at around 7 mpd. I am trying not to “keep up” with friends I’ve made on the trail. This also allows me to make new friends.
Blogging on the Trail
I’m having difficulty keeping up with my thoughts. My first morning at Above the Clouds hostel in Suches, GA, I told Lucky and Nimrod that my thoughts woke me up at around 2 am. Lucky asked, “You’ve never been woken up by your thoughts before?” to which I responded, “I never knew thoughts could wake you up.” I use a recorder my husband gifted me before embarking on this journey, and it’s so nice to use when I have philosophical tangents running through my head in the middle of the day. I am also too tired to write in my notebook at the end of the day.
What I’ve learned in my first week and a half on trail:
- While I always knew that I am a morning person, I learned that I don’t hike well in the morning. I like taking my time to enjoy the morning, which gives me energy and motivation for the rest of my day. For example, being the last person at camp is now my favorite thing. At Steeltrap Gap, I cooked breakfast while letting the sun warm me up, and didn’t get anxious as hikers from previous campsites passed by.
- It’s okay to take your time, and to take it easy. For instance, I slackpacked one day in Suches, southbound from Neel Gap to Woody Gap, because I wanted to get some miles in without straining my back on Blood Mountain. I also took two days to get from Unicoi Gap to Dicks Creek Gap because I wanted to strengthen my body without straining it. I realized that I enjoyed these hikes much more, like the view from Preacher’s Rock. I also don’t reflect back on Tray Mountain and Kelly Knob as annoying geological structures, but as exciting experiences.
- Don’t get me wrong, the A.T. is HARD, but it’s possible to enjoy it without getting sucked into the competition.
Being Pregnant on the Trail
When people ask me about being pregnant on the trail, I usually answer defensively, anticipating accusations about how well or poorly I’m taking care of my body. While I am eating more sugar and refined carbs than I have in years than I would be if I was home, I am making most of my food consumption deliberately – also known as intentional eating.
I feel good; not drained or tired. Only my muscles and feet are sore, which is a good sign.
My Major Complaint: Peeing on the Trail
I have no problem peeing outdoors. I’ve done it for years, especially during the three I served in the IDF. I prefer it to public restrooms. However, currently on the A.T., it is difficult to find greenery to hide behind, except for poison ivy (which I caught already). I have always had a weak bladder, but being pregnant means that I have to pee every 30 minutes (I am not exaggerating). I am also a slow hiker, so I never know when someone is about to pass me. Just the other day, as I was about to pull my pants down, the guy who I knew was somewhere behind me came down the trail. So I just stood there between all the bare trees and bushes, waiting for him to pass so I can relieve myself. Thankfully he didn’t try to start a conversation. But I’m fairly certain he knew.
This section will be ongoing throughout my journey, but here are a few changes I’ve made or am planning to make when I get to my next destination:
- Lighter, smaller tent
- Lighter, smaller pack
- Lighter, better sleeping pad
- Maternity base layers
- Shopping for a skirt or dress (peeing sucks!)
Most of my clothing “mistakes” happened because I just grew out of my regular hiking attire so fast and didn’t want to order stuff that might not fit me anyway. On the bright side, the girls I met on trail have given me plenty of skirt recommendations, some with an elastic waistband.
My new trail name: Basco
At Hawk Mountain Shelter I met a lovely hiker named Frosty. He offered to share his Cholula hot sauce and I got so excited! I couldn’t believe I didn’t pack hot sauce for myself. I joked that I would start following him just for the sauce and he wanted to name me after it. Since I didn’t like “Lula” I told him about my relationship with Tabasco as a baby. The way my mom recalls it, I used to scream for “‘basco” from my high chair and refused to eat my food if it didn’t have the added spice.
I post much more often on Instagram, but I’m planning on taking a day off every week or so to post on The Trek. Thank you for your support!
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