Learn As You Go and Forget the Rest
I’ve been on trail for a month now and it has been a roller-coaster of a time. Things have not gone as I had expected and I am thankful for that. I have been faced with many new challenges and experiences that have been fun and hard to overcome. I’ve learned a bit but still have so much to see and do and understand.
Here are some things I’ve learned in my first month.
1. If you plan on doing the approach trail, do it. If not, totally skip it. It’s a lot of up for the first day but boy does it feel good to get to Springer Mountain after that climb.
2. Hiker conversation will always go to food, trail news, gear, and back to food.
3. Don’t run downhill with almost full pack weight. Your knees will hate you.
4. If a tall, bearded man yells “Beer” at you at 10 in the morning, stop walking and get that breakfast beer. Trail magic is good for the soul and so is beer.
5. You have to embrace the suck but you also have to be smart about the suck. If your gear is not good for the weather don’t feel bad about getting off trail to wait for it to pass. If you hurt yourself don’t tough it out to the point of having to get off trail for good. I’m out here to hike the AT, not die on the AT.
6. Wet is fine. Cold is fine. Wet and cold are not fine.
7. Sometimes you hike up to one of the big must-see views on cloudy days and all you can say is, “What a view.” Fog is truly breathtaking.
8. You really do spend a lot of money in town so be careful, but always eat breakfast before hiking out because breakfast is the best.
9. Having your tent flood is the best way to learn how to set up your tent properly so it never happens again.
10. Crying is OK, so if you need to cry, do it.
11. Take the side trails sometimes. The views are worth it.
12. Always check out the hiker box for good food. One of the best places to resupply.
13. The people out here are amazing and at the end of the day we are one big trail family looking out for each other.
14. That loud thumping sound you hear that sounds like a fast heart beat or helicopter. It’s not in your head and nothing is wrong with you. It’s a bird. I didn’t know this info for a long time and was very relieved to find out that it was not me but nature.
15. Singing “Three Little Birds” by Bob Marley will make things alright.
16. The hiker hunger is real and it will control you.
17. All of your info comes from other hikers. It might not always be the most accurate but it works. I call it the trail talk network.
18. There is no such thing as only downhill days. They are a myth. Maps lie, and if it looks easy, it’s not.
19. Beautiful days don’t always mean big miles.
20. If you find cookies and jam hidden under some sticks the only thing to do is make a sandwich and share it with everyone.
21. You need bigger shoes than you would think. Your toes need wiggle room.
22. No matter how many miles you do in a day, if a dog is at your campsite or shelter you have had a successful day.
23. What goes up must come down and what goes down must go up.
24. Have fun because you earned it, my dudes. The trail is meant to be enjoyed.
25. The trail will test you over and over and over again. It makes you prove you really want to be out here, but the trail also provides. It takes care of you and somehow things work out when they need to. That’s the magic of it all.
This month has been full of so many big climbs and low moments. I’ve met tons of amazing people who I’m always excited to see at camp or in town. I’ve eaten some crazy food combinations and have eaten more food then I thought I could. I’m thankful for everything I’ve gotten to see and do and ready for the next round of challenges and experience.
-Much love, Bear Box
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