Life in First Gear
So today marks 1 month on the trail.Since the last blog, we’ve covered 120 miles. We’ve climbed out of the NOC, Fontana Dam, trekked through the Smokies, and over past Hot Springs. We’ve had amazing adventures with amazing people.
This past month has been full of highs, lows, new adventures and plenty of physical and mental setbacks. We may have moved a little slow to begin with, but we have got our “trail legs” and are really able to crank out some miles now. I think most of what we have learned can be summed up in one sentence.
2-3 mph is a beautiful way to live.
We both come from a fast-paced life. Prior to the Trail, we both worked steady 9-5 jobs that we loved. But too often we would find ourselves at the end of another week, wondering where the past 5 days have gone. We were simply riding along, holding on to the reins tightly, as to not get behind on bills, or let the house get too dirty, or feel like we were failing at “adulting”.
Needless to say, the past month has been a respite from those concerns. Not to say that living in the woods, homeless, without an income is easy- but it’s a planned struggle (which I guess makes it ok??).
I’m able to narrow down why I think that life at 2-3 mph is beautiful into 3 different reasons.
We are able to think.
Whether listening to music, or listening to the birds, or listening to wind, or walking in complete silence- I’m able to think. This is something I feel like I’m just coming into. I’m no longer a set of pre-programmed emotions, feelings, thoughts, and responses. I’m able to slow down and process.
For example: three days ago we were pushing through our 4th 15+ mile day in a row. I was tired, sore, and angry. Due to my complete lack of things to do (besides putting one foot in front of the other), I asked myself why I was so mad. I wasn’t mad at anyone, or for any particular reason, but simply because it was hard. This understanding shifted my attitude and mood completely. I then hobbled along to the shelter, still completely in pain- but no longer angry.
We focus on details
I can’t tell you how many times in my life I’ve walked across (or purposefully) stepped on an insect without a second thought. We now marvel at millipedes, butterflies, caterpillars, trees, and all life itself we come across- knowing that its existence is separate from our acknowledging it and that it will continue to be alive well after we’ve left. Life is a lot more beautiful when you stop to realize it’s alive.
Our interactions are reframed
Our interactions with people have changed. We are forced to have actual conversations- WITH STRANGERS BY GOLLY!! And it’s wonderful. We are choosing to struggle through the same 2,190 miles together, which creates a bond beyond comprehension.
Our interactions with nature have changed. With all the wildfires this year, we’ve realized that humans leave a bigger footprint than we think. Our negligence can cause so much destruction. The chipmunks that scuttle about around our tent could die because of actions we made. We are just another creature walking through their home.
When framed that way, it makes me feel incredibly small- which I think is just how we are supposed to be.
Thanks for all your love and support.
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Awesome couple. Keep on hiking. Summer Breeze.
Great post … made me think. I remember when I was hiking on the AT how it made me much more aware of weather (of course, no surprise there) but … of water. That’s something no-trail people take for granted. Even now, years after my big time afoot, I’m aware of how precious water is, and I try to never waste it.
Big smile with a big plate of food … every hiker posts photos like that! Eating is a pleasure when you’re hungry all the time … especially real food, cooked by other people.
That photo of the bald is fantastic. Where is that? I hope you don’t mind, but I lifted it and am using it as my screen background.
Obviously, springtime has caught up with you guys.
Keep walking, keep thinking, keep writing.