The “M” Word

But first, a Pop Quiz –

The hardest part of walking 2000 miles with your house on your back,  i.e. your personal Appalachian Trial, is coping with:

  1. Bears
  2. Shelters with snoring sleepers, snakes and smelliness
  3. Endless Ramen
  4. Sore knees and feet
  5. The M word

I strongly suspect that my own biggest issue will be “5,” with a generous helping of “4” on the side.

However, with full disclosure, I should probably amend this with, “but what do I know?” And you may also be thinking WTH is the “M Word”?

Since this is my first blog for Appalachian Trials, here is a brief intro.  Like many of you, I read Zach’s book while doing my homework on the trail. To paraphrase an old ad, I wouldn’t leave home without it on my iPhone.  Also, like Zach pre AT, I have basically no experience backpacking and camping.  (Unless you count camping with the Girl Scouts or one night in the woods at Bob “Sir-Packs-a-Lot” Gabrielsen’s Appalachian Trail School.)  However, unlike Zach, I am fairly old.  Not quite Grandma Gatewood old, but getting there.  Those scouting days were well over 40 years ago. Bob’s school helped a lot, but I am still an almost backpacking virgin.  However, I do have three granddaughters and one of my reasons for hiking is for them to remember me as the most badass grandma ever.

So back to the M word – and some talk about knees…

On days where the air is crisp and dry and the views go on forever and you have that feeling of bliss at the end of the day….life and its goodness wash over you.  Utter peace.  But on the days where it rains, and it snows and there are no views and millions of rocks…ahh, what then?  The M word here is motivation. How do you get it back when that one cold/rainy/rocky day turns into day after day after day?  I know that steep downhills will also put my old knees on red alert, turning discomfort from being cold and wet, to being cold, wet and in PAIN.  I don’t have the answer here – beginner, remember?  But life has taught me some lessons in motivating and motivation, and I am going to give them a try to see how well they extend to hiker life.

First of all, I am a firm believer that negativity breeds negativity.  So, not to go all Pollyanna-ish on you, but I plan to avoid negative people with more care and determination than any bear or snake.

Secondly, I plan to do all I can to avoid being a Negative Nellie myself.  I know that food on the trail won’t be lobster risotto and steak, but it doesn’t have to be all Ramen all the time, either.  I LOVE to eat and I love good food.  So with inspiration from Judy “Heartfire” Gross, I have begun dehydrating.

My husband's famous Lobster Risotto

My husband’s famous Lobster Risotto

Third, I also know that, when tired at night, I can really hit a wall.  So that means getting settled in and fed and doing it quickly.  That rules out preparing food in cooking pots and having to clean them.  I plan to use the Freezer Bag Cooking method to rehydrate my food. I will share some details about this and other homemade gear in a future blog.

Fourth, on the AT Nutella is one of the basic food groups.

One of the basic four

One of the basic four

And, lastly, I plan to employ the 2:1 method that I have used when coaching teams at work.  In order to improve team performance and concurrently prevent gripe* fests, I utilized team debriefing sessions after customer presentations.  My rule was for each team member to provide their peers with input on one thing their teammate could improve upon, and two things that went well.  It encouraged the team to be open and allowed us all to raise our game.  So my goal in blogging is, for every negative comment about trail life and all it encompasses, I need to include two positive things.  Keep me honest!

I am hoping that this will help keep the M word on my side, and if it falters, there are always Zach’s infamous lists… and the thought of burgers, fries and ice cream in the next town.

*Substitution of another five-letter word beginning with B is totally acceptable

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