More Miles, More Tears, More Smiles

I’m here in a cozy bed in Caratunk at the cutest B&B I’ve ever laid eyes on. Apparently the milkshakes here are to die for, but being dairy free I’ve just watched with wishful eyes as my friends consume theirs. The men who run this place are incredibly kind, sweet, and very knowledgeable. Again I’m overwhelmed by the kindness of people out here and their thoughtfulness. Both Shaw’s and this B&B have had incredible food and been so accomodating with my gluten and dairy free needs. That’s pretty rare. I am so grateful for the kindness these people have shown me.

As I hike in the morning I tend to reflect on my journey. I’ve been lost in thought a lot recently. My friend Meat has a good way of classifying this adventure. When the talk of others quitting comes up I’ve noted that he has the most unique response. He says he signed up for this 4 month adventure and the trail is simply life now – quitting isn’t even an option. I resonate so much with that. I haven’t once contemplated quitting. I’ve just focused on acclimating myself to trail life.

Since I wrote my last post, multiple people have asked me how I’m doing, if I’m planning to keep going, and so on. I keep asking myself the same questions, checking in to make sure I’m happy. The thing is, I am happy. But I am also adjusting. I am quieter out here. I don’t always have a lot to say. I’d rather just keep quiet than complain some days because I’m happy and grateful to be out here. I’d rather let the cries escape some days when the pain becomes too unbearable rather than complain. I’m learning that when my body begins screaming and I start crying and moving super slow it’s usually my red flag to stop, and not push any further. It’s funny how being out here has really taught me to check in with my body and listen. Do I need to eat, do I need water? Do I need to rest? Stop and pee? It’s a constant checking in. I also check in to see if I’m really present in my body, or just floating around and going off in my head because of the pain. I realize sometimes I get so lost in my thoughts I forget to pay attention to all the beauty around me. I’ve been without my glasses since Monson, and I got my box today  with them. I was amazed at how beautiful everything is. My last few days have been quite blurry.

I’ve noticed that I’ve shifted into a better head space than before. I don’t think about how many miles to go until Georgia, I don’t even let myself look much more than a few days ahead on the map only to map out my next food stop. I’ve been thinking about it, and I realize the trail really brings out the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Yet every day still has something sweet to offer. For example Saturday was a terrible day for me and then I ran into Fjord, a NOBO I’ve been following since February that I was hoping to meet. I came out of my shelter because I heard a female voice among all the men at our site and there she was. She helped me check my back for ticks because I was terrified I had one on me and instantly her sunshine made the day a little sweeter. Thanks, lady!

The trail has brought out the best in me and the worst in me. I’d like to focus on the best parts, the sheer determination I’ve found within my vessel. I’m realizing how much of a fighter I am, despite the setbacks and pain. At the end of the day, I love what I’m doing. I love living so simply, only focusing on the miles between me and my next stop. I wake, pack up, pee, eat, stretch, hike all day, then eat again, set up camp, and fall asleep by 9 most days completely exhausted. Here my worries are different. Will I run out of water at the top of this mountain before I get to the next source? Will a bear eat me alive in my tent? Is my hiker stench making so-and-so hiking behind me convulse? Will I make it to the next city without getting injured? Will I make it to the next lean-to before sundown? The worst parts, I’d hate to call “the worst” because I don’t think they’re really that bad at all. I think they’re just qualities of myself that are asking for more love and acceptance. They are the ground zeros I get to grow from, and the parts of me that asked to be loved the most.

I still don’t quite know why I’m out here, but I can feel it in depths of my bones that there is a very good reason, one I’m meant to discover as I go. I know I felt the calling in my heart to hike and so I trust that inner knowing.

I have grown so much already and while it’s incredibly challenging and painful I still love it and love what I’m doing, even if I’m not happy every moment. I also have come to the realization that I didn’t come to the trail to find happiness, I came to the trail to cultivate a meaningful and simple existence and to challenge the limiting beliefs that I’ve grown up with that my body wasn’t strong enough or couldn’t make it. I came to learn how to face the discomfort and find ways to embrace it – hopefully in a gentle manner. I’m learning that I can, in fact, make it. I can do it. Even if it’s one baby step a mountain at a time. With all the really hard things I’ve done in my life, I’m learning that they are simply broken down into a series of small tasks, like nursing school. Every time I got a syllabus I swear I’d give myself an ulcer from the stress until I learned later down the road to stop looking ahead and just focus on what needed done in the present. It was manageable that way. I’m finding the same is true with this hike.

And so although it’s been challenging, I kind of dig it. I don’t think I’d love it so much if I didn’t have to pour every ounce of myself into the experience and give 120% every step of the way. Having fun and still walking. We’ll see what this next stretch of miles has to offer. Until next time…

Love and snap peas,

E

 

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Comments 4

  • Eye4Hawk : Jun 20th

    Emily,

    You are doing a fine job…! Be proud of your accomplishments.
    Have a Happy Day and live your life in the same way.

    PMA———-Positive Mental Attitude

    Reply
  • Cindy : Jun 21st

    Very good luck! Sounds like you are doing well. I was in nursing school 40 years ago and am thinking of a thru AT hike in the near future. I am wondering which is harder, nursing or thru hiking. may find out soon 🙂

    Reply
  • Backfire : Jun 21st

    You really put your feelings out there with this post. That’s not an easy thing to do. You have a good attitude and are learning a lot about yourself. Glad there is a B&B in Caratunk again. There was one in 2002 but not when I went through again in 2007. Maine was my favorite state on the Trail but every state will have it’s highlights.

    Reply
  • Steven : Jun 22nd

    Glad things are going great for you, stay positive and never think about quitting, I know when I finally get to hike this trek I will be telling myself the same thing! Stay safe and keep hiking!:)

    Reply

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