Mindset Matters on the Appalachian Trail
I love typing up my daily journal entries. In fifteen years I will be able to remember the details of my thru-hike by reading these blog posts. I have started to fall behind on these daily entries since the cell service has become more scarce and I’ve been wanting to focus on being in the moment. So I am going to interrupt the day-to-day blog with a little real talk for you. I will of course continue to resume my day-to-day posts soon!
Recently I have arrived in New Hampshire and have less than 500 miles left until Katahdin. While in Vermont, a lot changed for me mentally. I had left my home state of Massachusetts, and with three states left, it felt like I was almost done. I soon realized that I was in fact NOT almost done. The realization that I still had over a month left on trail washed over me and I started to think about the comforts of home life. All I wanted was a bed and cotton clothes. I spent my first few days in Vermont counting down the miles until I would get to camp and be able to climb into my sleeping bag. This made me dread hiking every morning and it started to feel like a job.
After a lot of reflection, I realized this isn’t how I wanted the last month of my thru-hike to go. I want to enjoy this last stretch of my journey just as much, if not more, than the first four months of my thru-hike. As I hiked, I thought of solutions for my mental slump. I have started to implement these changes into my daily hiking routine. I have noticed changes both in my mood and my enjoyment of the hike. Although I will still have hard days where I cry up every uphill (yesterday was one of these days), I know if I put in a small amount of effort into changing my mindset, I will be rewarded with lots of positive outcomes.
Nightly Goal Writing and Manifesting
Throughout my hike, I have been journaling every night. I started this routine because it made blogging easier. I have now found that it has other uses and benefits. After a really hard day of solo hiking, I found myself wanting a way to ensure that the next day would be better. I wrote this down in my journal and soon found myself filling up a whole page with goals for the following day. I wrote, “I’m going to continue to make an effort to enjoy every moment as well as be in the moment. Tomorrow is going to be an amazing day full of fun and challenging uphills. I am excited for the challenge of the four-mile uphill to the summit of Killington.”
Just that morning I had been thinking about how much I was dreading hiking up Killington. It was going to be my first four thousand footer since Virginia, and I knew it was going to be a hot and sweaty climb. By switching my mindset from dreading the uphill into looking forward to the challenge, I was able to change my whole day. With this new perspective, I enjoyed the climb up Killington.
By writing down positive manifestations I am able to remind myself that I really do enjoy hiking. I thrive off of challenges so instead of dreading them, I want to seek them out and enjoy them.
Dance Parties and Singing
This winter while I was stuck inside due to COVID I found myself having dance parties by myself in my bedroom. It was a way for me to get my energy out and lift my mood. I felt so silly dancing around by myself that it would usually end in me laughing at myself. My fourth day in Vermont, I was feeling down. I didn’t know what to do about it so I decided to have a dance party.
Kelly Clarkson’s “Since U Been Gone” started playing and I began. I jumped around and screamed the lyrics as loud as I could. As the song came to an end, I instantly felt better. I felt the urge to laugh at how amazing dancing alone in the middle of the woods felt. I hiked on, with my sing-along playlist blasting in my earbuds. For the rest of the afternoon, I sang along to every 2000s pop song downloaded on my phone.
Although it may sound silly, dancing and singing like a five-year-old is one of the most reliable ways for me to change my mindset.
Photoshoots and Smiling
I love to smile. In almost every photo from the trail, I am smiling. Although these photos may make it appear that I am happy all the time, this is not true. I believe in fake it till you make it. For me, if I smile enough, I often start to feel happier. One day while I was bored hiking, I took out my phone and propped it up on a tree branch. I turned on the 10-second timer and began to take photos of myself while posing with my backpack and trekking poles. Every time the camera went off, I would put a big goofy grin on my face.
After spending fifteen minutes taking photos with self-timer, my mindset had changed. I was no longer bored and sad and instead enjoying my time being alone. Forcing myself to smile always lifts my mood and turns my mindset around.
Vermont was full of ups and downs as well as lots of learning and growth. I am excited to bring these changes with me as I hike through New Hampshire and Maine and to the finish line of Katahdin.
If you want more timely updates on my thru-hike, you can follow my Instagram @duck.goes.hiking
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