One Month(ish) on the AT – Lessons and Milestones
A Few Accomplishments
I started! This may just be the biggest accomplishment of all.
Crossed into North Carolina. One state down. Woohoo!
Made it 100 miles and enjoyed a few brews at Lazy Hiker Brewing in Franklin, NC. Also got treated to a free pancake breakfast at a church. They took our photos and mailed them out along with letters we wrote to our families.
Enjoyed a sunset and sunrise at the 200-mile mark with great friends. It was one of my favorite days on the trail so far.
Hit 300 miles and feeling very accomplished!
And of course a few of trail magic moments… orange juice!
We Learn, We Grow
My first day on the trail seems so far away. I feel like a different person. This may sound a bit hyperbolized, but it is the absolute truth. I have gained humility and confidence—two qualities I once believed canceled each other out, but now see as equally vital components of being a successful thru-hiker. Out here there is no place for ego. I learned very quickly that no question should go unasked—always seek out answers to whatever you’re unsure of. Be open to the idea that everyone comes out here with a different skill set. Help others when you can and seek help from others when you need it. I have found that adopting this perspective benefits not only yourself, but the entire trail community.
Friendship Is Never Far Away
If solitude is what you desire coming out here, companionship will be something you will have to actively deny. Friendship is an almost inevitable part of the trail and I have zero problem with that. When you’re out here facing the elements, having people to spend time with is the sweetest of feelings. However, the nature of the trail is that these connections happen as quickly as they fade—mostly a result of different paces and hiking styles. It’ll be hard to leave that crew that makes you feel comfortable and loved, but sometimes you have to listen to what your body is telling you and that may mean speeding up or taking an extra zero. That being said, you never know when you’re going to see that person you befriended on day two and it will be the most joyous of reunions—even if you did only know each other for 16 hours.
Go With the Flow
Things will not go as planned. This is as true of real life as it is of trail life, but perhaps a bit clearer to see out here. Your decisions are heavily influenced by factors that are out of your control—weather, sickness, lack of morale. There will be days that you push 20 miles and feel on top of the world and days that you are struggling to finish ten. I often have to remind myself that this is not a reason to give up or feel less than, but instead a natural element of a thru-hike. At this point, 300 miles in, I have realized that nearly every plan I’ve made has changed throughout the day and sometimes within an hour of making the plan. Long story short, I don’t do much planning anymore. I just hope for the best and do what I can with what I’m given. In this moment, I feel I’m exactly where I’m meant to be. Perhaps all the twists and turns the trail has taken, figuratively of course, occurred just so I could gain a sense of comfort in life’s unpredictability.
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