Reframe, Trail Fame, and Rename going GA-ME
Working with youth for the majority of my life, I have always been good at seeing a strength where others may see a challenge. The bossy kid was a natural leader, the needy child was warm and loving, and the stubborn student was persistent. This is not just sugarcoating something to see it as the glass have full but recognizing the good even when it’s difficult. This last stretch of trail from Damascus to Dalesville has given me a lot of opportunities to practice this on myself, and this experience.
I had read that a lot of people quit in Virginia because maybe it’s too long, flatter, or not as exciting. I think the challenge comes from hoping that it will be any of those things because maybe that means it will be easier. Virginia is where a thru-hiker realizes that it’s not ever going to get truly easy. Even as you make it to the 1/3 of the way milestone you question your sanity in choosing this difficult adventure. Yes, a lot of things do become easier. You’re stronger and more skilled but there is always a big hill to climb or descend, a new ache or blister, and you miss your old comfortable life before stepping on the trail.
Here are some of my reframes that keep me going:
- Heavy pack = yummy food to eat! Every day lighter to the next resupply
- Cold Weather = no bugs!
- Hot weather = woods come to life, spring flowers and trees blooming
- Rain = better water supply, less likely wildfires
- The terrain is hard (steep up or down, rocky, or just tired) = mother earth is fair and I am always rewarded for efforts: beautiful view, a great campsite, town, or my traimily waiting to share the hike stories of the day.
- Any and all aches, strains, and pains = my body is amazingly capable of healing
- Miss my family, friends, and my bed = this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for me, they support me and how lucky to live in an age where you can text, call and face time!
Here is a list of my latest iconic trail moments:
- Wilburn Ridge Ponies
- Snakes on trail scare me to death
- Spring then unexpected last (hopefully) snowstorm
- Dragons tooth was a hard day’s climb. Mcafee knob and personally I thought more impressive was the Tinker Cliffs.
- Trees falling in the strong winds…the big crack and boom got me out of my bag quick one morning
- Hostels: Alpaca Farm, Bear Garden, Four Pines all Awesome
- Stopping at noon to take advantage of the sun and lounge by the creek AND so our injured traimily member could catch us
- Things I didn’t think I would do: asking strangers for rides, gas station dinner, drink unfiltered water (crazy thirsty and super safe source), hike 18 miles so could order pizza delivery at a shelter (Partnership)
As the trail changes so do I. Winter gray has given over to the green of spring, complete with wildflowers, butterflies, and millipedes. My trail mate offered me a new trail name Spitfire and I’m taking it. Steamboat worked in the beginning but it seemed to be more about where I was from and not who I am. Spitfire has a lot of meanings and references but it was given as a reflection of the skateboarder brand. I like that connection to the skater subculture that also embraces diversity, creativity and a break from mainstream society. I might also have a reputation for spitting fire when on the never ending uphill or about a number of issues I am passionate about 😬
The newness and excitement has not worn off for me but I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I do get very tired and feeling the physical toll on my body in the afternoons. I find myself wondering what exactly I’m doing out here. Then I remember my whys and my why now. I leave you with a great quote I kept on my wall above my computer at work that I love and repeat to myself often on the trail:
Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is the little voice at the end of the day that says I’ll try again tomorrow.
-Mary Anne Radmacher
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Love love love this and the new name Spitfire. Congrats on your 18 mile day and all of the mental toughness this far. Hoping for more healthy water sources in your future!!