Skinny Legs and Uncombed Hair — the Life of an AT Thru-hiker
So we were sitting in a cafe in Hanover, NH, eating breakfast this morning when I suddenly realized that not only had I not showered or washed my face, but it hadn’t even occurred to me to comb my hair. Clearly I’ve been living in the woods too long! Which made me think about how much our lives have changed during the 700+ miles that we’ve been on this trek. Here is a partial list:
Our legs have gotten skinnier. So skinny, in fact, that two women in Massachusetts kept marveling about how thin they are. (They’re full of scratches and bruises, too, but they kindly didn’t mention that.) I hope they meant it as a compliment.
We walk with the infamous “hiker hobble,” a sort of bent over, mincing, shuffling gait common to thru hikers and people over 110. It’s worse when when we stop to rest because our knees completely freeze up. One example: we were in an Irish pub one night listening to music after several days of grueling hiking through the mountains in Vermont. John lurched so badly as he got up to cross the room that one of the musicians thought he was drunk. He called out to the bartender to “give the man another drink!” — then sang a rousing rendition of “What do you do with a drunken sailor.” (We saw him the following day and tried to explain.)
Coming across people wearing period costumes in the woods doesn’t faze us. Of course, since we are dressed in garbage bags, who are we to judge?
We measure our days in distance instead of time. We know exactly where to find more water. Doing laundry (in a machine) is actually fun.
And finally, we have more contact with animals than humans — whether it be listening to bird calls at 4am or fending off attention from some Jersey cows. Weird? You can decide. But at least we’re still having fun!
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