The Initiation of one Through Hiker

I’ve been on the trail now for almost 3 weeks.  It is hard to describe the mental adjustments that take place.

I guess the ups and downs of the Georgia trails tend to dictate in a general way what each hikers state of mind is at any given moment.  There is a definite “wow” factor associated with completing your first hard climb, but the the difficulty of an icy, steep, and rocky descent can change your mood to a sort of annoyed impatience.  After all, down hill is easier than up, right?  If you asked ten hikers whether up or down is easier you would probably get a 50/50 split.  Of course there are those giant lunged, elastic legged,preternaturally cheery young folk who move with ease and grace.  One such enthusiastic youth stopped on a steep, bouldery pitch on Blood Mountain where I was on my knees gasping for air.  He sincerely expounded on what a wonderful day we had for a wonderful climb in the wondrous mountains of Georgia. I kind of nodded and sagely responded with” oonka oonka fwee up far.”  I think if I’d cried he might have carried me to the top.  I convinced myself that it wasn’t a race.  I started taking what the climb would give me.  If it was five steps stop then twenty breaths go, that was fine with me. I got over that challenge and gave myself a sweat soaked “ataboy”.  Then I looked at the boulder field descent and started with the “oonka oonka” again.

So that gives you what a neophyte through hiker goes through initially.  On the up side, I find that as each day passes incremental improvement happens.  Five steps stop turns into fifty steps stop turns into 50yards stop.  You get the idea.  Small things will bring on a smile.  Like forcing yourself out of that toasty sleeping bag and breaking camp in subfreezing weather, or stopping to clean water before you’re  clear out.  Accomplishing the little things in a timely way is gratifying.

Tomorrow its time to cross Fontana dam and start on the Smokies.  I’m sure it will be a wonderful day.


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Comments 11

  • Slack Packhiker : Mar 8th

    Hiking in April and almost 63, I read this with great care. I know the going for will be rough, based on limited hiking recently in the Ouichitas. Oh, to experience the incremental changes! That’s huge, and congratulations, big congratulations, on your progress.

    I’m reminded of a group of young Boy Scouts that started their hike after me at Jean Petit State Park. They rolled past me like nothing, but as they stopped for breaks or lessons, here I’d come. It got to be great fun and we all enjoyed interacting (I had 3 dogs) periodically.

    Anyway, keep it up, and represent!

  • Peggy : Mar 8th

    Ed, you are inspiring. This is a metaphor for life, no matter how hard it gets, hanging in there shows progress and improvement. We love you.

  • Russ : Mar 9th

    Ed hang in there! I did the smokies Oct ’15 with my teenage son and we saw a bear a mile the first day, 2 in particular stayed in the trail and wouldn’t go away, got great pics. We started at springer 4 years ago so you aren’t moving that slow after all. I’d love to thru hike and will have to wait till I retire god willing. Peace be with you sir!

  • Kelisen : Mar 9th

    I love the way you tell your story and look forward to your future posts. I’m so impressed with your hard work and positive attitude. Keep up the good work Fast Eddie. I’m cheering you on from Kansas City!

  • Henry miller : Mar 9th

    Ed, very proud of you. I can definitely relate, since I’m 62. You are an inspiration to us all no matter the age.

  • Irvin Valle (coach) : Mar 9th

    I have been keeping up with your posts for a while, (started following this site last summer). I dont know when I read your 1st post but this made me crack up since I’m close in age. Keep on hiking and writing I’m looking forward to the next post.

  • Beth : Mar 12th

    Good for u! Don’t just dream it, do it!

  • Duffy : Mar 13th

    You rock, Fast Eddie!

  • Melissa : Mar 13th

    Great job! I’m a hiker and the Smokies are my home base. Enjoy our state and God speed!

  • Tim : Mar 13th

    Good job on your hike! I am leaving for Springer Mountain and on trail 3 April 2016. I plan to section hike with my 4 year old Boarder Collie. Want to know if its reasonable to cross Fontana Dam in 11-13 days. Ast this is where my ride will be picking me up.

  • Kelly : Apr 19th

    Way to go Ed! We just received a donation to Mayfield Foundation in your honor (I’ll send you a separate email about it) and so I immediately hopped online to see how you’ve been doing. I’d checked several times early on but hadn’t seen any posts, and was happy to see two posts up there. I laughed out loud at your response to the energetic young guy you encountered and was happy to hear you are making progress… and your 5 steps into 50 steps into 50 yards analogy is excellent. I learn so much about determination and stamina and a positive attitude from our patients and you are no exception. Keep it up keep it up!


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