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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