These Are a Few of My Favorite Things
Folks, let’s get real about the AT: it’s amazing. I’m more than 40 days and 400 miles into this journey, and I’m absolutely enjoying every minute of it. The list of things I love about this trail is as long as the climb out of the NOC, so today I’m just going to share my top five favorite things about the AT. Let’s do it.
Pre-trail me would be shocked that this made the list, but I’ve really been jamming on uphills for a bunch of reasons. First, downhills take way more concentration. Roots and rocks that you can power over on a climb are tripping hazards on a descent. I’m able to spend a lot more time looking at and enjoying my surroundings on the uphills. Second, uphills often lead to views. It feels worthwhile to work hard to catch some of those stunning mountain vistas. Finally, uphills make me feel strong. At the start of the trail, there were points where I had to stop every 50 feet to catch my breath. Now, I’m powering up 2,000-foot climbs without even taking a break. Plus, every time I post an Instagram, I get compliments on my banging calves.
I love lunchtime in real life, but I really love it on the trail. I’m constantly hungry, so getting to sit down and power down a ton of calories is a great thing. My favorite trail lunch is pepperoni, avocado, and hot sauce on a tortilla (followed by five to six servings of whatever candy I happen to be carrying). But, beyond the food, lunch is an opportunity to enjoy the people and places of the trail. I often eat lunch at a view or a shelter, and always with other hikers. Lunch always fills up my belly and my soul.
3. Hiking at the Ends of the Day
Because I love lunchtime so much (and it often becomes a multi-hour ordeal), I often need to hike in the early morning and/or into the evening to hit my mileage goals. Luckily, these have become my favorite times of day to hike. The low sun makes the trail a little cooler. As other folks break down/settle into camp, things are a little quieter. And, the rising/setting sun makes everything more beautiful (I’m a real sucker for some good komorebi).
2. The Community
Before starting the trail, I heard so much about the amazing AT community, but I didn’t really get it until I hit the trail. Of course, my fellow hikers are incredible people. They are the kindest, most supportive group I’ve ever encountered. They share stories and snacks, and look out for each other when times are tough. But, beyond the people actually hiking the trail, there are all the trail angels, hostel owners, townspeople, and former hikers providing additional support. During my time on trail so many of these folks have offered support in all kinds of different ways. David and Loraine drove up from Florida to make hot dogs for hikers. Pinecone (a 2018 thru-hiker) drove two other hikers and me over an hour to get back on trail after Trail Days. Fred, Camelback Santa, and Niel have bought me meals. Plus, in every town I visit, there are kind folks wishing me good luck and safe travels. This community is really something special.
1. Doing One Thing at a Time
Before coming on trail, I had a problem I didn’t even know that I had: I was an obsessive multitasker. I spent the majority of my time doing at least two things at once. I’d watch YouTube while doing the dishes, check Instagram while watching a movie, and fall asleep to a TV show. Being on trail has been a real lesson in slowing down and giving each task full attention. When I eat, I’m just eating. When I get to camp, I set up my tent. When it’s time to go to sleep, I lie down and close my eyes. Having fewer distractions in my life (like technology) has allowed me to be so present in each moment I spend on the trail. This presence is truly the greatest gift of all.
As always, feel free to reach out with any thoughts, questions, or reactions. And, forgive me for taking so long to post my first on-trail update. I’ve been so busy being present 😉.
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