Trail Update: Learning to Accept What Is
Greetings from mile 177.7! I have been on trail for a bit over three weeks, and quite literally the world is a different place. I am feeling very grateful to be out in the woods these days. ***Apologies for the lack of images. I am uploading with very limited cellular coverage.***
To start, a recap! Tonight I am writing from my tent, enjoying some quiet as the fog rolls in over Mollies Ridge. My first few nights were not as peaceful. While I only started my hike about a week earlier than most thru-hikers, I was caught in two days of snow, a week of sustained temperatures in the 20s, and of course lots of rain. I have never been so cold or wet in my life, and morale was low for everyone out hiking. My first week was filled with learning experiences. I didn’t drink or eat enough, my layering system left me sweating with no dry camp clothes, and some afternoons were spent in survival mode trying to stay warm. Hiawassee brought a welcome shower and warm meal. I was able to resupply and adjust my sleep system with a visit to the outfitters.
Things got better as the weather warmed up! Days got easier as my body slowly began to adjust to what I was asking it to do. Week two pushed through Georgia and into North Carolina, and finally it felt like progress was being made. A trip into Franklin, and a stay at Gooder Grove reunited me with some of my favorite hikers from early on. It was a welcome and needed surprise!
This week, things finally are feeling like a well-oiled machine. I am able to hike longer miles in less time. I have my eating down (simply eat a lot), and I am able to set up and breakdown camp with ease. I am not part of a trail family; however, I have met some amazing people and one of my favorite parts of the day is to see who rolls into camp.
These first weeks have been immensely challenging for me. It has been extremely hard for me to let go of the fact that most of what happens on the trail is out of my control. I cannot control the weather, I cannot control if the shelter is full (and it’s pouring rain), and I can’t fully control how my body feels each day. I was really surprised that I was homesick at the start. I still really miss my family, loved one, friends, and community. I am learning to be OK with being soggy. I am trying to accept that sometimes my feet won’t carry me the extra four miles I wanted to get in. I have dealt with two big falls, both probably due to being exhausted.
The past couple days have been filled with talk and relayed news about COVID-19. I am not able to understand the mood at home; the only thing I can be sure of is it feels healthy to be outside moving my body. I am very fortunate to be able to spend my days in nature, hiking in solitude, responsibly interacting with my fellow hikers at camp, and falling asleep cozy in my tent.
I am excited to continue on! The rest of the Smokies promise the beauty of spring, and I can’t wait to see what else this journey has to offer.
Featured photo courtesy of Stacia Bennett.
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