Week 2- Constant Wonder

It has been two weeks on the trail.

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For two weeks I have slept under the stars, on tops of mountains or just under the ridge lines. Each morning, I wake to the sounds of birds chirping, and the walls of my tent illuminate with first sunlight. I lay in my sleeping bag at leisure, checking the guide book to see which mountains I’ll be climbing that day. I stuff the clothes I’ll be wearing at the bottom of my sleeping bag to warm them up as much as possible. Each morning, I gather my water bladder, filter and Nalgene and slowly meander my way to the spring to collect enough water to cook breakfast with and to get me through the first six miles.

My typical breakfast is two packets of oatmeal and protein powder, unless I’m anxious to get on the trail, and on those mornings I snack on a protein bar and a fruit wrap. It is a daily victory of patience to fit my sleeping bag in its compression sack without cursing out loud.

Some days I win, some I don’t.

Before I left for the trail, I couldn’t understand why so many people recommended no more than 8-10 miles per day during your first week. I get it now.

I am literally climbing mountains, every day.

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While this has had an inevitably profound effect on my mind and soul so far, my body is also rapidly changing. My feet have swollen from a size 8 to a 9.5. I have several blisters from the first few days that aren’t exactly healing, and I started developing a heat rash on my feet and ankles during longer days. My hips have giant bruises that cover the protruding bone. As much sunscreen as I apply, I still get burned on my arms and the tops of my hands, which developed small blisters after Day Four.

But none of that matters.

Every time I look to my left or right, all I can see are layers of mountain ranges. Five different shades of blue before the mountains fade into the sky. Every day I get stronger. Climbs that took the wind out of me just a few days ago already feel lighter. I’ve already hiked on trails so narrow that one of my hiking poles becomes useless, and on trails so steep that I have to throw my poles up ahead in order to use both hands for climbing. I’ve shared laughs, stories, and snacks with amazing people who already feel like long-time friends. I’ve been blessed with trail magic, groups of people who camp out near roads and happily offer hot food, cold beverages, and fresh fruit to hikers.

And so, even as I am hunched over with my spine at a 45 degree angle, huffing and puffing and unable to see the top of my climb, I am happy. I am whole, I am in a constant state of wonder.

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And I am always thankful.

 

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Comments 4

  • Avatar
    Grandmother : Apr 10th

    Love you Steph. I am so happy for you. Thank you for the blog.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Grandmother : Apr 10th

    Love you Steph. I am so happy for you. Thank you for the blog. I think about you every day 🙂

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Grandmother : Apr 10th

    Oops, guess I pushed the button twice! Oh well, it bears repeating.

    Reply
  • Avatar
    Nancy-roadmedic : Apr 21st

    Thank you for your blog…ill be heading out in June as a flip flop and can’t wait. good luck to you!

    Reply

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