Week one! Springer to Deep Gap
It’s been a good week! We’ve experienced all four seasons, and I’ve experienced pretty much my full range of emotions. The trail hasn’t made me cry yet, but climbing up to Tray Mountain Shelter two days ago at the end of our longest day yet, in anticipation of a thunderstorm that night, brought me close.
I’ve learned a lot these past eight days. 32 degrees is freezing (silly Americans – that makes no sense), you can get a sunburn on a cold cloudy day, and a little kindness goes a long way. I’ve learned to stop comparing myself to all of the people passing me on the trail, and figured out a pace that doesn’t leave me winded every 50 steps. I’ve started to figure out the difference between normal hiking pain and pain I should be paying attention to.
I’ve also started to really understand why people do this crazy hiking thing. I’ve been amazed so many times by the beautiful planet we get to live on. Every day has brought it’s own unique beauty, as the weather and scenery have changed.
Maybe even more than the incredible beauty of the nature around us, I have been amazed by what my body is physically capable of. Climbing a mountain or two in a day is becoming the norm, and for a couch potato like myself, looking back at a mountain I just climbed is a surreal experience.
I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m not willing to sacrifice my enjoyment of this experience just to be able to say that I’ve finished the trail. That was a pretty big “ah-ha” moment for me. Instead of defining a successful hike as making it to katahdin, I’ve decided that I will have successfully completed my mission when I run out of time, money, or trail. And I’m content with any of those three being the reason I come off the trail. Money was the big one. I have to keep a very strict budget if I want to stay on the trail for six months, and if that is going to mean a miserable six months, it’s just not worth it. I’ve given myself the freedom to make that money last four or five months instead, and that will make this adventure so much more enjoyable.
I’m sitting in the Top of Georgia hostel with a lot of my fellow hikers who are waiting out the snow this afternoon. Many of them have become familiar faces, and this community bond has grown really quickly. I’ve met people from all walks of life, and this adventure is bringing us all together. The energy of other hikers has been, and I’m sure will continue to be, the thing that keeps me going when I’m feeling discouraged or tired.
And on that note, I’m going to go spend some time around the fireplace with this amazing group of people.
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