Weeks 7 & 8: “Are We There Yet??” Thoughts from the Quarter-Way Point
I apologize dear readers. I didn’t post last week. Well, truthfully I haven’t had much cell service, except for a brief stay in Marion which I ended up stalking my peers on Facebook and Instagram. #priorities
So what has happened since I last wrote? I left Damascus and mailed home most of my winter gear. I marveled at how light my pack felt, then the weather instantly turned cold. It became the question of whether it was better to be warm or light. Not sure that has been determined. I ate pizza at the pizza shelter (aka Partnership shelter). Saw some ponies. Didn’t swim in Dismal Falls. Went on a treasure hunt.
A lot has happened.
As always, several big milestones were crossed. I hit the 500 mile mark. Then shortly after hit the quarter-way mark. However, more importantly I went 10 days without bathing and almost 2 weeks without washing any of my clothes. I hadn’t really experienced that hiker funk moment of, “Wow, I smell,” until I was sitting in my tent a couple of days ago trying to figure out what that terrible smell was and I realized it came from my feet. Less than pleasant, I’m sure it’s a moment that will be reprised as I continue my journey north.
Where I am Found Now
Today I am in Pearisburg, VA (mile 637) still in bed past 9:00, which is unheard of for a hiker, bumming around until I head the 2 hours south to Damascus for Trail Days. Hoping for a good time there. In the meantime, both my feet and knees are grateful for the reprieve from hiking.
Hiking in the woods for 600 miles, you have a lot of time to yourself. I spend a lot of time thinking of things I’d like to write. However, when I actually start to write, it’s like those thoughts vanish. (Really helpful for me). It’s surreal that this journey is a quarter-way finished. I like the idea of the outdoors, but I’m not outdoorsy. Prior to hiking, I had never expressed interest in camping or backpacking. When I’m done, I may never either. Who knows? While I realize I still have almost 1600 miles between Katahdin and me, this is the part where you really start thinking what you want out of this because as cliche as it is, the AT is more about the journey than the destination.
So what are my thoughts from the quarter-way point?
Hiking doesn’t exclude you from problems others experience in the real world. But it is easy to just focus on getting the miles in.
Returning from the trail I want to be more bold. I realize that from an outsider’s perspective I may already seem that way. I’m a young, single, non-outdoorsy woman who decided to hike 2200 miles alone. I don’t need no man/friend/etc to go hike. So yeah, maybe that’s bold in its own way. However, don’t ask me to play pool or go skiing or something else I don’t do well. I’m afraid of looking stupid. I want to be the person that says, “Sure, but I’m not very good,” and just do it.
Have I made any big adjustments to my pack? Not really. I mailed home my brain and small winter gear and switched my Thermarest Women’s ProLite Plus for a Nemo Astro Air. It’ll probably remain similar the rest of the trail.
However, I challenge you, dear reader, to do something out of your comfort zone, whatever that may be. Hike alone. Go to a museum. See a movie alone. Something. I’m trying to do it too.
Now for my week in photos:
If you’d like to mail me a care package (I’m borrowing this from my friend Sweets and will have addresses at the end of all my posts now. Thought it was a cool idea!) you can send me your love to Troutville or Waynesboro.
Molly Bybee; General Delivery; Troutville, VA 24175; Please hold for AT hiker; ETA 05/20
(Next week I will have hiked back to Roanoke. Talk about surreal!!!)
Molly Bybee; General Delivery; Waynesboro, VA 22980; Please hold for AT hiker; ETA 05/27
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