What If I Lose My Socks?!

Although long distance hiking will be a new endeavor for me, I have a lot of solo travel experience. However, every experience is ripe with mistakes, awkward exchanges, and almost always practicing my magical ability of getting lost. Sometimes in impossible to get lost in locations.  None of which bodes well for the trail.

On a 3-month solo jaunt to South East Asia, I missed my first plane out of Alaska. By 24 hours. Because I forgot to double check the date. And that whole midnight-is-really-the-next-day-thing. Crossing the border from Thailand to Laos, I had to pay a fine because I had accidentally overstayed my visa. Even though the day I needed to leave was stamped into my passport. I carried around this date without checking for a month.To put salt in the wound, the day before I took a picture next to a sign that said, “Oh, shit, my visa expired.” I made a funny face and pointed at the sign. I thought I was joking, but the joke was on me. When I crossed the border from Laos to Cambodia, I was about 10 dollars short in cash, had no access to an ATM because we were on a riverbank and had to start asking (re: begging) the lovely people in my immigration line to donate to the get-Leah-Across-the-border-fund. But ultimately, for a small fine, I got on a different plane that carried me to Aisa and I successfully crossed both borders.

Preparing my gear has been a slow but steady process. I’m a beginner so I make most purchases hesitantly and far from assured. One item I could knock off my ever growing list with some semblance of confidence was socks. So I marched back into REI and got myself a pair of purple SmartWool socks. They were so comfortable and little symbols that come March, I was going to accomplish something awesome. So, I started wearing them all the time. They were cozy for an Alaska winter and constant reminders that I am about to become a badass. Wearing them made me feel like I wasn’t a fraud, I had brand name socks, I was the real-deal future thru-hiker.

I wore my power socks on a weekend trip to visit my friend for her birthday. She complimented them, I proudly told her they were for the trail.” The next day, it was time to go back to the airport to return home and I couldn’t find my socks anywhere. Which is something I have grown fairly used to happening. If I own something, it will eventually disappear.  My mom used to say if my head wasn’t attached… We were running out of time to get to the airport and I was forced to abandon my beautiful, badass, purple power thru-hiker legitimate socks and head to the airport, bare feet stuffed in Ugg boots.

At the TSA checkpoint, I furrowed my eyebrows and told the kind officer, that I would take my shoes off, but I had lost my socks and consequently, had bare, smelly feet. She assured me it happens, although I seriously doubt often.

As I trekked through the security line, barefoot on a dirty tile floor, embarrassed by the smell of my own feet emanating throughout the line, my mind turned to the trail. If I can’t keep track of a pair of socks in a house, what is going to happen when I am living out of a backpack in the woods for 6 months?

Am I going to be the one who gets lost on a well-marked, almost impossible to get lost on trail?

Am I going to forget my food in a tree and hike on without it?

Pack the wrong section trail guide?

Miss the way to get into a town?

Forget my tent poles?

Accidentally turn around and start hiking South?

Loose my socks?!


But what I do know is this, of all the mistakes I have made while traveling, they have all, always worked out. Sometimes through calamity, or me sacrificing a small piece of my dignity, but they do work out. Strangers are kind, getting lost can be interesting, my sesne of humor is strong and someone, somewhere has my back.

Mistakes are how you learn and funny if you allow them to be.  I have learned to be easy on myself when I make them. They are inevitable and being self-critical does not reverse what has already happened. Although I highly doubt I will turn around and accidentally start hiking south (at least for a significant amount of time), I may very well lose my tent poles. But I have faith. Faith in myself, faith in the trail, faith in the community I will be surrounded by.  Just as I am positive that I will make silly mistakes, I am also positive that I will recover from them.  That is the attitude I am taking with me to the trail.

Even if I lose my socks. 

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Comments 3

  • J. Ford : Dec 20th

    Don’t worry. Things get lost or broken on trail. It happens. The only thing I lost hiking the TN border to the MD border section this summer was a pair of socks somewhere in Trimpi shelter (I think).

    I planned ahead though and my camp socks were duplicates of my hiking socks and got reappropriated into the hiking rotation at my next stop at a Wal-mart.

    Roll with the punches and you’ll be fine.

  • Kate G : Dec 23rd

    That sounds like an attitude that will serve you well! I’m hoping that being on the trail will help me practice this type of confidence that I can overcome whatever is thrown at me.

  • Deven : Mar 27th

    Hehe. I really like the bit about hiking South. That’s funny. Wow, bouncing back from mistakes and losing stuff… nice! you got it! I really stand in awe of all the travelling you have done alone. I am glad of the small bits I have done, I really enjoyed it, but you really take the cake! I’m impressed! I guess I did go to Australia… that was a big deal! Man, I do like traveling alone, too. Yay!!! So happy for you! (again…!)


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