Why My Second Week on Trail SUCKED
I didn’t write much week one, so I’ll give a brief summary. If you ask in the comments, I’ll expand on anything in a later post.
Week one-ish in order:
1. I sprained my right ankle.
2. I got poison ivy between my toes, which I DO NOT recommend.
3. I helped form a tramily (tram) of four (Parmesan, Tosser, and Lé Honey Bear),
4. I got a trail name: L.L.C.
5. The guy I started the trail with left indefinitely.
6. We crossed the GA/NC border eight days after we started (way too fast).
7. I blew out my right Achilles after crushing a muddy 20 miles in 5.5 hours with Honey Bear (even more way too fast).
This Brings Us to (About) Week Two
Week two was awful. Full disclosure. I seriously considered leaving the trail. I stopped looking forward to each day. All I wanted was to go home, curl up in a coffee shop all day and read before sleeping in a warm, dry bed at night.
For a few days, I hated the trail.
Looking back, I see a lot of reasons why I felt this.
I’ve gone through a handful of what I’ll call “fogs” in my life. They started in middle school, last anywhere from a few days to a few months, and essentially quench any excitement of whatever is coming next in my life. Some people in my life have called this depression, but I’ve learned over time that I can get myself out of it by taking better care of my body, mind, and spirit.
Check, One Two Three
When the fogs hit, I go through the following checklist:
1. Am I exercising enough?
2. Am I sleeping enough?
3. Am I eating well?
4. Am I challenging my brain?
5. Am I spending time with people I enjoy?
Week 1, I forgot all that I had learned.
I Like to Move it Move it
The first question was an obvious yes. I’m walking most of the day, every day. But I think I underestimated the cumulative fatigue of walking 10+ miles a day with a ~40 pound backpack on. In the past, I’ve been able to run those miles, but not with a backpack, and not up and down mountains for 5+ hours at a time. By day eight, my body was exhausted and screaming for recovery. Case in point: right Achilles.
Questions 2-4 were a complete and utter NO.
My sleep was horrendous. We were in bed around 8 each night and we stayed there until 7, but I spent very little time sleeping. I was either sore from a hard hike or my mind wouldn’t turn off. Sleeping in shelters with four to six other people didn’t help.
My food intake wasn’t bad, but I was eating too mechanically. I was eating what I thought I needed, not necessarily what I wanted. Especially with that much exercise, my body was craving more sugar and I was trying to control it with chickpeas and oatmeal. Not quite “soul food.”
As for my brain, let me preface with this: I think my tram is brilliant. Honey Bear has published research in France and has been offered to study for a PhD, Parmesan knows an absurd amount of historical and political facts, and Tosser has an incredible knack for taking a debate and flipping it on its head with a new perspective.
But chatting for 30-60 minutes before bed, even if it is debating the objectivity of research, translating exercise physiology, or comparing French and American politics (all actual topics we’ve discussed), was not enough to satisfy me.
The Good Folks
Luckily, I did enjoy the people I was with and even though we don’t hike together, I don’t mind spending six-ish hours a day alone when I know we’ll camp together at night.
All of that was compounded by a week of dreary and wet weather with regular nights right at or below freezing.
Despite my urge to get off the trail, I challenged myself to spend three days clearing up my checklist.
I backed off the pace and mileage of my hikes. I started sleeping in my tent (and sleeping in later). I now eat a chocolate bar every day. And I started listening to at least one “educational” podcast every morning.
Now, almost 150 miles into the trail, I’m happy again.
I’m sure there will be more challenges to come, but the first big one I’m happy to report that I handled.
Once again, I’m looking forward to what comes next.
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