Day 30 – Lessons learned in 30 days
As I sit here in bed listening to the possum that lives in the motel ceiling, it dawned upon me that today is a full month on trail. I thought I might do a special stand alone blog entry of all the things I have learned so far.
So what have I learned from a month on trail?
It doesn’t matter what you look like, find the ‘fit’ that works for you – People’s gear, systems, clothes, and footwear are all going to be different. Find what makes this hike (your hike) more bearable, even enjoyable, for you. If someone is giving you hell over your gear, tell them to buzz off.
It doesn’t matter what you eat out here, as long as it has calories and you want to eat it – Find something that gives you some nutrition. If gas station cakes and peanut butter is fueling your long days and still giving you the energy to keep walking. Then have at it. Hell, maybe you will still like eating it in 3 months.
Sometimes “the vibes do be off” – Trust your gut, if something doesn’t seem right, assess the situation and then make the call. If it is the start of an injury, check it out. If it is people or a situation, make the call that is im your best interest.
Privacy and being alone is a luxury that should be treasured – Sometimes it is worth the extra cash to relish in it.
Stretch! Massage your feet and legs! Take care of yourself! – An ounce of prevention is a pound of cure. Even though it seems so hard in the moment. Just that 2 minutes of stretching makes a difference.
Take the time in town – Yes, you are here to hike the trail, crush miles, and see things. But these little towns and stops rely on us to exist. Go say hi, they like it when we say hi. They like it when we spend our few precious dollars on a soda or a post card. Some of the best memories you are gonna make are in town.
Your feet need to be loved and babied – Take the time to care for your feet. Check and clean your nails. Trim your toes. Maybe clean them off with a baby wipe. Check out that blister that was bothering you. Your feet are doing a very good job of taking a pounding, give them some love.
Don’t worry about pace, the miles will come – Don’t feel bad that you aren’t doing “long miles” yet. They will come. It doesn’t matter that you are slow or take a ton of breaks. Hike your fucking hike. If that means you are having a blast looking at every god damn wild flower and walking 3 miles that day, then do it. No one cares about the mileage you are putting out, and if they do, they suck.
Be a good Samaritan – Help out your fellow hikers, both day hikers and thru. If you see someone in need, help them to the best of your ability. If you see someone struggling, give them a hand. Treat people how you want to be treated. It really pays off in the end.
Stamp out ignorance with education, not by being a dick – A lot of mistakes out here are made because of ignorance, not laziness (in most cases). Don’t be a dixk in that moment, take the time and make it a teaching moment. You see a person with a crappy bear hang, teach them a better safer way. Someone needing help with a basic LNT principle, show them or teach them. It’s not hard.
Being polite and considerate can get you a long way – Guys, do I have to explain this one? Be considerate in shelters, think of it as sharing a room with 5-12 other people. Just because it is outside, doesn’t mean consideration goes out the window. Say please and thank you! Throw in a “Yes Ma’am/Sir.” Every so often. It can help you out in the long run, from getting a discounted coffee to a last minute shuttle (Yes, both of these happened because I was considerate and polite.).
The drama is generally fake and people act like it is high school out here – You are going to hear rumors about drama and everything. People out here have nothing else, just take it with a grain of salt and move on. If you see drama beginning, remember, you have the option to out walk it. Remember, rumors and gossip are a tactic used to control a person’s actions: good, bad, or indifferent. It’s a form of control. So act accordingly.
Carry soap! – Norovirus, The Common Cold, Parasitic Worms, Giardia, Any Fecal Oral Disease. Wash your hands! They are gross! Some of these
You are never going to be perfect at LNT. Accidents happen. – Do your best. Mother Nature and Smokey the Bear like it when you follow LNT, but understand accidents happen.
Weird things happen out in Appalachia – Maybe its nature. Maybe it’s cryptids. Maybe it is all those scary stories I read as a child… Or the tylenol pm…. But, these hills are older than bones. I repeat, OLDER THAN BONES. Weird shit happens out here, some I can’t explain with nature. I have heard things whisper my name outside my tent while solo camping. Other hikers can a test to other ‘unusual’ things. Just respect them, and maybe don’t whistle in the woods at night… You know, just to be safe.
Learn from your mistakes and from your fears – If you don’t you are hindering yourself, your safety, and your hike. Alway treat your mistakes and your fears as a learning experience.
Gummy Candy Saves Lives – This does not need an explanation and is a universal truth.
If you are having a tough time it can generally be solved with taking a break, having some water, peeing, and having a snack – It sounds intuitive, but try it out next time it gets tough.
Take some you time – if this means hiding in your tent to let your social battery recharge or doing whatever makes you a human being again. Do it! Do not feel pressured to be social if you don’t want to be!
Have fun – Like Seriously! Have some fucking fun! This is your hike, you decided to put your life on hold for the meantime, do whats fun! Thru hiking is tough, so you better find some time to make it bearable!
Do not let your FOMO kill you – I get it! You are here and you want to do it all! You want to vibe at the hostel, crush miles, and visit all the cool little places in the guide books. You have decided that you want “the ultimate experience”. Don’t let your Fear of Missing Out burn you out. You are doing a lot out here, so don’t feel bad you didn’t see that one sign or go to that tourist trap. It’s going to be okay, your trip and experience is still valid.
Wear sun screen and bug spray! – Need I say more?
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Nice post. I think you got it. Enjoy yourself and have as much fun as you can. Way to go.
Yay!!! So awesome to know you’re finding your way on the AT. I really enjoy your posts. As a solo female thru hiker your insights are so helpful for me because I’m doing AT next April. Keep up your awesomeness!!
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