Losing My Hiker Superpowers

Thru-hikers acquire super powers during a thru-hike.  The powers are fun quirks, bragging rights, but they help us on our way.  Hikers need those powers:  the ability to eat excessive amounts of food to fuel their bodies, a good attitude that morphs trail hardships into funny asides (boots frozen in New Mexico on the CDT in May for the third day in a row–it can only be funny), the ability to not smell the unwashed bodies of you and your hiking group, and the miles we put in day after day to complete the hike.

It’s been two years since my last thru-hike and I’m losing my super powers.  When my office job moved to a new location I spent the morning carrying file boxes down to the truck and didn’t order a double pattie burger when we went out to lunch (and I left french fries behind) that afternoon while unpacking all I could smell was me. A thru-hiker would have eaten my extra fries and thought I smelled of soap. In the evenings I go inside when the mosquitoes start bothering me instead of putting on my rain jacket and laughing while sweltering in gor tex.

Yes, I am going to finish that, but only just.  Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Stylos.

Yes, I am going to finish that, but only just. Photo courtesy of Jeffrey Stylos.

It saddens me to lose those powers–they were fun and they made thru-hiking possible. They were with me so long I forgot a person could look at an ice cream sundae and doubt their ability to eat the whole thing–and forget about going back for seconds. Letting go of my thru-hiker appetite was a choice unlike losing my immunity to certain smells. I haven’t yet figured out if I will lose my hiking stamina or if I can make the choice to keep that super power. As recently as Memorial Day Weekend I surprised myself by hiking twenty-three miles on the AT in Vermont.  It was more than planned yet was leisurely.  There was also no encore–the next day netted ten miles, and a few hours lounging by a river.  Being able to hike the miles is the power that the others are built upon–with it, the others will never be far behind.

What are your hiker superpowers?  

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