One Last Shakedown Hike

I’m just a few days away from my Long Trail start date, and with most of a day off, I decided to go on one last shakedown hike. My plan was to do about 10 miles over the Mount Holyoke Range, getting used to doing smaller ups and down throughout the day, and taking longer breaks.

Spoiler alert: it didn’t go to plan.

If I’m being honest, my hikes rarely go to plan, but this one was in the ranks of downright miserable. The day before was a washout, so the bugs were out in full force. Between the third or fourth repack of my bag, I left the bug spray at home.

As I made it down the backside of the first peak, the mosquitoes descended, and my options were rest and get bitten or keep moving and get bitten less. I went with the second option.

Mt. Holyoke Range

The one picture I managed to snap at lunch.

After 4 miles that felt like at least 15, I bailed out off the ridge and started looping back. I got home and bought the strongest bug spray I could find, thankful that at least I ran into this problem before heading out on my thru hike.

Under the circumstances, I was happy to find that my pack was a manageable weight, my clothes were comfortable, and my body felt prepared enough to scramble up rocks at max speed.

The days leading up to my hike have been stressful, balancing last minute planning with work and worries about the trail, but I think that having a miserable hike reminded me that even if one day isn’t perfect, you can still find positive takeaways.

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