My Top 4 Takeaways from My First 200 Miles on Trail
I’ve had a million different thoughts and ideas pop into my head in the past few days, most of which I plan to spend a couple hundred more miles reflecting on. For now, I’ll share a few small takeaways from my first couple of weeks on the trail — two philosophical; two practical.
1. Keeping up with the Joneses doesn’t go away just because you walk into the woods. It’s really hard not to compare yourself with other hikers and to feel the intrinsic desire to hike faster miles because someone else is. I’ve had to remind myself to hike my own hike, listen to my body and my limits, and push myself for the right reasons. After the initial 5,000 foot climb out of Seiad Valley we hit the second exposed climb of the day and I was struggling in the afternoon heat. I felt the desire to keep forging on, not wanting all the other hikers to pass me by. But, what I really needed was to park my butt in a shady spot and let the sweat dry off my feet. As soon as I did, the ensuing miles felt way easier. And I even ran into a few of those hikers later in the day.
2. It’s important to me to take a few moments each day to just take in the spectacular beauty surrounding me and reflect on the awesomeness of getting to be out here. If I don’t, I’m just doing this for the sense of accomplishment, which is a totally valid reason to hike the trail…but it’s not my only why. I need those moments where I pause to grab a sip of water and take in the view or eat my lunch at a vista. I want to notice all the weird bugs and colorful flowers. I’m seeking accomplishment, yes, but also a sense of presence.
3. Proper nutrition planning can make a difference! This was one of the challenges I knew I would face on trail. I don’t want to jinx it yet, but I’ve been eating upwards of 4,000 calories each day and it’s paying off. I don’t feel as fatigued and I am maintaining my weight thus far. We are starting to increase the number of miles we hike each day, so hopefully all the prep continues to pay dividends!
4. Two zero days is too many unless I’m nursing an injury or feeling major fatigue. We were ahead of schedule getting into Ashland because our mileage increased more rapidly than we originally planned. I had a prescheduled work call so we ended up taking two full days off trail. One is enough to feel restorative; two is enough to loose momentum.
I look forward to all the future lessons the trail will teach me! What did you take away from your first few weeks on trail?
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