Things I’ve Learned
Wandering the AT for the last 2 months and crossing the 1000 mile mark yesterday, I realized I’ve learned a few things and changed a little bit here and there. This is what the AT has taught me so far:
1. People are good. Hiking has restored my faith in humanity. strangers kindly offer rides in town, Waynesboro keeps a list of trail angels we can call for rides, my friends drive hours to visit, my boyfriend uncomplainingly acts as my support crew, my brother in law and sister listen to all my stories, and other hikers look out for each other on and off the trail. People in this milieu seem inherently good and I am happy to be among them.
2. I am more resilient than I thought. I can climb mountains when my feet are numb from too-small shoes, I can walk 20 miles in pouring rain, I can sleep in a wet tent and soaking clothes, and I can keep hiking even when I’m so tired I’m crying. It turns out, I can do amazing things and knowing that – truly knowing that – gives me a new sense of self-confidence that I think I did not have in this way before.
3. Patience. Everything happens in slow motion when you’re traveling at two miles per hour. Getting to a resupply, waiting to buy replacement shoes, finding a dry spot for lunch – all these things now require a great deal of patience. cooking dinner means filtering water and setting up a kitchen – eating requires patience too. Take a deep breath next time you’re stuck in traffic and be glad you’re not walking to that appointment 10 miles away!
4. Speed is not King. Some people (RJ) are in it for speed. They’ll tell you how they walk 3 miles per hour and can do 24 miles EVERY DAY. When I started, that seemed important. I was stressed and felt pressured by the undercurrent of “faster is better” exerted on me – on all hikers – by each other. Over time though, I’ve let those people – and with them, those feelings – go. Today, I’m eating an immense pancake breakfast in a cozy, dry hostel with my buddy Beast – ignoring the rain outside and calmly adjusting my plan to hike 20 miles into Harpers Ferry today into plans to meh, hike a little of the way to Harpers today and just finish up tomorrow – because really, eating another pancake, meeting the other cool hikers here, and drinking another cup of coffee seems like a much more pleasant day on the trail at this rainy moment.
More to follow. If you have any questions about my AT trip, please let me know and I’ll be happy to answer them!
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