Three Weeks in the Trees

After about 3 weeks and 270 miles on trail, my trail friends and I are taking a much needed zero in Hot Springs, NC.

I’m keeping this one short and sweet, as I plan to spend my day off reading my giant book (my luxury item that I hope to ditch with my mom as soon as possible), eating something other than instant mashed potatoes, and sitting down.

So here are 9 things I’ve found/experienced/seen/learned along the trail thus far:

1. Instant mashed potatoes aren’t that bad.

I remember eating these bad boys on my first ever backpacking trip when I was 11, and I remember absolutely hating them. My diet consisted primarily of Butterfingers and gatorade at that point in my life, so I’m not sure I really had the palate to be so appalled, but nevertheless I haven’t touched them since. Turns out anything tastes good after walking 20 miles with a backpack.

2. Foot care is self care.

I’ve recently learned the importance of quality shoes and socks. This came with the lofty price of rolled ankles and some of the gnarliest blisters I’ve ever seen in my life. Turns out taking care of your feet is super important, especially if you use them all day long. PSA: Wet shoes, thick wool socks, and ankle support sleeves lead to nothing but pain. Plan accordingly.

3. Uniforms are kinda nice.

As a kid I dreamed of going to school that required a uniform (specifically the cute, plaid skirt kind, ie Rory Gilmore/Hermione Granger/Mia Thermopolis) but alas, was never granted the luxury of not worrying about what to wear everyday. Until now, where I get to roll out of bed (sleeping pad on the ground) and put on the same cold, soggy clothes I wore the day before. Dreams do come true.

4. People are the best.

It is crazy how fast you get to know someone when you walk for 10 hours a day with them. Survival becomes so much easier and way more fun when you have people to suffer along with you. I am so grateful and lucky that I met my trail friends so early in my trek (shoutout Tuna and Ivy).

5. People are so complex.

In addition to my immediate tramily, I’ve met so many cool, fascinating, odd characters along the trail. People’s motivations for hiking are so varied and inspiring. We met one man from Germany (hey No English!) who lived the first 30 years of his life in occupied East Berlin and has spent his life since travelling all over the world. He also drinks canola oil straight from the bottle for « good calories. » He’s a legend.

6. Anything is interesting if you’re tired enough.

I hate to report that we’ve reached the part of living outside that could be considered « a little weird »The conversations we have to simply get through the day range anything from « what’s the strangest place youve ever slept » to « how many species of Tuna can you name? » The other day Ivy asked how much cereal one would have to eat for an MRI machine to recognize it and magnetically remove it from your body, which might be the first original thought I’ve ever heard. Please weigh in if you have an answer, we’re still discussing it

7. Little things get you through the day.

On trail, you are in fact limited to things you have in your pack. Which means if someone mentions a milkshake once, I will think about a milkshake for three full days until we get to the next town and I can devour one in three minutes flat. It’s these things that get me through through grueling, muddy trekking everyday.

8. Tennessee doesn’t believe in privies.

Not much too add here except the only way we know if we’re in Tennessee vs North Carolina is if there is a privy we are in. North Carolina and if there isn’t we are in Tennessee. (Yes we could use a map but our way seems more whimsical).

9. Escaping reality and spending days at a time in the woods is a privilege.

The world is a really scary place right now, a fact that I don’t take lightly as I’m out of service in the forest for days at a time. It is easy to ignore the injustice and crisises happening around the world, but i’m trying to find a healthy balance of checking out from the 24 hour news cycle and still paying attention to all of the issues that persist whilst I can’t use my phone. I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in and I hope that my time in the woods allows me to use the perspective in a positive way.


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Comments 1

  • Kevin : May 12th

    Haha just wait, that’s standard fare for Ivy. Plenty more random questions in your future! 🙂


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