Three weeks in the trees

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

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

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

1. Instant mashed potatoes aren’t that bad.

I remember eating these bad boys on my very first backpacking trip when I was 11, and I remember absolutely hating them. My diet at that point in my life consisted mainly of Butterfingers and Gatorade, so I’m not sure if I was really that shocked, but I still haven’t touched them since. Turns out everything tastes good after walking 20 miles with a backpack.

2. Foot care is self-care.

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

3. Uniforms are quite nice.

As a child, I dreamed of going to school that required a uniform (especially the cute plaid skirt one, e.g. Rory Gilmore/Hermione Granger/Mia Thermopolis), but unfortunately I was never given the luxury of not having to worry about what I had to wear every day. Until now, where I get to roll out of bed (sleeping pad on the floor) and put on the same cold, soggy clothes I wore the day before. Dreams become reality.

4. People are the best.

It’s crazy how quickly you get to know someone when you walk with them 10 hours a day. Survival becomes so much easier and much more fun when you have people who suffer with you. I’m so grateful and lucky to have met my trail friends so early in my hike (shoutout Tuna and Ivy).

5. People are so complex.

Besides my direct tram line, I’ve met so many cool, fascinating, strange characters along the way. People’s motivations for walking are so varied and inspiring. We met a man from Germany (hey not English!) who lived the first 30 years of his life in occupied East Berlin and spent his entire life since traveling all over the world. He also drinks canola oil straight from the bottle for “good calories.” »He is a legend.

6. Everything is interesting if you are tired enough.

I hate to report that we’ve reached the part of the outdoors that could be considered “a little weird.” The conversations we have to get through the day range from ‘what’s the strangest place you’ve ever slept’ to ‘how many types of species’. can you name tuna? » Recently Ivy asked how much cereal you would have to eat before an MRI machine could recognize it and magnetically remove it from your body, which may be the first original thought I’ve ever heard. Please comment if you have an answer, we are still discussing it

7. Little things help you get through the day.

On the road you are essentially limited to the items you have in your backpack. That means if someone mentions a milkshake once, I’ll think about a milkshake for three full days until we get to the next town and I can devour one in three minutes. It’s these things that get me through grueling, muddy trekking every day.

8. Tennessee doesn’t believe in secrets.

Not much to add here other than the only way we’ll know if we’re in Tennessee versus North Carolina is if there’s a secret we’re in. North Carolina and if not, we’re in Tennessee. (Yes, we could use a map, but our way seems more erratic).

9. Escaping from reality and spending days on end in the woods is a privilege.

The world really is a scary place right now, a fact I don’t take lightly as I’m off duty in the woods for days at a time. It’s easy to ignore the injustices and crises happening around the world, but I try to find a healthy balance between checking out of the 24-hour news cycle and still paying attention to all the issues that persist when I can’t use them fix my phone. I’m really lucky to be in the position I’m in and I hope my time in the woods allows me to use perspective in a positive way.

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