Happy first day of spring! I know I am happy to see it at least. I am finally through the fog of my seasonal affective disorder and full of energy and the focus and drive to hit some goals this year.
We spent our 6 year dating anniversary and St. Patrick’s weekend back at Cuivre River State Park in Troy, MO. I think by now we have officially hiked every trail in the park. Last week I told B, “I just want to spend ALL DAY hiking Saturday.”
I am trying to piece together what our experience will be like on the AT by toying with longer days and miles. It is now only 6 months away. I wanted to hike until I hit my wall (which is typically about 8 miles in) and then push past that wall until I felt like I was on autopilot. I think we succeeded.
Saturday we hiked the longest we have ever gone in one day without stopping to camp in between. We walked 11.33 miles and what a way to erase ANY bad mood or negativity that may be standing in your way. The weather was absolutely perfect. I didn’t complain. My feet only hurt briefly around mile 9 and then everything sort of started working mechanically. I wasn’t ever forcing myself or talking myself through it anymore. My legs powered through and carried me back to the trailhead where our loop finally finished.
No blisters, and only a couple of tender spots where calluses are beginning to build. I feel like my job, where I stand and work on my feet for 12 years has been beneficial to this life I love so much. My legs are strong and my feet only cave in to exhaustion sometimes. It’s my lungs that really like to give me grief. Baby steps and eye contact with the ground (not the destination) is what gets me to the top without feeling overwhelmed. Count your steps, focus on your breaths. B often turns and says to me, “I’ll meet you at the top!” And takes off in a near sprint. I will always hike slow, and that’s ok. It’s not a competition by any means. Maybe one day I’ll get to the top first. =)
On the topic of hiking with someone else; I have found throughout this year as I become a little more savvy, that dayhiking is just not a thing I enjoy as much with company. I love hiking and backpacking with B, don’t get me wrong. He is like another limb to me. But, I don’t necessarily care to carry on conversations nor do I strive to keep up with or slow down for someone else.
I’m (maybe selfishly?) there to be with me, the silence and to see the view I worked for. If I am hiking with M or B, (truthfully, the only people I have ever gone with) it’s because they know they can go ahead of me, or let me go ahead if I’m having a quicker day. There are no strings attached. More often than not, B is 50 yards ahead of me as I saunter on behind him, stopping to take scenery photos or inspect an insect/leaf/mushroom/feather. It’s preferable. We stay mostly within sight but never are we on each other’s heels.
I have been invited to hike with others, both by friends and meetups on my Facebook hiking groups. I tend to decline. I have even been asked to guide a beginners backpacking group (which I am considering for the experience.) I don’t know how or when it happened, but I am not much of a social person anymore these days. I hike my own hike as should every other person that enjoys it. I don’t like expectations.
Of course, our time on the AT will be a whole different ballpark. Our multiday backpacking here in Missouri is usually lone, with other overnighters few and far between. Sharing shelters with others and meeting people along and on the trail is going to be so interesting. That is all part of the AT experience.
What do you think about spending trail time with people? Do you prefer solo, semi-solo (meet ya there!) or having company the whole time? Am I a jerk? Probably. =)
We drove two vehicles down Friday; B took the van with Bane and I took the Forester with Cash.
The reason for this being the trailhead we planned to set off on Saturday morning was too far to walk to from our campsite, and to pack the camp and van up just to drive a few miles down the road is a pain. We’ve had to do it before and breaking everything down to set it back up a few hours later when you’re exhausted isn’t ideal. So two cars it was! We only had a 60 mile drive so it was worth it.
Sunday we woke up early, I stayed in the van with Cash and coffee until about 8:45 and then we made breakfast. We then packed everything up and hiked for about 3.5 miles before going home. Yet another weekend spent outside, being productive and feeding my brain. One day I hope this is my every day. I dream of a simpler life with little distractions. I have ideas big and small for our future. It does not involve staying put, that’s for sure.