Hey guys! So this is going to be a shorter post to just catch up on where I am now, and my feelings on the up coming hike!
Over the last several months I have been able to control my excitement about the AT, actually I ‘HAD TO’ control my excitement in order to survive in my day to day life that I still had to trudge through. I realized that if I spent everyday thinking about every detail of the AT it wouldn’t leave much time for my ‘normal’ life and my work. However, with my last day at work being 27 days away that control is rapidly starting to melt away! Now, beside the excitement, exists a strong thread of stress, and an even stronger thread of fear!
It all started the day that I registered my AT thru-hike with the Appalachian Trail Conservancy. I decided to start my hike March 19th, 2019. The same day I ordered my guide box, the AWOL NOBO Guide. This was a springboard that led to me telling my boss that my last shift at work was going to be February 1st, 2019. Now, l as I said before, my boss and come to find out, the owner of my company, has been more supportive then I could have ever asked for. So there I was sitting in my boss’s office, and telling him when my last shift would be, surprisingly, his response was only questions about the trails and a true desire to learn more about this journey. I then found out that the company would also allow me to schedule and use my allotted vacation time! As time gets closer I have noticed that a common theme among people I tell about this trip, and this is the fact that most people desire the freedom found in a thru-hike. However, they feel that they couldn’t do it due to their current lives, but don’t we make our own ways in life? At what point to we stop deciding our own journeys and our own paths in life?
As of January 8th, 2019 I have 71 days until the start of my thru-hike, and in these last weeks I have found myself thinking about every detail. Do I have enough money saved? Are my bills handled? What about supply drops? What about loosely planning the first few hundred miles? Is my gear going to be good enough? More importantly is my clothing going to be warm enough? What about camera gear for my phone? How in the world do I upload and make YouTube videos? Then comes the stress………. I was stressing about all these details, and then a night or two ago I spent hours on end awake, and didn’t sleep because of 6 ounces of gear in my pack. I then went to Bestbuy and bought a small 2.6 ounce ‘guerrillapod’ tri-pod and some small lenses for my phone, and proceeded to spend all night stressing about those 4 ounces too! Is this normal for the weeks before a thru-hike? Is all this stress ruining the excitement of planning this thru-hike? Well after some care consideration, I think the answer is yes! Now it’s time to let the trail provide and let the doors open leading me to the right path. It’s time to let myself enjoy the beginnings of this adventure!
So lets talk about stress for a minute. What is stress? Is wondering about 6 ounces of gear stressful? A better question is should it be? After thinking about it I don’t believe it is. As a paramedic my job puts me in situations that are the definition of ‘stressful’. The interesting part is, if you ask most paramedics if they find their job stressful; they will tell you ‘no’ or something along the lines of, ‘it’s part of the job’. The true answer is, Yes, it is stressful, but we know that if we give 100% then we give the patient a better chance at survival. However, this doesn’t guarantee the patient’s survival. As much as we may not want to admit it most of it is out of our control. So why is it that these 6 ounces of gear keep me up at night, but the fact that I have to work tomorrow and be 100% responsible for the lives and safety of those that are in the back of my truck, does not force me to stay up all night wondering “what if?” This I don’t have the answer to.
I was able to morph my feelings of stress into excitement once again. I decided to make and publish a gear list and see what others thought of my gear selections. During this time I realized that I was missing a very important part of gear. My trail-runners, how hard could this be? Well for someone with a 4E (extra wide foot) this was the hardest piece of gear to find! I went to top end running stores and local ones too, and the answer continued to be “sorry we can’t help you”. Am I the only person who hikes with fat feet? So now what? well instead of stressing about this speed bump, I reached out to a friend of my mother’s and step dad’s who is a very experienced trail runner, and he recommended that I try again and aim to find Altra trail runners. So the next day I drove to REI again and found a very nice young lady name Yavon. ( I am positive I slaughtered the spelling of her name) She helped me try on just about every pair of trail runners available, and after nearly 6 hours, I was walking out with a pair of Altra Lone Peak 4 that fit AMAZING!
Now, the new worry is, am I in shape enough for this? I’ve been doing my fair share of practice and shake down hikes, but over the last few months I have focused on working as much overtime as possible in order to save more money. So in turn I haven’t been hiking as much as I like. Instead of stressing about this though, I will just do my best and hope for the best outcome!!
So now with everything in order the only thing left for me to do is try and take more shake down hikes, wait, and try not to let the fear of wondering “what if” consume me.
Best wishes you guys! And thank you for the amazing support! I am also working on those blog posts about my Job as a paramedic and my first few YouTube videos!! So keep an eye out for them!!