Its been one month since I’ve finished hiking the Appalachian Trail, since I’ve stopped walking countless miles each day, since I’ve stopped grocery shopping in dollar store and since I’ve had to sleep in shelters. I now have running water, a car, healthy food and a bed to sleep in, sounds great doesn’t it? Well then why do I miss trail life so much!?
Admittedly, the last month on the trail wasn’t always so much fun. Hurricane Sandy hit the north-eastern United States with winds, and water and the south-eastern United States got hit with snow, snow, wind and more snow. I was hiking through thigh deep snow wearing nothing more on my legs than shredded rain pants and tiny running shorts. What was I thinking?
Each night in the chilly shelter I cooked my dinner while trying to shiver myself warmer with my lower body in my sleeping bag, went to sleep around 7:30 pm and woke up at approximately 3-4 am shivering my buns off waiting for the light to come. At 7ish I would eat breakfast in my sleeping bag, only this time I would still be lying down and fully zipped up. That is one advantage of eating pop tarts and hunny buns for breakfast, I don’t have to worry about spilling them in my sleeping bag.
Hiking in the cold wasn’t so bad. Once I got moving and my legs woke up it felt good. I always thought that hiking was just walking but on a trail, and that if you could walk then you could hike, and its true. If you can walk you can hike, but once you’ve been on the trail for so long you learn a different type of walking. Have you ever seen a ‘City Slicker’ try to walk on a rocky path? They stick their arms out for balance, stare at their feet and move really slowly so that they don’t trip. My balance improved x 100. I could step on any rock, root, stump, incline, decline, mud clod, leaf pile or log and not lose balance or speed. I could trust my feet to get me where I wanted to go. Ups and downs no longer slowed me down and tripping stopped being an issue because my legs, ankles and feet adjusted to whatever I put before them. It took me a while, but I became good at walking.
Needless to say, I think about trail life a lot. I’ve never been a city girl. I have always craved adventure. When I come back to the city I try to trick myself into thinking that city life can be adventurous too, but just in a different way. I’m not sure if its working.
Despite all the hard times on the trail, cold weather, sore muscles, and homesickness, I miss it. Maybe its not even the trail that I miss, but the lifestyle. Anyway, even if I live in a house now, sleep in a bed and have running water, I still have sore feet to remind me every morning that I did actually hike 2184 miles from Maine to Georgia.