It’s only been a day since my last post.
Since I’ve been out here, which admittedly has not a long time, I’ve seen 4 people call it. 3 of them had been hiking for over a month, one of them started in Georgia 3 months ago. For all of them, the combination of every little discomfort and pain and exhaustion added up to make getting to the end not worthwhile anymore.
I had a rough day yesterday. I went to a café in the morning for breakfast and there were about 10 other thruhikers there. Even though I had already met and talked to all of them at that point, I didn’t fit in. On the AT, people will form a ‘trail family’ (or tramily, if you’re one of the cool kids), which is just a group of hikers who like each other. They hike together, plan to meet up every night, and keep tabs on each other. I met a tramily two days ago, and they were all lovely people. An older couple, Engine and Caboose, were especially nice, and taught me how to replace the tips on my trekking poles once they wear down. They were all eating at the café when I arrived, along with a couple other groups. Individually they were all so friendly, but I was the only one there without a family. It’s completely unrealistic to find a group this soon, since I don’t have my trail legs yet and can’t keep up with anybody, but that doesn’t mean I wish it could be.
When I started hiking, I almost immediately started going up what would turn out to be over a mile of non-stop steep incline. My feet hurt. My legs were sore. I started feeling a depression that I couldn’t shake. Thomas and I stopped in the middle and sat there for about half an hour and he could tell I was struggling.
So far, I’ve been holding myself to a relatively high standard of maintaining a positive attitude. If I trip, at least I’m tripping forward. The burn and exhaustion of going up a mountain is just what it feels like to get stronger. If my feet hurt, at least my back doesn’t hurt. If my back hurts, at least my legs don’t. I’ve been verbalizing this mentality to Thomas, and I think saying it aloud is the most helpful part. Yesterday, however, I just couldn’t bring myself to do it.
Eventually, we got up, even though I wasn’t feeling much better. We started walking and the miles started to melt away. We met two sisters and both of them were very nice, and after we talked to them, I felt a little peppier in my step. I had decided it would be a short day already, so it wasn’t too physically grueling. I started rambling to Thomas, and I think I talked for about 2 hours straight, and by the end we were in town and I felt better.
I met a nice woman in town who gave me some advice. You don’t have to be a hero if you don’t like it. I’m not going to quit, but I still thought it was a good overall thought.
Last night before I went to bed, I was reading the news and saw that another black life had been lost to the incompetence and corruption of the justice system. I cried hard. I’m going to try to find a way to keep fighting and supporting the people of color in my life from out here, because I have a responsibility, and this isn’t one I can just walk away from.
I know this hasn’t been a very uplifting post, I’m not feeling very uplifted at the moment, but I think that’s ok.