Saturday, September 26, 2020

A Year After

 A year ago today I left Imp Shelter and Campsite and hiked off the Appalachian Trail (AT) for the last time.  While I have physically been off the trail for a year part of me is still on the trail.

After my diabetes diagnosis last spring I began walking again hoping diet and exercise would help (they have so far).  On those walks my mind inevitably wanders back to the AT and I begin second guessing all the decisions I made on the trail.  What if?  What if? What if?  It makes it hard for me to enjoy my walks.  

Sunset approaching along the AT.
  Maybe if I put it down in a post I can find a way to move forward.

  • I should have started earlier.  Even a week earlier may have made a difference in the long run.  I would have reached Damascus, VA around the time for Trail Days.  I could have experienced this spectacle and it would have placed me, at least for a time, in the Damascus Bubble of hikers leaving the town en masse.  The extra people would have made the hike a more social and less lonely experience.
  • I should have continued my food discipline north of Harper's Ferry, WV.  Food discipline while I'm on long hikes is an issue I first experienced on the Camino de Santiago.  In the southern part of the AT I did pretty good eating most of my packed food.  North of Harper's Ferry I began getting lazy.  I didn't eat all my food and I often was too lazy to boil water for my dehydrated meals in the evening.  Several stages I added an extra day while I was on the trail which often forced me to eat four days worth of food over five days.  Poor food discipline may have contributed to my body not recovering near the end.
  • I was too fixated on staying in shelters.  I don't remember how many times I put up my tent but I think it was around fourteen times over my one hundred seventy-seven days on the AT.  I would often stop at a shelter early in the afternoon because the next shelter was too far to reach before dark.  What I should have done is stop at the shelter, eat some food, and take a nap before continuing down the trail, stopping a few hours later in a place where I could put up my tent.  I think this would have added two to five miles onto my day thus getting me that much farther down the trail.  This was especially true during the summer when the days were long and daylight was plentiful.
It's this last point that would have made the most difference I think.  Even If I averaged one mile extra per day I would have been over one hundred fifty miles ahead of where I was.  Having an extra couple of weeks might have made the difference.  The only downside is that the trail might have been even more lonely than it was.  *sigh* What if …?

For those who are wondering, I do not have the desire to go back and finish it.  When I made the decision last April it was final.  I just wish I could find a way to get Little Hill out of my head and move on.  Maybe this post will help Little Hill finally get some rest.

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