The Blues

7 Sep

Many people have talked of the “Virginia Blues”, when many northbounders get discouraged about how much they have left to hike and the length of the state. While we doubt we will have that issue in our home state, we have definitely been experiencing our own version- the Southern New England blues. We are 1/3 done with the trail, have been out over 2 months, and still have so much left to go. Each day is the same- wake up, hike as far as we can, crash with exhaustion and then repeat. We are physically exhausted most days and the stamina we hoped for hasn’t really arrived. We often use the analogy of a gas tank
and we are usually running on about a quarter tank or less. Even when we take a zero miles day, we only get up to maybe 60-70% full and that goes quickly once we are back on the trail.

In addition, the northbounders are gone now, so most days we only see each other or the occasional day hiker. The motivation we used to glean from those encounters with other hikers shooting for the same goal is gone, and we have to pull it from within ourselves instead.

I know this sounds like a big complaint list, but I wanted to bring it up more because it is the hard truth and no one talks about it. The days are long, exhausting and often incredibly boring. The end goal is still very far away, so most days we look forward to a stop at a deli or a visit from a friend or family down the road. We each listen to music or podcast part of the day and hike together for a few hours, but that still leaves 5+ hours of time with our thoughts and nothing else. It can really drive a person crazy (which is not helped by the fact we were both crazy to start with!). A great example of this came from one of the guys we saw last week. He had been hiking by himself for weeks and compared his mindset to Tom Hanks and Wilson in the movie Castaway. His inner monologues had turned to dialogues, but he wasn’t quite sure who the second person was…his water bottle? Thermarest? I guess it just proves you have to be at least a little nuts to hike the AT!

3 Responses to “The Blues”

  1. Lance Pearson September 7, 2012 at 1:03 pm #

    Are you ladies getting enough meat based protein? I know you had a trail dietician do your menus but you are putting huge calories out, eating relaitvely constant amounts and becoming whipcord and rawhide. No substitute for meat protein..or cheese.
    Lance Pearson…have fun with your folks this weekend.

    • emily September 7, 2012 at 9:49 pm #

      Thanks Lance! The easy answer is no. I eat jerky sometimes but I am picky about it. Jen eats chicken and fish but those things, like most meats, don’t pack well! So we compensate with high protein bars and eat lots of meat on our town days. We also eat nut butters and have protein in our oatmeal.
      It is so good to see mom and dad. Mom’s knee looks great and dad is as fit as a fiddle. I am excited to see pictures from their Maine adventure!

  2. Camille September 7, 2012 at 1:35 pm #

    On a long, tiresome bike ride, I call this the “Dark place”. Unfortunately, your dark place is over the course of DAYS (versus my pithy hours). Either way, knowing that you’re in the dark place gives you Power. You know where you are and, while it may suck to be there, you have control over it and just need to cruise through to the other side. The worst thing that you can do in these dark places is fight their existence. There it is, there you are, and know that when you come out the other side, you will have survived something so unique that most people won’t even dare try to enter.
    Girls, you are both awesome and you can do this! Remember, the alternative is dealing with hospital administration and fecal matter (if there is a difference?)

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