Thursday, April 13, 2017

Nervousness, Anticipation, Fear, Excitement

For the past couple of years, Richard Judy has been heading up to Springer Mountain in GA, where one of the terminus of the Appalachian Trail are located and asking the perennial question from his novel THRU: An Appalachian Trail Love Story, "What have you gotten yourself into?"

Well, LoGear and I have been working through that question every day for the last several weeks.  Are we ready?  Are we really going to head out to the trail and spend FIVE or SIX months out there?  Are we fucking crazy?  The only answer we can say for now, is yes to all of them.

Each day, we go through a mental checklist.  We fiddle with our gear.  We empty and repack our food bag or clothes bag or little bag of tricks.  I suffer a small panic attack every time I think that in X number of days (today it is 13), we will start walking down in Georgia.  Heading in a northerly direction, towards Maine and Katahdin where Pamola lives.

The things I'm worried about won't fit in this post, but some of them are: Can I get in shape before I injure myself?  Can I avoid injury in general?  Will I be able to walk through the pain that I KNOW will be flowing through my body, Every. Freaking. Day?  How bad will my blisters be?  Will I lose those several extra Kilos that I'm carrying on my body?  Can we do this?  Do we really WANT to do this?  My mind.  A terrible place to be sometimes. 

There are plenty of things I'm not afraid of.  Bears, snakes, ticks (to a point) and bad water.  We have enough experience to deal with all of that.  All we need is a bit of common sense and situational awareness.  I have been studying our Guidebooks for several years now and I have a really good idea on how to do logistics for the first couple hundred miles and after that, I'm familiar enough to have a general idea of how to do it.  I am intent on staying as flexible as I can be.  We have learned to be that way over the years, doing our adventure races and hiking the trails.  I need to constantly be aware of the things that are out there, but I don't fear them.  

My reasons for hitting the trail are purely selfish.  I'm not hiking for a cause, or to raise money for some non-profit.  I'm not hiking to bring awareness to some disease or disorder.  I don't need to walk off the war or preach any faith.  I'm doing it for me.  I'm doing it to practice patience and have an adventure.  I'm doing it to become an Outsider for a time.

I rarely refer to this Hike as a Thru Hike.  Yes, I do hope that it has that achievement as a footnote to the experience, but I usually refer to it as an Adventure or as The Quest for Pamola.  If you have been reading my stuff for any time, you may have noticed that I have developed a disdain for the term Thru Hiker.  Too many people have too many differing opinions and rules and guidelines about that term that for me, it has lost a lot of its power.  I'm happy to be a Long Distance Hiker, who is having an Adventure and is on a Quest.  

We are also funding this trip ourselves.  No GoFundMe or promise to film a "Documentary".  We will be extremely grateful for any care packages that are sent to us though, but we are using our own money to do this hike.  It sure doesn't hurt that I have my 30 year military pension to help, but we need to keep the home front going and do our hike with that money.  Both of us are leaving jobs to do the hike.  

We are also feeling a smidge of guilt.  They say that there is never a perfect time to hike the trail, but you have to take the time to do it.  Ginger (Mama Bear) is going to be really pissed when we fill up our packs and head out without her.  Hopefully she will forgive us when we show up in a couple of months and all will be well again.  Leaving our youngest daughter (Brandi aka Home Base) to take care of the house and pets is also something I have fretted about, but I know she will be up to the task and it will be some great character building with some adulting and responsibility thrown in.  It seems that leaving all the bills and chores behind and heading out on the trail to walk over 2000 miles is irresponsible, but I know that it will be an epic part of my life, no matter how long we stay out there.  (reference back to my selfish comment above)

Soon the days until we hike will be in the single digits.  Each day I'm sure I'll feel more nervous and excited as I tremble in fear and anticipation.  The day is coming soon.  I'm pretty sure that on day one or two, I will be sweaty or wet; feeling the pain in my feet and legs as it reminds me of all the extra weight (both in body and pack) that I am carrying and I will ask myself, "What Have I Gotten Myself Into?"  The answer (hopefully) will be, Having the Best Damn Adventure of My Lifetime! 

Wish us luck.

EarthTone and LoGear

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