I don’t know if a thru-hike ever turns out to be what the hiker imagines it will be. Sometimes (most times?) it’s a more amazing adventure than the mind can envision. Other times, thru-hiking is a harsh reality check. The romantic visions of idyllic views and soothing walks along the “footpath” that is the Appalachian Trail turn out to be mere fantasies. Hiking is hard.
Every hiker has a unique experience on the trail and mine has been anything but what I expected. First, I planned to hike straight from Georgia to Maine. No yellow blazing, no skipping, and definitely not flip-flopping. So much for plans, because now I’m on a hopscotch hike. (More on that in a minute.)
My expectation of the trail itself hasn’t been far off the mark. I did a lot of training hikes and knew the terrain would be challenging, the mud would be deep, and the mosquitoes would be big enough to devour a small animal.
What I didn’t expect was that I would be such a slow-as-molasses hiker. Or that I would need so many zeros to deal with fatigue, sickness (both an upper respiratory infection and bronchitis), and pain (Achilles tendonitis and a sprained foot). I didn’t anticipate that one planned trip home would be supplemented by an unexpected trip to visit with my mother before she underwent heart surgery (thankfully, she’s recovering well).
All in all, my zeros add up to nearly one and a half months of time off. Add that to a daily pace that hovers around 12-14 miles and suddenly I was in what another hiker called “the caboose” of the NOBOs. That’s not where I expected to be.
Find out how I adapted with a Hopscotch Hike on The Trek.