Tuesday, October 25, 2016

How Lazarus Got His Groove Back

I can't believe that it's been over a week since getting back on trail, and even harder to believe that I summited Katahdin over a month ago. Being back has been hard, both mentally and physically. Before coming back out I thought I would really enjoy the alone time, but I'm finding myself really longing for more human interaction. I've met a nice little bubble of south bound hikers and we all seem to get along well, but it's hard coming into an already existing group with jokes and stories I don't yet understand. However, every single report card I received in elementary school said "Daniel socializes too much" so I'm sure I'll get through this! It just makes me miss my trail family even more. I miss my Shady Creepers SO MUCH. It's weird being on trail without them, and it has definitely changed my mentality. I don't have them in camp at the end of the night to share stories and jokes with. Luckily it seems my new group of friends is a total hoot, and I'm really liking sharing the shelters with them.

Trail life essentially has the same routines as before. The one big difference is that being further west and south the sun rises much later and sets later as well. I can definitely notice how much shorter the days have become since last being on trail in Maine. It makes it a bit harder to cram in a bunch of miles when you don't have a lot of daylight. Aside from that, I slipped back into the trail pretty easily. Aside from some new pains, that is. I didn't think after only three weeks of being at home would my legs reject the idea of hiking. In the first two days I had new pains I'd never had before in my ankles and then IT band pain again in my left knee. Luckily my dear friend Scottie gave me exercises for the ankles and I'm very familiar with how to treat IT band pain. After a week on the trail, and about 150 miles done, I'm feeling alright. Thankfully, the terrain in Virginia is nothing compared to New England - it's so much more gradual and level.

I will say, though, that this first week has had some hardships. Being back on the trail, without any of my old friends, by myself, and with new and unexpected pains, was really difficult. I kept telling myself "you came back, you tried, it's okay to quit." But then I would run into someone on trail and chat with them, get an encouraging message from home, or see a beautiful vista... all reminding me to keep going. The one time when I actually almost quit was one of the hardest days on trail. I had planned to do 19 miles this day to get myself into a town that evening. It started raining as soon as I left the shelter that morning. The temperature didn't get above 40 degrees and the winds were gusting. I have never been so cold and wet. My knee pain was killing me that day and I just couldn't walk fast enough to stay warm. At lunch I, for the first time, made warm tea and cooked one of my dinners for lunch - just to get warm. I rushed down the last few miles of switchbacks into town where I had a reservation at one of the hostels. A warm shower has never felt so good. I was really so close to quitting that day. I feel that if I didn't quit that day, I'm not going to quit unless I break my leg or something. That day tested me more than any other day, except for the days in the Smokies when I could barely walk.

All in all, things are going pretty well and I'm getting back into the hiking groove. My pains are subsiding, my mileage high, and my mood is doing well. I really like the bubble of hikers I'm hiking with, and have been laughing a lot. At the rate I'm going, I hope to finish before my planned end date, but everything can change.

1 comment:

  1. You're making the Shady Creepers proud, Laz!! Miss you, but you're crushing it!!