Cashing Happy Checks
tl;dr At mile 105, knee is kinda jacked up but getting better and I’m cashing happy checks left and right. Donate to HoTPCA!
Gratitude: Thanks to everyone who has donated so far! Donate here if you can!
Distance: As of today (4/11/17) I have completed 105 miles (yea, that’s 97% left to do. When my phone is at 97% I don’t even consider charging it up (+8 miles if you include the approach trail)), crossed Georgia off the list of states a few days ago, and I am well into North Carolina.
Weather: So far there have been 2 days of rain, 1 day of snow & hail, 1 rather blustery cold day, and the rest have been quite cool/cold and sunny.
Body: My feet scared me at the beginning, I had a few hotspots and only one turned into a blister thanks to the Leukotape in ny ‘dinky stuff kit’. My knees on the other hand, have been far from as desirable as the ones bees have. After a long day of hiking my left knee was a 6 or 7 out of 10 on the pain scale going down hills every time I stepped down. It has gotten much better, but the right one is now giving me a little grief. I bought a knee brace the other day for the bad one and was gifted a second knee brace by a passing hiker who has been camping at the same places I have been. A fringe benefit of the bad weather has been that there was still plenty of snow at the higher elevations so I could ice my knees down a few times during the day. An other benefit of the bad weather is how much better the good weather days seem, is there a word for that (when something bad makes you appreciate other things more)?
No shortage of people to hike with. I’ve hiked alone twice so far and hiked the most with two friends that rowed together in college and a guy from California. When you register as a thru hiker at the visitors center you get a number I was 1400 and he was 1401. Yesterday I hiked with a German man who speaks Spanish better than English and I got to practice the second half of the day.
Everything else: Dollars are sometimes like points, they’re a clear metric of a type of success. On the trail, miles per day are a clear metric of a type of success. Just as in ‘real life’ trying to reach those clear metrics have driven many people to push themselves in the ways they otherwise wouldn’t. In both cases, it’s not always a bad thing or a good thing. You must do at least 12 miles a day to finish and you need money to get by. Also, the people that have, or hike, less are way more likely to point out that it’s only a type of success. The clear difference on the trail is you get instant feedback that you’re doing something wrong from your body. In the Outing Club in high school we learned about something called the ‘Macho Trap’.
The macho trap is when you partake in any activity to an extent that you otherwise wouldn’t, but perceive that not doing so would make you less manly, tough, or generally lesser. I’ve read that you should stick to low milage at the start of the trail. Advice I did not care to take and didn’t understand why until my knee started hurting. It may not be true for everyone but my ligaments and joints were not as strong as my muscles. The knee started hurting after doing a 16 mile day with a couple guys and I didn’t have the sense to just stop hiking. I was diagnosed by the best PT in the country ;) and was told it’s not too bad and just need to slow down and take careful steps — far it’s on the up and up. The snow didn’t scare me nearly as bad as my knee, I was thinking that it could have been the thing that ‘ended my watch’ but I feel very optimistic about both my knees now. I’m aiming for 8–12 miles/day for the next week or so and then will try upping it, because I eventually need to average 15miles/day.
It was hard to slow down, even with the knee pain, but when I did it was kinda great. I found myself taking more pictures and enjoying the views longer. Crushing miles is great and props to all the guys & gals that came out here ready to do 20 mile days.
Apart from the knee, I’m just out here cashing happy checks. It’s an amazing opportunity to be out here and I’m grateful just to be out here. In all my planning I never really thought about the good parts, just the worst case scenarios. There are so many fantastic views and majestic forests it’s hard to know where to stop to take it in. And I have no idea how to take it all in, I just sit there like a lump and take a few pictures. Any ideas on how one should take in nature at that scale? Here are just the top 3 vistas from yesterday.
From what I understand I’ve made it past two big points where people drop off around mile 30 at Neel’s Gap and getting out of Georgia. Some of people that quit at Neel’s gap throw there boots/shoes into this tree that looked quite eerie in the rain and mist. Hopefully my shoes will remain firmly planted on my person until Maine!
Also, please donate to my fundraiser for HoTPCA!! Great organization run by fantastic people. Donate!
p.s. no trail name yet and happy checks is a Pete Holmes joke