Knowing When to Rest
For months, Logan has been tirelessly compiling research from various sources to create this massive spreadsheet that mapped out where we’d be on each day with our prospective mileage aligning with the mile markers from AWOL. It’s quite impressive, I must say. But if there’s anything I’ve learned so far from our time on the trail, it’s that you can only plan so much…
Today, what was supposed to be our fifth day of walking on the AT, we are lounging around my sister and brother-in-law’s house in Dahlonega, GA. This day was definitely not on the spreadsheet, nor was it on our horizon until last night.
Zero (Mileage) Days
While planning our pace, I’d joke around about taking more zero days than what was on the spreadsheet already. Log would laugh at me and we’d move on – sometimes we’d even say we wouldn’t even need what was on there at all! You know, the whole pride thing.
Something that’s frustrating to me is how quickly some people want to finish their thru-hike. It’s even more frustrating to feel yourself drifting in that direction…walking 11.2 miles on your third day rather than the slow 8 that was planned. But alas, it kind of feels like a race when you get out there. And when you’re racing, you definitely don’t want to take a spur of the moment zero day. And when you do take a spur of the moment zero day, you feel somewhat ashamed to tell anyone about it.
But let me tell you a story…
On Saturday night, our second night on the trail, we set up camp in a nook a little past Gooch Gap. While we were getting the last few things situated, a group of four people passed us with their two dogs. The last guy in the group asked us if we were thru-hikers and when we said yes, he approached our camp. We talked with him for a little while – turns out that he and his gal were SOBO thru-hikers from Katahdin that were a mere 17.1 miles from finishing. He told us that they started last June and while we were all chuckling about how long that sounded, he reminded us that if finishing was our goal, then we needed to do whatever we needed to do in order to finish.
That encounter has sat with me ever since and the truth to his statement is so profound. Yesterday, we were a full day ahead of schedule by noon. My sister had been planning on bringing us our next resupply at Neel’s anyways, so we asked if we could spend the night with them and grab a hot shower. They are the most gracious hosts, so she picked us up, drove us to McDonald’s and then allowed us to stay the night with them.
Anticipating the Unexpected
After dinner, as we were looking at the weather forecast for the week, we noticed that there was a 100% chance of severe thunderstorms predicted for today, starting in the early afternoon and lasting through the night. So we decided it would be safest for us to wait it out and start back Wednesday morning.
After spending a few hours crying and shivering in my sleeping bag on Saturday night, with Logan trying to fight his negative thoughts long enough to comfort me in mine, today feels deserved. It feels necessary.
So today, our first zero day, is a symbol of doing what we need to do to finish.
We will move forward at our own pace and hike our own hike. We won’t be self-conscious about the weight of our packs or the gear we have or even the pace at which we are walking. And, we will take care of our bodies, our precious pup and make sure our minds are in healthy places before moving forward each day.
But I can ensure you one thing: we are moving forward. And we have our sights set on Maine!