At the time of this writing I’m 9 days into my trek. I am less than a day away from the NC border. I have been in the rain for the better part of my 11 days. I am wet and cold and exhausted, and (TMI Alert) I just got my period. Here’s the reality: this adventure is a blessing and an honor. It’s thrilling and incredible. But it is SO HARD. I have shed more tears in the past two weeks (pre-trail and during) than I have in months.
If anything ever gets me off of this trail besides Katahdin it won’t be the terrain, the muscle pain, the hiking, or the miles. It will be the mental game. The exhaustion. The rain. The cold. The blisters that will never heal. The combination of being beaten so hard and still climbing mountains while you are being pummeled by flash flood causing rain.
I am so thankful to have a support system at home that I’ve been able to contact nearly every night. My family, my counselor, my friends... most important of all has been my Mom. She has been there for me so much since I’ve left. She listens and gives me advice and mails me things that I need. She is incredible and I wouldn't be here without her.
I wrote another post about this book. Honestly it helped so much to read it before getting out here, but reading something and experiencing it are totally different.
Out here my emotions change by the hour. One second I’m homesick and the next I’m happier than I’ve ever been and laughing with friends. One second I’m crying from over exhaustion and telling my mom how much I want a bed and the next I’m happily reading in my sleeping bag waiting for the sun to go down.
So far I’ve felt (and probably all in one day):
The thing about homesickness out here is that it doesn’t feel like it used to. I used to feel homesick and feel like the only thing that will fix it is being home. Out here I KNOW that I firmly want to be out here and I want to do this and that going home will make nothing better (except maybe for a second). Homesickness has felt like an empty feeling of discomfort. My counselor pointed out to me that maybe I’m not ‘homesick’ so much as ‘out of my comfort zone’. Sure, I miss my friends, my cats, my parents, my bed, my car, WiFi, etc. But it most certainly is not worth giving up this once in a lifetime experience for all of those things and a stagnant life just because I am uncomfortable.
They say it gets easier eventually out here. This (the trail, the shelters, your tent, these towns, these people) becomes your home. But nothing new will feel like home unless you embrace it and feel all of the feelings and DON'T kick yourself for feeling them like I have for a week.
You are in now way weak, selfish, or guilty for feeling any of these feelings. In fact, you’re one among many who is feeling them and we are all expressing them in our own ways.
What I’m trying to point out with this post is that: even though my progress posts seems like I’m having a great time and hiking 11 miles in one day is just ‘hard’ that’s not everything. In any given moment my day is a rollercoaster of miserable and happy all at once. It’s not all sunshine (clearly since I’ve only seen five hours of it!). But it’s not all misery either.
The trail is 85%+ a mental game and I am fighting to win it every freaking hour.