Day 137: Mile 1386.8 | Island Pond Campsite
The heat wave persisted. It seemed less bad than the day before, though, and now that I was somewhat rehydrated I was ready to hike. My leg cramp was still there but I didn't care. I needed to make some progress to get out of my mental funk. I ate Belvita bites for breakfast and we climbed up and out of the water fall area.
We had some rocky climbs throughout the day and good views. The sun beat down relentlessly.
I felt tension between Miles and I while we were walking in silence. I felt like the day before he had only stopped hiking because I was being negative and didn't want to keep hiking. I was also frustrated that whenever he had a problem on trail he would just run away from me and he wouldn't talk about it. He finally told me that whenever he ran away it was because something was bothering him and usually that something was me. It wasn't just that I was bothering him; it was that I was being negative and it was affecting him. I hadn't realized how negative I'd been or how it might bother Miles. To be honest, a lot of the incidents he listed as bothering him I hadn't even noticed that I was being negative.
I apologized and resolved to work on my negativity even more. I felt like I had really been working on it. Clearly, I'd plateaued. I urged him to be more communicative. There was no point in being upset with me and running away, in turn making me upset, when he could just tell me that my negativity was bothering him. He thought that I was aware of how negative I was being. I thought he was communicating openly with me. We agreed to communicate when something was bothering us better.
Here is a short rant about mental health and mindfulness that spurred out of my conversation with Miles. It is progress in my mind in every sense of the word but it isn't progress relating to how many miles I walked. So if you don't feel like reading about how you, too, can ditch your anxiety and depression you can just scroll past the little box below.
After that I felt much better. I even felt less tense physically. It's amazing how stressors like this in your life can impact your well being physically. I noticed how much I didn't pay attention to my body in 'everyday life' (more on my hatred of this term later...). E.g. How do my muscles feel? Am I tense? Am I dehydrated? Am I hungry? Am I stressed? Why am I stressed? Am I anxious? What is causing that Anxiety?
I rarely if ever paid attention to my well being. I didn't consistently eat properly or exercise. I quit meditation and yoga when I stopped living in the city. I was constantly fighting with people in my life and I was extremely irritable seemingly all the time. I was anxious 24/7 to the point of affecting my diet and mood. If you are anxious there is a reason why. Trust me. It may be difficult to figure out sometimes and usually even more difficult to confront. It is possible to ditch your anxiety or at least have less of it if you are more mindful.
I didn't know any of this before I left for the trail. I thought my anxiety and depression came out of nowhere, that I just had them. I felt like the world was against me. I held so much anger in my body that I started having back pain and even went to physical therapy for it. Walking in the woods made me realized there is so much more to your mind and body and all you have to do is pay attention. You don't just feel things for no reason. Sure there can be chemical imbalances that contribute to mental illness, but I think if we just pay more attention to what our bodies and minds need and try to accommodate those things we could all feel a lot better.
In this age of smart phones it is crucial to spend more time being disconnected. You don't need to check Instagram and Facebook 80 times a day! I'm not exaggerating this number, it's from a study! Walking 2,000 miles in the woods (sometimes pretty remote woods) really limits how much you can check your phone. Miles pointed out to me how much I used my phone. I didn't even register how much I had been checking my phone.
I would sit at beautiful views and take my phone out to snap a picture and then instantly turn off my airplane mode to check and see if I had service. I would habitually open Instagram and scroll - while sitting at a beautiful view! Could you imagine how much better I would feel if I simply sat there and breathed deeply while looking at a beautiful landscape? Instead I was scrolling Instagram and seeing where other hikers were, comparing myself to them and their progress and feeling like crap. Forgetting my favorite 'Hike Your Own Hike' motto.
Anyway, I've gone on too long... keep an eye out for a proper post about this when I get home...
As we walked we passed four (yes four!!) water caches set out by locals! It was the nicest trail magic I'd ever received (no offense to you amazing people who have cooked for me and housed me, nothing compares to water when you are thirstier than you've ever been in your life in a water-less state). Josh (remember him from the Smokies?) had recommended we camp at Island Pond if we could. He said it was the perfect place to chill and go swimming and there were a lot of good camp spots nearby. I thought we wouldn't end up staying there because it didn't line up with our mileage at the time so I had kind of written it off. I didn't like swimming anyway.
But when we arrived at the beautiful pond, the first of many ponds on the AT, I decided I wanted to at least soak my feet and lay on a rock in the late afternoon sun. I lay with my feet in the water soaking in the beautiful day. I washed the caked on dirt off of my legs with the water. As we sat there our laziness caught up to us. The heat was still a problem and it was wearing on our energy levels.
As the day got later, the two of us decided to set up camp near the lake. We found a nice spot away from the shore and pitched our tents. I ate dinner early and went to bed early. Miles stayed up reading in his own tent.