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Hi, I’m Rachel.

I’m a freelance writer, advocate, and podcast host! I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2018 and it changed my life. Check out my Podcast, hire me, or read about my adventures!

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This is Trail Name Here.

This is a space where I share life stories, educate, and connect people. I’m glad you’re here to join me by listening to Podcast Here, reading my blog, or looking back at my journey on the AT.

Instagram: @TrailNameHere

Day 164

Day 164

Day 164: Mile 1683 | The Yellow Deli @ Rutland, VT

I got up around 6am and went down to the deli to help with breakfast. They sent me back to the kitchen where I helped Derusha, a community member, cut vegetables and make scrambled eggs. She told me about how she came to the Yellow Deli from the Appalachian trail and then never left. We talked about how we got to where we are and what experiences lead us to hike the trail. When the food was finished cooking, with the help of five other hikers and three community members, we plated the portions on an assembly line. Rice, omelettes, tomatoes, and a garnish. Toast and watermelon were brought out on platters for the tables to share. Out in the dining room I found a seat and a mug of Yerba Mate across from Miles. The breakfast was delicious and it felt good to help the community. The hiker breakfast was free in the morning with your stay and it was, by far, the best breakfast I'd had on trail. Good, clean food that made me feel good and full.

After breakfast, we went back upstairs to the hostel. We heard someone speaking loudly and then hushed whispers as we made our way up the stairs to the bunk rooms. Someone's pack had been stolen last night. He hadn't gone to breakfast because he'd been looking for it. Someone else found the fire escape stairwell open and unlocked.

After this unfortunate event, Miles and I left the hostel for a bit. I don't know why but I was super grumpy after leaving the hostel. I think little annoyances were building up for me. I hadn't had that much alone time that didn't involve hiking. I wanted to just sit and write and be alone. I tried to compromise and spend my zero day with Miles but I just couldn't shake this irritability. He walked with me to the grocery store where I got a pint of ice cream I'd been craving the night before along with a bag of ice. He left me there after I asked him for the third time in two days why he hadn't washed his shorts that he'd worn for 8 days straight. I think I was annoying him a bit, too.

While Miles explored Rutland, I went back toward the hostel. I got a juice at the juice bar next door and then went upstairs to the deck and iced my knees that were aching. I put my ice cream in the community freezer to eat later because I wasn't ready for it at 10am. I put a note with my name on it. outside on the deck, I got two blog posts done while sitting there and the swelling in my knees went down a lot.

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While I was icing my knees a southbound girl came up and checked in to the hostel. She found me outside and we began to chat. At first it was interesting. We came from similar backgrounds in regards to school, law school, restaurant jobs, and life bullshit that we had run away from. I saw a lot of myself in her. How I was that first month. Exuding all of my anxious energy and processing thoughts out of my mouth and saddling other people with it. Not understanding how my energy affected other people.

So many things she brought up were in the past. So far in the past that they no longer really were part of her daily life. Obviously those experience stuck with her. To me it seemed like she was holding on to things in the past that had irked her. Things that didn't really matter. Things that were just adding stress to her life and infecting her with a toxic and negative energy. I tried in the moment to steer the conversation into a more positive place, but she didn't take that path.

I got tired of hearing her stories of her past that were mostly complaints. I got up and went to get my ice cream, only to find it gone and the freezer empty. Oh no! I thought. Maybe they clean it out in the mornings! Then I looked in the trash and saw an empty pint of Ben & Jerry's S'more's ice cream with my note. It had pretty clearly been eaten. I felt my face get red and hot. I was so angry. I tried to tell myself it was only a pint but I was so upset about the principle of the thing. People just don't think about their own actions and how they could affect someone else! I thought. Nothing had ever been stolen from me on trail. At least, for me, it was only a pint of ice cream and not some gear. I should have been thankful in some ways.

I stood there in the empty common room angry for a moment. I thought about my tired knees and the short walk back to the grocery store. I wanted my ice cream dammit! I went back out to the deck where I'd left my fanny pack with my wallet and phone and the southbound girl. I told her I was going to the grocery store because someone stole my ice cream. She decided she would come with me. I wasn't trying to extend an invitation but she followed me pretty quickly. All the way to the store and back I heard stories about her past and her frustrations with life and her struggles with the trail. I couldn't help but think that I must've done that to some people at the beginning of my journey. Her anxiety was palpable.

I got a new pint of ice cream and a snack for lunch. It began to rain on the way back to the hostel. I ate half the pint of ice cream in the common room and left the remainder with another note with my name on it in the freezer. I left the southbound girl and went to a coffee shop a block from the hostel. I spent my time in the empty coffee shop blogging and sipping the cheapest drip coffee they sold. The wifi was helpful for uploading my photos to Wordpress. I got tired after a couple of hours and headed back to the hostel, hoping to avoid the southbound girl. I found the bunkroom empty and I laid down on my bunk. I fell asleep almost immediately and took a one hour nap. I woke up to a text from Miles asking about dinner.

The two of us decided on a restaurant across the street from the coffee place I'd gone to. We shared a flatbread pizza and an appetizer. It was odd eating in restaurants lately. Most of them, except for the deli, had TVs in them. They distracted me. It wasn't that I was interested in the content, but I hadn't watched TV in so long that my brain was just mesmerized by the flashing light and moving pictures on the screen. It was hypnotizing. I couldn't sit in a restaurant anywhere near a TV. I couldn't focus on the conversation I was having with the person I was with. My resentment of TVs only grew stronger after this realization.

We left the restaurant and headed back to the hostel. I went to bed pretty early, after finishing my ice cream. I spent a lot of time laying in bed thinking introspectively. It felt like it was fate that I met the people that I did in Rutland. Everything this day felt like a lesson:

  • The ice cream taught me to control my anger better and to be thankful that a shitty thing wasn't worse.

  • The southbound girl taught me to be more considerate of my energy and how I might be affecting other people. Am I being negative (a.k.a. the number one thing I've worked on during this journey)? Am I clinging to something in the past that I should let go of? Is that past thing something I can reconcile? Is my energy anxious/stressful/negative? Can I turn this around?

  • The TVs made me realize how often I don't live in the moment. How many times I've been distracted: in conversations, at viewpoints on trail, in real life, etc.

  • Even meeting Derusha and making breakfast at the Yellow Deli felt like a lesson in community and how much I want to be a part of a community after trail.

Days 165 + 166

Days 165 + 166

Day 163

Day 163