I was out on the trail today.
Not the Appalachian Trail, mind you, but just good old French Creek State Park. I did ten miles in snow ranging from a coating to an inch. This was where I did the lion’s share of my AT training, so it was interesting to get back there for the first time since last winter.
Let’s just say I noticed a few differences.
First, I finished the ten miles well before noon—something I’d never managed to do before I started the thru-hike, and I certainly never managed to do on the thru-hike. Upshot: I still have my trail legs, more or less, and I was carrying just a daypack. Pack weight is key, as if I needed any more evidence of that. I’m planning to downgrade my base pack weight significantly in the next year, either by buying new (improved!) stuff or by dirtbagging and making my own. Frankengear!
Second, now that I know which insoles work for me, I’ve been going back through some of the shoes I eliminated in 2012 (they’re all new shoes, after all). I’m having much better luck with the Brooks runners than I did last year. If I were starting another thru tomorrow, I’d go with those. Apparently Brooks Cascadias are the most-used shoe on the PCT.
Third… well, there isn’t really a third. I was so happy to steal that time and go back out, even for just a morning! I’m going to try to get up there twice a week, or at least once, if I can jam my workload into the other five days. Because I need to work. Because I need to save money so I can do the PCT!
There, I said it. It’ll be seven or ten years, and the first step is to pay off my AT trail debt, but I’ve got some plans in the works. I’ve always been a ten-year planner anyway. I play the long game.
I’d like to do another AT hike at some point, too, I think. I know it’s about the journey, but I want to do one that’s also about the miles. You know–not a flip-flop. An April start with an October finish.
As far as reentry goes, I think I’m readjusted in all the ways that readjustment is possible. However, I’ve changed so utterly that in a lot of ways I’ll never go back to the way I was. The shell’s cracked open; the dragon can’t crawl back into her egg.
There are so many things that simply roll off my back now. It’s fantastic.
I can’t wait to hit the trail again this spring. It’ll just be overnights here and there, maybe a weekend or a week. But out there! Out in the woods!
Anyway, I wanted to stick my head in and say HAPPY NEW YEAR to everybody! It was the best year ever! 🙂
Oh, one addendum. The weight. I came home and lost five more pounds. I assume that was my hard-earned trail muscle turning back to its native state: flabby mcflabflab. Since then, I’ve gained about two or three of those back—a trend I don’t like at all, but it has been Thanksgiving and Christmas (and New Years and my birthday are next week), so I’m trying not to beat myself up too much about it. I’m currently at about one to two pounds lower than where I was when I finished (five weeks ago), but two to three pounds higher than that lowest base weight. Which means I’m on some sort of a diet starting Wednesday. Less weight upstairs means less work for the knees and the feet. Also, smaller clothes, a smaller sleeping bag, smaller gear in general, lower food requirements… all of which adds up to less weight in the pack.
Got any hot plans for New Years? Or 2014 for that matter? Do they involve hiking? Because mine do! 🙂 Wish you were here!