Can’t believe I’ve been home now for over four weeks! After summitting Katahdin with Ed and Ben, I returned home for a planned “respit” of working at the hospital 3 days a week to reconnect with many of my patients and also to let my very sore knees and toes recover. Time has flown by and in three days I’ll be driving back to Harper’s Ferry to start my southern AT hike.
Some midway thoughts…
* First, very pleased and greatful I’ve been able to hike successfully for the first three months. A major reason for this, I think, is that I started slow and GRADUALLY built up my endurance. Started at 6-8miles a day in the beginning and by the end of Maine I was comfortably in the 12-15 mile range. My 65 year old legs needed a real rest in a hotel or hostel every 5 days or so. I believe some of those stops have been well documented in my blog pics! I broke up my hike with a few very short trips back home to recharge myself with family and friend connections. And finally, I was just very lucky not to have injured myself. Not quite every day I (and most hikers) would trip, stumble or actually fall over roots, rocks, boulders. No matter how carefull you try to be, it happens. I had a lot of bad bruises but fortunately no hike ending injuries. Four weeks later and my right hip has finally fully recovered from a nasty slip on a wet slate rock in Maine.
*Although I started the hike “alone”, hiking the trail for three months was hardly a solitary experience. The end of most hiking days was usually at a shelter where any where from 5 – 15 fellow hikers would share tenting spots and stories. Even if you decided to hike the day “alone” there are always people passing you from the opposite direction. If you stopped for a 30 minute break to rest or have a bite to eat, some recognizable hiker friends would eventually catch up or pass you. The only time I really had that feeling of being out there alone was in parts of northern Maine. By then I felt I was a “seasoned hiker” and was quite comfortable being truly solo.
*Sometimes it’s easy to get into the trap of working so hard to get work hiking done:going up and down the mountains that you don’t get to appreciate what’s going on around you. Climbing up and over rocks, boulders, streams etc takes concentration most of the time. About half way through my hike I started to make it my practice that no matter the weather, my hiking situation, how I felt or where I was… I would just STOP every hour for about 5 minutes… be still.. look around, enjoy the scenery and try to appreciate the moment. That’s a lot of moments in time. Most of them have come and gone in my memory challenged brain but I truly feel the process has great value. (it’s also nice that I take LOTS OF PICTURES with my cell phone to jolt my memory in years to come).
Best parts of the hike so far… daily interactions with so many interesting hikers on the trail… making some great new friends…getting in much better physical shape (also loosing 15 pounds)… learning new hiking skills (first time alone in the woods in a tent was just this past year for me)… sharing some hiking days actually on the trail with family and friends and… enjoying the sights and sounds of the outdoors.
I haven’t been on the couch this entire month. Here are some pics of highlights the past few weeks :
First day back to work
Went on a three day AT hike with Stephanie and friends Leslie and Tom from Great Barrington MA to Lee MA. Ten miles a day was a good intro for AT hiking for Stephanie.
Hereare some Cooperstown views from a hike to local Star Field yesterday. A week from today I should be somewhere in Virginia mountains hiking southward.