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The AT spectrum

2011 April 23

When you walk all day, you have a lot of time to think. When you spend a zero day in a hostel due to rain, you have a lot of time to write. This is my reflection on a shift I’ve noticed in our thinking.

In order to complete the trail before Liz goes back for fall semester, we need to average 15 miles a day. So we made a schedule. It specifies days, miles, resupplies, town stops and CVS locations. That’s the beginning of the spectrum: Schedule. Statements that characterize this end are thing like: ‘We better hurry out of camp tomorrow and make good time.’ and ‘What are we going to do with this extra oatmeal packet?’

Once you’ve been out for a while you start to get accustomed to your abilities. You learn how many miles you can do in a day, what kinds of food to pick up in town, and how long it will take to get out of camp in the morning. You plan around your mileage and your town stays. That’s the middle of the spectrum: Routine. Statements that characterize this end are thing like: ‘We will make it out of camp tomorrow by nine, easy.’ and ‘Can we buy more oatmeal packets?’

Eventually, hiking becomes life and you just wake up and go. It may or may not be an easy day, but you can stop planning, stop thinking so hard about where you go next and just enjoy the journey. I think that’s the final stage of the spectrum: Rhythm. Statements that characterize this end are thing like: ‘I can’t wait to wake up to the birds tomorrow.’ and ‘Can we get something BESIDES these fricking oatmeal packets?!?’

I feel like Liz and I are shifting into the middle right now. We know we can do the miles necessary every day, so we figure where we can get a burger and shower and resupply there. It’s getting to be a routine and we like it!

Today we will buy apples for wild ponies in the Grayson Highlands and spend some time hanging out there – a luxury really – something we never would have been able to do in ‘schedule mode’ because I wasn’t sure we could afford the time from hiking. So it’s getting to be a good time.

See you out there!

5 Responses leave one →
  1. April 23, 2011

    >”Today we will buy apples for wild ponies in the Grayson Highlands”

    Um, hopefully you do NOT feed the apples directly to the ponies lest they cease being wild and become a hazard to other hikers.

    • April 25, 2011

      Under normal circumstances, I would agree with this 100%. However, they are actually feral horses rounded up for auction once a year by the government. Apparently they were introduced to keep the bald … well … bald. Feeding the ponies is actually encouraged, based on my understanding. We normally wouldn’t do that at all (it’s like feeding the bears in the Smokies), but this was a special circumstance.

  2. April 23, 2011

    Have fun with the ponies!

  3. Dear Ole Dad permalink
    April 23, 2011

    Steal a wild pony and get out of there….. happy Easter, we are going to miss you guys at dinner tomarrow. Love you and miss you lots D.O.D.

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