Sunday, March 25, 2012

Backpacking on St. Patrick's Day

We took the easy route. Rather than fight to get up blearily on Saturday for a three hour drive down to George Washington National Forest, my friend took off work early Friday and we drove down that afternoon. I'm currently employed as a through hiker in training and as such had no time constraints of my own.

Our plan was to use the Massanutten Trail to connect Strickler Knob, Duncan Knob, a hang glider launching site, and Kennedy Peak. The hike works as a point to point excursion so we set up one car at each endpoint. It was to be two nights and two days out in the forests of George Washington for my last great trip in Maryland before I head out to Springer Mountain.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Mental Toughness

The Appalachian Trail is no bed of roses. (Wouldn't it be weird if it was? Tea ingredients underfoot! And those thorns would be a pain for 2000 miles.) The trail is hard work and it repeats day after day. The mental aspect of the hike is probably more trying than the physical aspect. After a while, the beautiful vistas and wonderful experience of being outside recede into the background, sometimes replaced by a longing to finish and finish quickly.

Going into this journey I know that it will not be a walk in the park. At times I will be transported beyond joy. Other times, I will shake in terror as the lightning flashes overhead and a beast of the night checks to see if I am edible. A large portion of my time will be spent walking. A lot of that walking will be in the rain. And a good portion of walking in the rain will be boring. At times I will be hurt, I will be exhausted, I will be hungry. Sometimes I may despair of ever getting to the next stream, road crossing, supply point, or summit. In order to finish I must be prepared to deal with the mental rigors as much as the physical. Below are strategies that I use and have found to work for me.