People take long thru-hikes to prove their determination and perseverance to themselves, despite blisters, sore muscles, and starvation.
I learned that from reading this book written by an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker, My Own Hike: A Woman’s Journey on the Appalachian Trail. I found her book after reading some of her articles. She has written extensively about the Appalachian Trail and hiking issues.
I’m planning my own long-distance hiking experiences, and am getting myself ready. By long distance, I don’t mean I’ll be on a 2000 mile hike. I think 160 miles is enough, to start. I could not even take enough time off work to hike the Appalachian or Pacific Crest trails.
I hiked three miles yesterday, without a break. I’ve done that hike many times before – it is from my house to the campground on the other side of the river.
I hike down the highway to the bridge, over, double back on the other side, and go downhill to the campground. Then on the way back I get a few good uphill climbs.
Unfortunately, my quick pace and bad shoes resulted in tiny but painful blisters on my toes – one on each foot. I thought about whether I should walk again today. I haven’t purchased the 2nd Skin Squares yet… they are on my hiking wish list but they’d be more use in my backpack right now, or better yet, on my toes! I will have to use ordinary bandaids to get by today, because I’ve already decided that pain or not, I must continue hiking.You see, thru-hikers on the long trails here in America don’t have a choice. If they have blisters, they must hike anyway because they’re carrying a limited food supply and survival depends on getting to the next resupply box or town before the food runs out. Not hiking is not an option. Since I’m getting ready for a long hike, I should embrace the blister experience and hike anyway.
My other big trauma with hiking is the fear of wild animals. We rarely see them, but when we do, they’re impressive. Well, the big ones are.
I’ve never seen a mountain lion or cougar when out hiking. I’ve only seen them while driving, or at home on my porch. But when I’m hiking, I feel enormously exposed – just one little human being hoping that I don’t look like some big cat’s hope of lunch. Because of this, I’ve been arming myself. I have a pocket knife, a hiking stick with a point on the end (I just need to remove the tip cover), and a little sack full of rocks to throw… thinking that they might deter loose and aggressive dogs, if need be. I’m also considering pepper spray.
I don’t like the idea of hurting someone’s dog but if they own an aggressive dog and don’t keep it leashed, that’s the kind of thing they can expect to have happen. I’d rather spray a dog than have it bite me.
My fear of mountain lions is fairly unfounded. They rarely attack humans. I heard that there was one known mountain lion attack in this area – many decades ago. Apparently a child was attacked. The thing not to do if you see one, is to run. Better to stay still and stare it down. Try to look larger and back away slowly. Knowing what to do when a cougar is seen is paramount to survival in the woods. I really shouldn’t worry about this as much as I do. I’m planning to read Feel the Fear . . . and Do It Anyway to deal with my fears.