A day in my Thru-Hiker life
After spending 13 nights on the trail now, I’m starting to find my rhythm. It goes a little like this:
6am: I wake up. Not on purpose, of course, it’s just that I went to bed at “hiker midnight,” which right now is 9pm. Also I wake up because I’m cold. I’ll roll around for another hour and a half trying unsuccessfully to go back to sleep. Sleeping face up is not one of my talents, so I’ll lay on one side until my shoulder goes numb, then switch and repeat.
7:30: It’s light out now, and a little warmer, so I put my pillow on (my fleece) and get into my camp shoes (the soles of my boots tied to my feet with parachute cord).
Now that I’m moving, it’s time to pack up. First the sleeping bag and clothes go in a dry sack, then the tent, sleeping pad, food bag, and books follow it into the red 60 liter Osprey backpack I call my own. I’ll go to a spring and get two liters of water - one to drink before I set out, and one for the day. I treat it with a UV light saber.
9:00ish: I start walking. I’ll eat a homemade Larabar (thanks mom!) or two as I go. The morning is my favorite. I hike alone and I hike fast, usually 7 miles or so before stopping for lunch. This is where I have some of my best thinking.
12:00ish: Lunch time. Some days it’s cheese and salami, others an apple with peanut butter, and still others a couple of handfuls of trail mix. It’s odd, but I eat less out here than I did in my former desk-job life, despite the fact I’m burning 6,000 calories a day. When I go into town I gorge on everything in sight to make up for it.
I take my time with lunch because I don’t stop much before or after, sometimes reading and even taking my boots off. It’s around this time that I run into other hikers.
1:00ish: This is when I fall in step with other people. The people. Good, good people out here. Some are retired, some are going to school in the fall, and some just quit their jobs like me. The one on one conversations in the afternoon are deep, personal, and shockingly open.
3:00ish: By this time we’ve probably come to a mountain and I’ve left my company in the dust. Pushing hard up the climbs, without stopping to rest, is what I do best. It provides me with a sense of accomplishment that gives me great satisfaction, and makes it easy to sleep at night.
5:00: It’s quitting time for me. Some go til the sun goes down, but I like to make camp early and read a bit before dinner. I’ll set up my tent, roll out my pad and bag, and get my camp shoes on again. My invention, as described above, has earned me the trail name “Sole Power.”
6:00: Dinner is usually something out of a bag that just needs boiling water. My favorite, for now, is rice and beans with cheese, hot sauce, and if I still am carrying one, avocado. It’s one of my luxury items.
Dinner is social time, as all of the hikers at a shelter or campsite gather around a fire. After eating, the sun goes down and we watch “Hiker TV” together - eyes glazed over transfixed on the flickering flames. Sometimes some whiskey goes around, but not always.
We talk about our packs, the day’s climbs, people we’ve met, and the food we plan to get in the next town. There is a lot of talk about food.
9:00: Hiker midnight has arrived. We are exhausted and sometimes have a hard time even staying awake to see it. I may read some more, but usually not. It’s time to pee, brush my teeth, and try once again, to fall asleep facing up.