There’s a certain pride I’ve had to fight in attempting a thruhike. Even in the early days of planning, my prideful self wanted to be able to start in Georgia and hike straight through to Maine, but it just didn’t make sense with our schedule. A flip-flop was the answer. It wasn’t even a traditional flip-flop, starting at Harper’s Ferry – we were starting in the middle of New York. Obviously, my pride got over it and I’m really glad we started where/when we did.
Another pride battle came right during the first few days as we would chat with thruhikers and then they’d ask how far we were going the next day. At this point, the thruhikers we meet have already hiked 1,500 miles and have their certified “trail legs.” Clearly, we’re not quite there yet. Sticking with low mileage in the beginning was a piece of advice we got from a lot of people and something that we decided to do. But when people around you are covering 15-25 miles in a day and you’re doing 6-10 miles, it’s easy to feel like less of a hiker. I want to be able to do those big miles, but I know it’s important to let your body adjust and to work up to earning your “trail legs.” It’s something I’m accepting each day.
Then comes the biggest pride battle. The one where I want to look like a super awesome hiker chick. Someone who is just killing the miles and having the time of her life. Now sometimes that’s exactly how a day goes – we finish our miles early or just feel really awesome all day, but more often than not – it’s really hard. Most of your view is the ground. Roots, rocks, dirt, more roots, more rocks, and more dirt. Your pack feels weighty. Your feet feel tired. Your knees creak on the downhills. Your breathing is heavy on the uphills. You’re covered in sweat. You start wishing something would happen that would force you off the trail so you wouldn’t have to decide to quit for no good reason. But you have to stop. And you have to tell yourself to snap out of it. Because all of that isn’t why you came out here. You didn’t want to hike just to look cool or get more Instagram followers. You came out here for bigger reasons. To change yourself. To reset priorities. To rise to the challenges. To come out stronger. Most things worth achieving aren’t easy. They come at a cost.
So, each morning I have to choose joy. I have choose positivity. I have choose thankfulness and awe. Life isn’t all beautiful vistas, much of it is roots, rocks, and dirt. The little day to day things.
This thruhike is the most humbling thing I’ve ever done. And I hope that I can share both the challenges and the victories with you. And I hope that you will continue to lift me up in prayer – that the challenges will humble, but not dishearten and that the victories will bring praise not to me but to Christ.