Embrace the Gap

Like all children, I lost baby teeth and grew adult ones. I thought that my two front top teeth would continue to grow until the gap between them would just fill in. It didn’t happen. I also noticed, that my Dad’s teeth were the same as mine. I tried everything I could to try to get rid of that gap. I tried braces, an operation to remove the gum between the teeth and ultimately but unsuccessfully, I had the dentist drill a hole in the side of each tooth and put a filling that matched the color of my teeth and connected them together. That last attempt would break every time I used a spoon and accidentally hit one tooth. Snap! Separation, ugh!

Eventually, I gave up. I could accept my teeth the way they are or let the comments I hear, even now, become an upward climb.Recently, a little girl smiled at me and I smiled at her. Then, she asked me how I lost my tooth. I was about to answer her when her father said, “Shhhh, that’s not nice.” The girl looked confused at her father and then concerned at me. I shrugged and went on my way smiling. Then my dad asked me 3 weeks ago, “Why don’t you get a tooth put in your mouth?” I just answered him, “Well, I inherited your teeth.”

I suppose you are all wondering why I am talking about teeth, when this blog is about the Appalachian Trail?Well, it’s the gaps. Without those gaps in the mountains, we wouldn’t know about high points or low points. And, if we filled in all those gaps, we would just be hiking on very flat monotonous land and what would be the fun in that?

So, as I hike past Deep Gap, Low Gap and Unnamed Gap, I have the biggest smile and the hiker going past smiles back because we are both embracing the gap. What a glorious day!

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SOBO, NOBO or Flip Flop: Who Care’s, I Just Want Some Cookies!

Some hikers are south bound (SOBO). Some hikers are north bound (NOBO). Some hikers start in one location and hike either south or north and then shuttle back to their starting point and hike the opposite direction. It really doesn’t matter. It’s all about personal preference. In the grand scheme, it’s all about the cookies.

Food, it’s on every hikers mind. How much to carry? How many calories? Can I count on trail magic or stores along the way so that I can carry less food?

Every hiker in the beginning, always carries more food than they will eat. I carried more food than I needed all of 2016.

My last night on the trail, I finally got it right. I had 1 breakfast left. Trouble with that, a mouse the last night just couldn’t leave my food bag alone. I guess he wanted my oatmeal more than I did. I tried to get him off my bag twice during the night, but exhaustion took me. I woke in the morning to the telltale hole in my food bag. Oatmeal gone, but at least I had my coffee.

I would have to wait till Abol Bridge to get my husband Tom’s homemade chocolate chip cookies.

Reminiscing from Grayson Highlands 2019

End of the First Day Blues

The excitement of the trail, quickly turned in to, damn I’m getting old. Which computes to out of shape.

I haven’t really expressed how hard the beginning of any hike on the Appalachian Trail is.

Being from Northern Minnesota, a body kind of gets used to cool weather. So, going from 30 degrees to 70, well it feels hot. Then add a 25 lb backpack. It started at 21, but there is always last minute “stuff” and water. I find out within minutes of the climb, in the sun, with no breeze that I wish I was still close enough to a garbage can or hiker box so I could get rid of the last minute stuff and even a few more items.

About 10 minutes later, if that, that pack is weighing on my shoulders and hips in a way that leaves bruises behind. Then the knees start to ache and the big toe nails start to throb.

Damn that sun, I think I’m going to puke that 12 ounces of water I just guzzled. I’d like to stop on this incline, but if I do, oh the strain on the back of the legs.

When I finally get to stumble into camp at 4 pm. Every part of my body is on fire and throbbing.

I start chanting, “Vitamin I, Vitamin I, a healthy supply of Vitamin I!”

On the trail Vitamin I refers to ibuprofen. Don’t leave home without it.

Hiker midnight is, well for me it is 7:30 pm. That just means that when I finally get to lay down in my tent after supper, it’s way past my bedtime.

Within a short time I fall asleep. I wake up to the sound of Spirit’s air mattress having the air let out and I know I over slept.

Time to get up and repeat yesterday. Hikers say after repeating this routine for 5 weeks you will get your stride. Hmm, this time I’m here for 4. Looks like I’m up a creek without a paddle.

Vitamin I…

Creature Comforts

Yes, we are on the road, for a reunion of sorts. Just like on the AT, I’m counting the states we are going through. Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Indiana… There is excitement as well as fear. Maybe they always go hand in hand. This hike with touch 3 states by foot. A few more by vehicle.

I have tried hard not to think about the weather, but the month leading up to this hike has had nothing but weather in the news. We got snow a few days back, and not just a dusting. So, I think to myself, “We are going south, it’s got to get better.” Well if the drive is any indication, we are in for it.

This a.m. I decided to check the weather around Elk Park, NC. Tom has been telling me for a week we are going to be in rain. I’m thinking to myself, “Don’t rain on my parade.” It seems my mother’s voice always comes through with these little quips. Best to keep them to myself! (Also on of mom’s). Anyway, the rain is to start Thursday and continue on through to Monday.

It’s a wet year for the trail as we hikers like to say. 2015 was wet, 2016 was dry. So dry that I really don’t remember many bugs.

So, I sat on the edge of our hotel bed and thought about creature comforts.

Oh, that warm hot shower, dry feet, a comfortable bed. Then I think about cooking in the rain with drops of rain running off my rain hood into my meal and it makes me smile and almost laugh out loud. Something is definitely wrong with me you all might be thinking. But, during those moments for me, that’s all I have to think about. I don’t have to think about what’s in the news, or worry about my parents in the nursing home, my children and their families. I carry them all with me but the worries which do us no good just seem to slip away. I am just in that moment, letting the rain wash away the worries of the past three years and maybe, maybe a few beyond those.