8 days in and many, many more to go. I couldn’t have asked for a better start to the adventure. I’m averaging about 10 miles a day and starting to feel my “hiking body” take shape. The pack is resting more comfortably on my frame, my shoulders are holstering the weight with less strain, and my calves are already beasts. My feet are holding up as well as can be expected. No blisters yet (some hikers are already lancing blisters daily) but I’ve got some chafed skin on the tops of my toes to tend to.
I’ve had the pleasure of sharing most of my days and camping every night with phenomenal company. Engaging conversation helps the miles roll by, and every night at our campsite we further settle into the comfort of our organically formed community. We haven’t committed to travel as a group for the long haul at this point (and often spend days leap frogging each other as we hike) but I’ve thoroughly enjoyed getting to know everyone’s story and having each other’s backs as we grapple with the early challenges of the trek. It’s hard to believe I’ve only known these people for a matter of days.
I had a pack shakedown at Mountain Crossings (Neel Gap) and dropped over 3 lbs of gear, which no joke makes a difference. Still working on not over packing my food and lightening my water load (1 L is 2.2 lbs which adds up fast!). My pack weight is currently about 37lbs with 4 days of food and 2 liters of water. I expect to slim it down further as I go, but this is a fine place to start.
There are too many “firsts” to count but some favorites are hiking 8 miles in 3 hours, hanging my food bag without assistance (I trained with a bear canister), hitching in the back of a pickup truck, and staying asleep for more than an hour at a time during crazy storms.
I’ve been keeping to my goal of personal journaling and working on some form of creative writing every night. I’m an actor and writer by trade and have fallen out of practice at continually generating material. Whether it’s outlining the scene of a play, brainstorming a short film concept, writing a poem, or just stream of conscious rambling, this has already been a fulfilling pursuit and I damn well better keep it up. No editing, no self-censoring, just creating. I’m also reading IT, a book I’ve wanted to chomp into since I was a little kid. A perfect book to read by headlamp in the middle of a downpour.
Oh, and I have a Trail Name! Spur, given to me by Banana Man. On an emotional level it resonates with the garbage year of divorce that spurred me to take back control over my life and set off on this journey. On a more literal level, I have a heel spur (google image search the little bastard) on my left foot that requires orthotics to manage and may cause me to get a cortisone shot along the way. It is empowering to know that I have a raptor talon growing off my bone and I’m still living this dream to its fullest.