Today I met Wandering Star. She is at least 70’s I think. She has done the triple crown of hiking and is currently on her third thru hike of the AT. She just loves hiking. The triple crown involves hiking the Appalachian Trail, the Pacific Crest Trail and the Continental Divide Trail. In addition to that she has done several others such as the Camino and some others overseas. What an inspiration and extremely knowledgeable lady. Her memory or where water is on this trail is amazing. I cannot remember where I stayed two nights ago and she can remember stuff from her last thru hike.
Yesterday while climbing over 3,000 feet I actually considered doing a first person what goes on inside my head account of the climb. Ultimately I think it would be too difficult for me to write so that it would be compelling reading.
However, I can share some really bizarre observations. While slogging up a slope basically heal-toeing it with each step, if there is a rock, or heaven forbid a step installed in the way, the added effort to pick your foot up that extra 2 inches can be overwhelming and you may have to stop for a break. 2 inches. Other times, especially after an extended break it is almost impossible to get momentum moving forward again if an uphill is the first thing (and it usually is). The goal is some sort of stasis where breathing, poling, heart rate and leg movement is not overwhelming any of the other parts. For me that usually means a fight. My body says “For God’s sake man, what are you doing? Go home, lay on the couch and have a glass of wine!” And that is when both breathing and heart rate decide to let me know they are not happy with me. On the flat or the down I can hold my own with anyone. The ups still kill me even though I am developing into a climber.
Apparently there is this thing called hiker hunger. When hiking up and down mountains carrying 30 to 40 pounds it is virtually impossible to eat enough to replace the 4,000 to 6,000 calories burned and hiker hunger sets in. All you think about is food. In trail towns you will eat everything in sight. My hiker hunger has not kicked in. In fact as I am getting into hiking shapes have not been very hungry at all. I do not have a scale but think I am down about 15 pounds at this point. At some point, probably sooner rather than later my hiker hunger will kick in. Perhaps after the Smokies when we start upping the daily mileage.
Tomorrow is Fontana Dam for resupply, then the Smokies. Hopefully I can give another update tomorrow evening.