Things have been far from easy. Shocker! Man, honestly, I’d like to give y’all a formal apology for the dismal, anxiety-ridden, pained posts I’ve been putting up. You deserve better if you’re coming all the way to this little corner of the internet.
So here we are, we’re getting ready to go back to the trail in one week. ONE WEEK! OH MY GOD! OH MY GOD. After helping friends and watching the little baby sister graduate and drinking and laughing and crying, Lil Wayne is making her way back to the trail. Back to Virginia. Back to the lifestyle that made life worth living.
There’s lots of things I miss so much. There’s so many little stories, so many little things! So many BIG things! But there are a few things that really stick out and I’ve got to say, I am EXTRA pumped about these things:
Brushing my teeth with a view, not a mirror. This was by far my favorite part of every morning. It’s so cool to be looking at the mountains, at the sun rising, instead of yourself as you brush your teeth.
Waking up with the sun. Nature’s alarm clock. It feels so good to be on an early-morning schedule. I adore mornings, and there’s nothing better than a good sunrise.
Mad exercise. I’m feeling so out of shape again. AT’S GOTTA KICK MY BUTT INTO GEAR!
Climbing mountains, because I’ve seem to have forgotten that at the top of a mountain is a beautiful view.
The friends! Old and new, god I’m so excited to get back into the community.
In just one week, I get it all back. All the struggles, all the rain, all the heat, all the bugs and bears, all the nights spent on cold ground, all the trees, all the rocks, all the laughs.
This hiatus has taught me a lot about the importance of focus. I’m honestly not incredibly sure how to put it all into words…
But I guess it’s pretty easy to see how insane a lack of focus can make someone. I’ve been driven to crazy, frazzled places because I was breaking up my hike, because I was trying to be everywhere at once.
You just can’t make sure everyone is happy all the time.
Baby’s goin’ back!
I’m doin’ the whole thing. I’m going to thru-hike the AT.
And this time? I’m not going to let anything stop me.
I’m talkin’, you were on top of your game, maybe in school, at work, taking names, running everything, being amazing, getting stuff done on time and then –
You wake up one morning and none of it matters anymore, because the program’s over, or you got a new job, or you’re off the trail.
I felt this way when I got graduated into the real world, when college ended and I had no “real job.” And now here I am again. Slowly going insane.
I’m sure there’s some silver lining.
Something must come out of this, right? Something good? Something important?
Look at how strong I am, or something…
It’s really difficult to tell what your important lesson is going to be when you’re in the thick of the bullshit. I’m not saying I shouldn’t be here right now, off the trail. I mean, I’m here because of low funds and family activities. Life is a flurry of high school graduations and a dear teacher’s retirement and a final family vacation and I feel like I need to be at all of it, supporting people, being there for them.
“It all works out,”
Or at least, that’s what I’m telling myself every day as I get out of bed later and groggier with increasing hangovers and less enthusiasm.
I got off the trail because my dear dear Pineapple was incredibly sick. I stayed off because of that. Then I realized I didn’t have enough money to get to Kathadin and, conveniently, a short-term babysitting job appeared. Then I had to be local for my sister’s graduation and family vacation. So, in a quick extreme landslide, I will have been off the trail for 2 months.
That’s totally not what I imagined.
So, “It’s all working out!” I say. Over. And over. To convince myself that this was worth it, that losing my trail friends had to happen, that I’m going to be back on the trail soon, that it’s going to be fine that this is all…
On the bright side,
There’s lots of things to keep me busy here! (Sort of!)
Look, I can do THIS now!
Look at this ART! WOW! RIGHT?! I HAND DREW THAT!!
And I’m applying for “real jobs” for when I get back! Hell, I’ve already gotten an interview for one! Isn’t that exquisite?! Turns out, I can function in society (I think).
Going insane is truly an art form.
Maybe this is somehow backwardly connected to the frugality and hard-working-mindset that my mother taught me early on in life, but I believe that something should come out of every thing that you do.
Being depressed and upset and going insane should not happen silently. It should lead you to brilliant or dangerous places, where you can learn and grow and leave a mark. If you’re going to go insane, you might as well make something of it.
I got thrown into a deep hole of depression this past week because I wasn’t doing anything with my shitty mindset. I wasn’t hiking, I wasn’t making friends, I wasn’t really talking to anyone. I was just sitting in a bathtub watching Angelina Jolie movies or Archer on repeat. Sounds like a scene out of a movie, but felt real bad.
Then, honestly, there was a combination of talking to Pineapple and my dear friend Carleton and somehow, some way, they both convinced me that despite all the boring bullshit happening right now, I am still a bad ass and need to keep going. Actually, when I was talking to them, giving up was never an option.
Lonely Wayne makes a break for it.
What helps in these situations?
I want to believe I’m making a break for it. I want to escape and be wild. Truth be told, I don’t know what’s going to happen to me. I’m going to get back on the Appalachian Trail whether it runs my bank account clean or not. And then? …And then and then and then.
Who knows, you might be able to find me anywhere in the world.
Ah well, you know me! Never can stick to one plan. So, you’re probably wondering,
Why hasn’t she posted anything new?!? What’s going on?! Where IS Wayne?!
Simple answer: Money Sucks. Oh wait, that doesn’t really specifically answer anything, does it? Let’s rewind –
De Nile Isn’t Just A River In Africa
I am in some serious denial right now because I am still in civilization and not back on the trail. I’m home in Richmond because I ran out of money. Having all that time to think at Pineapple’s house made me realize how monetarily unprepared I am to hike all the way to Kathadin.
I feel like I’m failing myself because I’m here right now. It’s overwhelming to have lost all that incredible momentum I had on the trail.
But then? Well, here’s a reality check for ya
I’m here to earn more money so that I can keep hiking
Let’s not forget that in order to qualify as an “official” thru-hiker, a “2000 Miler,” if you will, you get an entire calendar year to do so.
Everyone who’s still on the trail either had enough money prepared to hike more than 2 months OR didn’t get injured, two things that occurred in my story.
I still hiked 400 miles, which is p dope.
Guys, it’s hard to stay positive. It’s hard being in the middle of this story and having it change so many times. It’s really difficult. I dunno, are you exhausted? You must be, reading all this back and forth.
For the Next Month,
I’m going to be in Richmond, VA sitting on babies and saving my money so I can make it back out there in mid-June.
So that being said, if you’re in the Richmond area and need a babysitter, look no further! This girl loves kids, has got no social life, and will cater to your pets/cooking/cleaning etc etc.
Call it being overactive, ADD, super excited or whatever. I don’t like sitting down in a house when there are things to do. Even right now, as I am taking a short holiday in the beautiful home of Pineapple’s family, I want to
Clean the kitchen
Go on a run
Finish reading that book Brian suggested
Write this blog
Write a book
Write a letter to my long lost friend
And I’m thinking about all these things, thinking really hard, thinking too much, getting antsy, fighting my insides when in reality? It’s really not a crime to just sit for a second. Or a minute. Or an hour.
I am working hard. I always am. Why do I feel so bad for taking time off the trail to exist, to chill?
Stop. Pause. Rewind. Where ARE you, Wayne?
OH, that’s right, you probably have no idea what’s actually going on. So, I was in Damascus, VA with Pineapple not too long ago when he started coughing more. A lot, actually. We thus decided to extend the already planned double-zero with his family and got picked up early. Except then, when we got back to his house, things began to look grim for his health.
I am a lover, a fighter, and a supporter. Which leads me to my current position in taking time off to help this kid fight through whatever ailment this is. Cool beans, totally fine.
So now he’s all like, “Wayne, what are you freaking out about?” because I’m pacing back and forth and then sitting down and fidgeting and planning and almost yelling and cleaning his kitchen until it shines in places it doesn’t even need to because I can’t stop thinking or planning or freaking out.
Take YOUR time!
So now it’s got me thinking about taking my time. This is my time to have, my time to spend on whatever I want. Due to my deep care for a friend, I ended up in a lovely home in Virginia off of the Trail, making new friends and learning about philosophy and theology.
I am hiking the Appalachian Trail. I am attempting to make it a formal thru-hike, 2200 miles in one calendar year. It’s going to happen in pieces, but it’s going to happen fully.
At first I saw “taking your time” to mean going slow, going at your own pace. But then, today, I started thinking more about it. Wasn’t the point of this trip for one to take ownership over one’s time? How could I possibly forget that!
Here I am in between a new dear friend, a crazy hike, my familial obligations, and a duty to keep working to give this blog valid fulfillment. That’s why – that right there, that’s all in my mind, almost constantly. How to make it all work, how to fit all the dedication and the loyalty in my heart into reality. It seems there’s more room for that stuff in my heart than there is in the real world. Maybe it comes down to lack of resources rather than space.
Either way, I feel myself breaking and expanding into something more, something stronger. Much like scars are tougher than the skin that broke, I am stretching and breaking to fit more in, to be able to hold all this “more” tighter.
This sense of guilt, of duty, is hurting me more than it’s helping. In the end, no one owes anyone anything beyond kindness and understanding. And in my situation, there’s no reason to justify, to fight against people who support you, who listen to your story. There are no fingers to be pointed, no havoc to be wreaked. I am creating a false sense of immediacy and pressure in a world that demands nothing but genuineness. Being away from the Trail has brought back the negativity my mind used to hold. I am wont to worry, to pressure myself into creating something of “worth.”
Worthiness will come.
A Woman With a Plan
I’m going back to the trail on Thursday. Here’s the plan, Stan: hike the trail locally until Pineapple gets better, hitch a ride with the family back to Damascus, keep hiking until Elena’s graduation, go do that, then come back!
It’s still happening, and I need to remember that. I get so antsy, so confused, and so sad to update people when I get off the Trail. But this is all part of it. These side trips are all part of the big journey.
I’ve been having a ball with Pineapple’s fam. Oh my gosh, they seriously are the coolest group of cats! I’m learning about philosophy and theology from Brian who’s got a big shiny Ph. D, and the ladies of the house are the most positive, beautiful, forward thinking people I’ve met in a long time.
So cheers to the future, cheers to wherever this adventure will bring me next.
I hope you take your time, take your time by the reigns because we only got so much of it! And it’s best spent living, no?
Oh how the times have changed! Don’t worry folks, I’m alive and much more betterer at camping and the woods are so much less scary than I thought! This trip has taught me a whole bunch about facing fears and finding the strength within yourself to accomplish crazy feats.
So, from the small amount of time I’ve spent around/talking to friends or fam who want to know about trail life, these are some common questions I’ve come across.
What do you eat?
Ramen, instant mashed potatoes (sometimes together, that’s called a Rom Bomb), rice, cliff bars, pop tarts, other protein bars, nuts on nuts on nuts, tuna, chicken, tortillas, and Nutella. Turns out (in a shocking turn of events) that your body will start to crave/need fresh food eventually, so I get that when I get into town. My diet’s undergoing a huge change as we speak to include more grains (like quinoa!) and fresh food on the first day after resupplying.
So, where do you sleep at night?
In a tent. In a campground. There are campgrounds. Where you camp. It’s, I know, it can get complicated but I find my way.
Ok all silly sarcasm aside, one can either “stealth camp” at an unmarked flat area on the side of the trail where there is probably a fire pit made of stones but maybe not any water, or a shelter that is marked in the guidebook. Shelters might have privys where one can #2 and they will definitely have a picnic table and area to camp. I prefer camping because shelters can get cramped and people tend to snore.
Do you plan out your day or just go?
Not really! Yeah we mostly just go! Enough planning does happen for resupplying, though. You got to know about how many days it’ll be before you get into a town so you can buy an adequate amount of food.
When do you get up in the morning?
Mostly with the sun, except for when it’s cloudy or raining. It takes me about an hour to eat/chill/write/pack up every morning regardless of the hour of rising.
What do you do when it rains?
I heard about “hiker midnight,” you must go to sleep so early!
Hah, yeah but no. Nearly everyone is passed out or in their tents by the time the sun sets but I can’t sleep and stay up with my headlamp writing or looking at the stars.
Have you seen any bears?!
Are you alone? Or do you see a lot of hikers?
I never feel alone. The hikers are definitely starting to spread out. So at the beginning you’d pass at least 5-10 hikers every day. The shelters are places where hikers accumulate. Only once did we end up at a shelter alone, which was strange. Most hikers plan their hike by making it to a shelter at night.
That’s another thing – “we.” I am lucky enough to have someone who puts up with my antics and pace. His name is Pineapple and he’s the one in all the photos and we talk a lot or just walk in silence, either way we have fun. We end up alongside other hikers and keep seeing them. It’s exciting to see old faces that you haven’t seen in awhile when everyone ends up catching up to each other. Like the other day! Pineapple and I have been going slower so we got to see Hobo Joe and Gears again! It was amazing! The thing about these beautiful gentlemen is that they’re not as slow or old as they may say to you – they’re really abled bodied hikers – they just take more time off than we do because they have family and friends to see along the trail.
You meet people, you see them a few nights in a row in the woods or in town, you summit mountains with them, you lose them, then you somehow miraculously find them again.
So that’s how the cookie crumbles!
Thassit, that’s my life. It’s hard to explain but it’s really not complicated. Even when things get difficult, you keep going. Movement and momentum, motivation – it’s all in abundance out on the Appalachian Trail.
That’s right! One beach, lots of cousins/family friends, and five hours of car time later I am back on the Appalachian Trail!
Today, an awesome thing happened: I hiked down a hill without experiencing excruciating pain!! It’s crazy, I honestly didn’t realize until now just how much pain I was in prior to the week break.
Did you see a doc?
Nah, man. After doing some thorough internet research, I’ve concluded it was just strained muscles. After 2 days of hiking, I haven’t felt any sort of pain comparable to that which plagued me prior to the break. So no doc for this girl. Plus, I’m eating an apple every day so I should be set right?
How’d You Get Back?!
In the beautiful new car chaufeurred by my dear cousin Jack! We took a quick 5 hour ride down to Roan Mountain where Pineapple waited with a bummed heel. Ah the woes of pulling muscles. Don’t worry, he’s a boss, he’ll be fine. We hiked two days from Hughes Gap back to 19E.
Here’s us and Jack! As you can see, we’re havin’ a grrrrreat time
The Art Of Staying Positive
It’s been purty rainy down here in the hills of Tennessee/North Carolina. We were purty damp by the time we arrived at camp and spent the night getting more damp. The rain didn’t stop and my sleeping bag got wet because the wind was blowing directly onto my tent and I slept too close to the sides. My shoes were still damp in the morning. You wanna talk to me about pruned feet? Holy COW the entire SOLE of my foot was white and wrinkled by the end of the day!
But woah, slow down Sea Biscuit! Rarely can one see a frown on my face. Nay, I am happy as a clam, even if that means being a damp clam. Here are some tactics I use to stay excrutiatingly positive:
Always look on the briiiiight siiiiiide of life! Yeah, it’s raining now. But the rain will stop eventually. The sun HAS to come out again! And when it does? Take that tent out and DRY it! Bask in the sun! Get repaired! Yesterday blue skies broke through the cloud cover around 3pm, and it was god damned unexpectedly beautiful. Imagine if whatever drama problem you had in your life right now could disappear by 3pm. Dope, right?
Excersize makes ya happy so don’t you dare stop moving!
Good humans = good times. Find someone to set up camp with and laugh about how frigid you are, how deeply satisfying it is to put on dry clothes. Find someone to cuddle up with and cook food in the vestibule of your tent with. You’ll stay warmer that way anyway.
Don’t spend too much time over thinking in the morning. Sure, sometimes it’s definitely nice to get up and smell the flowers and watch the sunrise before starting a day’s hike. But if the sunrise and flowers are covered in fog and it is raining do not stay in your tent too long. That is a recipe for overthinking which leads to an explicit loss of motivation. Just keep hiking, just keep hiking, la la la la doo beep boop ba!
Hostel Review: Mountain Harbor
Beautiful, easy place to stay. Definitely refreshing! The hostel is cute and cheap – we tented out back to save some cash. I highly recommend this place because of it’s ease and also it’s breakfast. If you’re not staying and just want to do laundry and a shower, the convenience factor is high! If you are staying, GET THE BREAKFAST. Mary and Shannon are amazing women who will feed you ample home cooked dishes and fresh fruit. Aye. Beautiful.
What’s The Plan Now, Stan?
To HIKE ON! Yes, the time cometh where I am strong, I am knowledgeable, I am so much less afraid that I was three weeks ago. I am not invincible, but I am a hiker god damn it!
By the looks of it, me and Pineapple should be in Damascus, VA in a week! In the mean time we’re going to hike, avoid thunder storms, be awesome, have fun, and visit with his fam! That’s right, I get another weekend with the dopest Pinkston’s.