Wake Up, Hike. Sit down, Hike.
No seriously, I mean, all we do is hike. Alright, it’s a little more in-depth than that, my friend. There’s setting up camp, breaking down camp, making fires, trying not to die in the middle of a freezing evening.
Sometimes, when we’re walking along a ledge, I’ll look down it and sing, “It’s a long way to the ground if you wanna rock and roooooollll.”
7:45am – Sunrise
Get up with the sun, watch it rise over the hills because you probably camped somewhere with mad views, yo. There are a few ways this moment can go:
- If it’s mild outside, you’ll enjoy the hell out of it with a cup of black instant coffee.
- If it’s your first morning, you’ll feel so god damn refreshed.
- You will stand in front of the views with one hand on your hip while you brush your teeth thinking, “This…this really is the LIFE.”
- You will definitely make coffee, slowly eat something, and enjoy easy conversation with your partner.
- If it’s freezing and windy, you might get knocked down and you will stay in your sleeping bag. You will not make coffee. You will slowly peak through the rain cover of your tent and yell to your partner, “OH MY GOD.”
8:30am-9:45am – Packing Up Camp
There’s a variation of time here because sometimes you move fast, other times you move slow. When it’s nice out, you will move slow. You will relish in all the moments of getting your food and smellables down from a tree. You will fold up your tent and refill your pack with a renewed joy. The trail is waiting!
But some mornings it is cold. Sometimes you wake up inside a tent covered in frost. You will then roll over with a cold nose, complain to your partner, run to get your shit, skip taking a shit, and haul everything into your pack. The worst moment in all of this is having to get out of your bag for the last time before having to fold up everything with cold fingers and no hope of warmth until you get moving again.
9:45am – Resuming the hike.
Get back on the trail feeling positive because this was your choosing, this is all your doing. You are in charge of the ultimate outcome for the day, the week, the month. This is your hike, your moment. And you’ve got a best friend doing it with you.
Look at the sun shine. Look at all the spaces in between the trees. Even if it’s freezing, this is a beautiful day.
Look for water, you probably don’t have enough from last night. Make a Spongebob joke about how you really need water. You need it. You really need it.
1:30pm – Break and Lunch
You’ve probably had a few breaks now, especially if it’s hot, or if there’s lots of hard climbs. Eventually you will realize you are super hungry and the snacks aren’t doing it for you. You need to sit and sweat and eat some dry Ramen. You should do this on top of a mountain and not in a gap, because making a climb after lunch really hurts the tummy.
3:00pm – Break and Regroup
Where are you? You don’t really know. You don’t have the map, just the guidebook. Honestly, everything kind of looks the same and every time you look at the guidebook you instantly forget all the names of the gaps and the mountains and the swags and the ridges after you close it and nestle it back in your pack. What’s the difference between Steelhead Gap and Sassafrass lalala.
At this point you make a definite goal for where you’re going to end up at the end of the day. You want to end up tenting somewhere because you hear the shelters are full of people and mice, plus you are OUT here. Might as well camp, right?
6:30pm – Desperately search for a site
You can’t blaze new tent sites, so you need to find one. Except the sun is setting and you are so tired. Your feet and calves are really hurting you now. Every time you stop it gets harder to start again. You have no idea how many miles you’ve actually hiked.
At first it was easy to find a site, but now they seem to be less and less plentiful. You come up with chants to keep yourself going. “Grapes. Are. Awesome. And. So. ARE. YOU!” You look back to make sure your partner is still there. You share a look of delirious exhaustion and disdain.
7:15pm – Hallelujah There’s a Site
You see your partner raise his fists into the air up ahead. Praise be, you found a site. You desperately unclip your pack and peel it off of you. You sit down on a log. You take your shoes off to air out your sweaty feet. You are alive, you made it.
Now you have to set up camp. And make dinner.
You set up the tent in the waning daylight to get it over with. Then you collect firewood and build a setup, no matter how windy it is. Seriously. Nothing will stop you. The fire is a comfort, a staple, a ritual.
Eventually you make your dinner, which tastes so good. You eat any left over snacks from the day and relish in the peace of the woods. As the sun sets, you laugh about how long the day was, how hard you worked, how beautiful everything is.
9:00pm – Peace.
You sit with your partner. You have cleaned out all your food stuff and found a tree with a big side branch with your headlamp on. If you’re Therese, you tie a bunch of sticks together and toss it over. You get better and better at this every night. Your partner ties some master knots and once everything is hung, you sit down in front of the fire.
If it is freezing, you grab your blanket.
You sit and look at the mountains or the woods or the stars. The stars are amazing and bright, brighter than you’ve ever seen before. You can almost see spots after looking at them for so long.
The woods is silent except for the wind. Sometimes you hear a rustle that makes you jerk your head. You wonder when you’re going to see a bear.
In this world, 9pm is late. You start to feel tired. You stare at the fire and have scant conversation with your partner. Everything feels perfectly in place. You are truly happy, even if you’re a little nervous about the wild life.
Each night, you feel better and better about going to sleep.
If it’s cold you’ll keep waking up in the middle of the night. You’ll have delusions about a squad of raccoons stealing your pack. You’ll wonder if your smellables got blown away in the harsh wind. You might even run over to your partner’s tent and say, “Hey…Jake? Jake are you still alive?”
He will make fun of you for this in the morning, but he will also be super appreciative.
Tomorrow? You do it all again.
You meet new people, see new sites, climb new, more painful mountains.
You are a thru-hiker. You are a beast. You are a machine. You are alive. THIS is the life.