I See The Light at the End of the Tunnel

19 thoughts on “I See The Light at the End of the Tunnel”

  1. WOW! The time is approaching. Thanks for the update. Beautiful picture of your dining area. Penny for the kitty’s thoughts.

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    1. Thank you for the compliment on the dining area. That is all Bud’s handiwork. He has worked hard, and done a really great job. All I do is assist with holding ladders or other things. I think Bud is correct as far as what kitty is thinking. She wants in…until she wants out…but if she wants in…she is going to look as pitiful as possible until we let her in. πŸ™‚

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  2. Kara – I loved reading your journal during your last trek, and look forward to reading it again this time. I am pulling for you.

    Please do not take this as a pointed question, as it is certainly not meant as one; I am interested to know, if you are willing to discuss, what do you believe needs to be done differently this time around to prevent “hitting the wall”, so to speak, as occurred last time?

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    1. Thank you for your comment. I didn’t know you were following last time. I really appreciate your support.

      I have actually thought about your question a lot, and I plan on doing many things differently this time around. My thoughts are based on what I *think* was going on with me last time.

      I think ‘the wall’ (even though most of you reading probably didn’t know it) occurred around Virginia. That’s about the time the honeymoon wears off and the drudgery sets in. That was also when all of the daily pain in my legs and feet set in. You just have to push on through that, putting one foot in front of the other, even though it’s not as exciting as it was in the beginning, and even though you are in pain. I think preparing yourself for the wall…knowing it will happen…is one of the best preventatives. I guess this wall would be mostly mental. A lot of people get blind-sided when it happens because it is no longer ‘fun’. To be forewarned is to be forearmed.

      I think what happened toward the end when I got off the trail (which is what I think you are talking about) was different from hitting a mental wall. I think a lot of what was going on was physical. I believe bad nutrition can effect you mentally and emotionally as well. It’s that ‘gut-brain’ connection that is in the news so much these days. I had lost a lot of weight by that time. The other thing that was wearing on my physically was the stress and fear. I believe that emotions can cause physiological changes in your body. There is a good book about it called “Deadly Emotions,” written by a doctor.

      The other thing is that I have some lesions on my brain. The Doc said it’s a very mild case of M.S., which he doesn’t expect to progress. The coating on the neurons are damaged. This causes a ‘bad connection’ between the brain, and what it is telling your body to do. It’s like a lamp that has a short in it. It will flicker a lot, and it’s not getting a good connection, and therefore you don’t have good quality lighting. The lamp doesn’t work efficiently.

      My Neurologist told me a story to help me understand what was happening with my brain. It was about Mohammad Ali (who had Parkinson’s Disease). He was supposed to carry the Olympic torch one year. He did an interview beforehand and he did great…hardly any manifestations of the disease at all. When it came time to carry the torch, and ALL THAT PRESSURE WAS ON HIM, he cratered. He could barely walk. Because of the stress, his brain was misfiring a lot, not making a good connection, and making his body work much less efficiently. My Neurologist told me that stress can affect me in the same way since I have damaged neurons that are compromised.

      Going over the White Mountains really took it out of me. They were the one main thing I was worried about before I ever started the trail. I feared them the whole 5 months before I ever got to them. It was the fear and the stress, the lack of nutrition, the breaking down of my body, which led to the wrecking of my emotions and my mental state. I was so incredibly tired. I had been pushing myself beyond my wall for months and I just couldn’t push anymore. I couldn’t make my body GO, even though my mind wanted it to. I had used up my last bit of fuel with that one last push. Maybe it was like sprinting at the end of a race, but I sprinted too early.

      I said all of that to say this–(and I was going to do another blog post talking about some of this)–I think a lot of the ‘fear of the unknown’ will be alleviated this time, as well as the stress that goes with it. I almost feel like I’m cheating this time because I know what to expect. I know what these places look like. That is really stress-relieving. I don’t have to worry about ‘the unknown’.

      I’m hoping to not be such an island unto myself this time, and hopefully find a hiking partner (or partners) this time. Going through things with a friend is a lot less stressful. I’m going to be more mindful of my nutrition. I’m taking protein powder this time. I’m trying to get my backpack lighter, and working my mail drops to try to carry fewer days food at a time.

      I’m going to try to CHILL OUT, man. Slow and steady wins the race. I’m going to try to pace myself better. Many days, I pushed myself when I should have stopped. Those big days really took a toll on me and wore me out. I’m going to try to live in the moment, rather than worrying about whether I’m going to make it to point B and racing to get there. I want to have FUN this time, rather than treating it as a race.

      I’m sorry this reply is so long. I hope it answers your question. I don’t know if I explained it well or not. If I had to put it in a nutshell, when I got off the trail, I felt like Mohammad Ali carrying the Olympic Torch. I want to make sure I keep my stress (physically, mentally and emotionally) as minimized as I can so that I can keep my tank filled, rather than running on fumes toward the end.

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      1. One other thing…I also felt a lot of stress as I started to see the days dwindle toward the close date of Katahdin. (Oct. 15, but bad weather will cause them to shut it down early.) I really worried I wasn’t going to make it to the Big K before the deadline. That, too, was a big stressor. I was barely making it. Each day, moving forward was a monumental challenge. I was so exhausted. I kept on thinking I needed zeroes to muster up just one more day out of my body, but the more zeroes I took, the more I worried that the clock was ticking down and the chance that I wasn’t going to make it was greater and greater. That stress and worry added to the whole shebang. To alleviate that stress, I’m leaving 2 weeks earlier this time around to give me more leeway should the same exhaustion thing happen again.

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      2. What a great plan! I am so glad you can analyze what has happened and what IS and strategize accordingly. Thank you for the detail in your reply. That helped me see another prism side of what thru-hikers experience. [I’m a backpacker and hope to thru-hike the AT.]

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    1. Lee Ann, you would LOVE ‘Bent N Dent’! We have another one called, “Merchandise Outlet” which I like, too. I don’t think the deals are as good as the other place. When you come to Harrison and Jasper to see the court houses, you’ll have to stop by the Bent N Dent, too. πŸ™‚

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  3. What fun – for lovers of efficiency & lists of to-do items to tick off πŸ™‚
    So enterprising. Bet it’s lots less intimidating this time around. I’m excited about your COFFEE. You were mucho brave to venture forth without first time. Way to go !

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    1. Mrs. B, you make me laugh. πŸ™‚ Well–I guess it’s ‘fun’ when I can see the end and actually check things off. The stress in getting to the check is unreal. Yes. It’s definitely less intimidating this time because I now what to expect. As I mentioned in the previous comment, I almost feel like I am cheating because I know what to expect. That gives me a leg up in my planning, for sure. That coffee was my favorite find. πŸ™‚

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  4. Mentally, do you think it is easier to prepare for your second hike or was it easier to prepare for your first hike.

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    1. It’s definitely easier mentally this time. There is so much to be said for knowing what is ahead. Reading about it is nothing like being on the trail and experiencing it. I can’t convey how much ‘fear and worry about the unknown’ prevailed out there for me. Prior to my first attempt, I had practically no backpacking experience. This time, I feel like an old pro. I know all my equipment works and how to use it well. I know how much my body can take. I know what it’s like when you hit the mid-way point and you wake up and realize, “Hey, this is not fun!”

      Also, I DON’T HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THE WHITE MOUNTAINS! Yippeeeee! I am SO looking forward to the going through the Whites this time! They were a little scary at the time, but that was because I was not only worried about what I was doing in the moment, but about how much scarier it could get ahead of me. Now I know. It’s doable. I can do it. Looking back, they were my favorite part of the trail! …and I had built them up and had so much fear in my mind before and during my whole entire hike last time! That is gone this time! I’m actually looking forward to that section. So that big monster in my mind is gone.

      Mentally, I just feel like I can do things ‘better’ this time. I’ve got a new attitude. I’m going into it differently this time. So in answer to your question, yes, yes, yes…so much easier…

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    1. Thank you, Amy! Yes, it’s only about 2 more weeks away! The time is ticking away so fast!

      Thank you for following. I know you’ve already got some hikes planned, but if you find yourself with some time off work and a hankering to get back on the trail, I’d love to see you out there and would welcome your company.

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  5. Thank you for showing me how to get on line to follow you on “The Trail”. I will be praying for you , and Bud, as I do every day. God be with you and Bud
    I love you,
    Dad

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