Time at home

Zero Days

I’m hopping back on an airplane tomorrow to get back to the trail. It’s been an absolutely incredible week of friends, family, music, food, and doing things like sleeping in a bed, doing laundry, wearing cotton and cooking things that aren’t dehydrated. In fact, at this very moment, I’m eating chips and salsa and drinking iced lemon verbena tea!

I also got to surprise Spencer while he was eating a salad at our kitchen table, celebrate Sophie’s 26th birthday, see great friends that I don’t get to see often, spend a weekend with my parents, hang out with some friends from Nova Scotia, perform at two music festivals, ride my bicycle, go swimming at a hotel, read books in a coffee shop and eat 1/2 price sushi.

But I’m also excited to get back to the trail: to slow down and take everything in at 3 mph. I’m excited for the joy that comes from an unexpected bag of chips or Dr. Pepper. I’m excited to have the space and time to go from loving to hating to loving the trail within a 30-minute time span just because I have nothing else to think about. I think that I may have developed Stockholm Syndrome for the trail.

This time, as I leave home, I know (sort of) what I’m getting myself into. I know that every day is going to be harder than I expect it to be, and I know how much I’m going to miss home. I know how much the trail takes. But I also know how much the trail gives. So far, it’s taught me so much about self-reliance and about the importance of letting others help. It’s taught me that I’m stronger than I think I am. It’s taught me that waterproof is a lie. It’s taught me that plans are important but that flexibility is more important. It’s taught me what 5 days of food weighs. It’s taught me that the simplest things really are the best. It’s taught me that I really can walk anywhere.

   Sophie’s birthday!

  Spencer and I 

 Playing Boulevardia

  The whole band


Day 15: Another Zero

Zero Days

I woke up this morning with a still-sore knee so I decided to stay at this B&B another day. It’s really frustrating to not be able to hike, but I know I need to take care of my body.

Roub called me this afternoon and suggested that I yellow blaze to catch up with the group about 35 miles up the trail. Yellow blazing, named after the yellow lines in the middle of the road, means taking a shuttle or hitching a ride. After thinking it over, though, I decided that I would just start walking from where I left off yesterday. And I also decided that I’m going to try to fight the urge to do big miles despite what others are doing. I need time to strengthen my body so it doesn’t break down on me. So I’ll be doing a lot of 12, 13, 14 and 15-mile days for the next few weeks. 

I’ve just been laying in bed most of the day, only getting up to eat weight out of my pack. I’ve also cut about a pound more out of my base weight (not including food and water), so I hope that helps with my knee trouble as well. 

If you’re a prayer-er, keep praying for me. Pray for a healthy body and for mental/emotional stability. It sometimes feels like this is the first AND the last thing I want to be doing. Also pray for fewer rocks because they suck.

That’s it! Goodnight! 

This B&B cat won’t stop trying to snuggle with me. He’s looking really scary and fierce in this picture.

Day 11: Zero Day

Zero Days

Today has been marvelous. First, I woke up to a make-your-own-pancake buffet and coffee at the hostel. After the coffee, I laid my rain gear and shoes out on the deck to dry because the sun finally came out! It will be nice not having wet shoes to walk in tomorrow.

Every Saturday, a shuttle takes guests wherever they need to go. Yesterday when I went to the Appalachian Trail Conservancy (ATC) to get my picture taken, I also asked if a package had arrived for me. I had sent one to myself to pick up in Harper’s Ferry before I left Lawrence. Unfortunately, the package showed back up at my house in Lawrence a couple days later so Spencer had to take it back to the post office to send it again. I had put camp stove fuel in the package, and the post office wasn’t sure how to handle it. However, thanks to Spencer, it got send the correct way the second time! In addition to camp stove fuel, the package contained a lot of toiletry items and food resupply to get me through the next week of hiking. When I showed up to the ATC, though, there was no package for me. Because of the trouble we had already had the with package, I figured it was a lost cause. I was so disappointed and upset because my body hurt so much, everything I owned was wet, I smelled bad, I was hungry and I just wanted some food! All of it compounded to make this missing package feel like a punch in the gut. I even walked down to the post office yesterday to see if it was there, but no such luck. After I got some coffee and some cookies and washed my feet, though, I felt a lot better and decided that I would just go to Walmart to buy the food that I’d need.

So, today when the shuttle came, I told the driver that I needed to go to Walmart. Another hiker needed to go to the post office, so the driver took us there first because it closes early on Saturdays. On a whim, I decided to go in and ask about my package just to make sure it wasn’t there. I handed the post office worker my ID, and she went in the back to look for it. A moment later, I heard her yell, “Could it be under Ali instead of Alison?” and I said, “YES!!!!!!!” She came around the corner with my package, and I started jumping up and down and screaming. The hiker who had already gotten his package and walked out came back in and asked, “Is everything alright?” But when he saw my face and the package in my arms, he just started laughing. It is amazing how happy a box of ramen noodles and poptarts can make a person.

We got back to the hostel around 1, and I made some lunch and made a hiking plan for the next week. I think my resupply can get me by for about 6-7 days (it’s very heavy. stupid heavy). I’ll probably just take a nap and write in my journal this afternoon.

The hostel manager is making a Civil War feast tonight. She is even making a vegetarian option for me! The building that the hostel is in was built around the time of the Civil War and has a massive stone fireplace, so the manager likes to play up the Civil War-era theme. She is seriously an amazing woman…she made spaghetti and veggie pizza last night! Everyone needs to stay here. I wish I could stay here for another week, but I gotta hit the trail again tomorrow. Hope to make it about 18 miles. Keep praying for me! Your words of encouragement are really nice to hear; they keep me going!!