Sunday, August 3, 2014

Day 115- What If Today Is As Good As It Gets?

The sound of tent poles in the morning is just so irritating especially when they are weekenders and don't know what they are doing. I felt like they dissembled their tent for hours. The walk next to the river I must say has been nice, it is flat and the sound of water is always soothing. The Housatonic is such a muddy brown color, and very fast moving. The trail followed the river for quite some time, then went into a field; and joined back at the river. Sometimes I wonder if the Appalachian Trail just wants to throw you for a loop. "Hey we could just follow the river the whole time, but we want to be different so we will make you take a wide swing in a field and then join back with the river." There was a warning left on a tree that the stones were no longer reliable for crossing and it was recommended to take the bypass trail, so we did. We walked down the main road, turned left on a gravel road; and walked right back up in the direction we came down. Shitty bypass, but better than getting wet! There were a few houses on the gravel road and then we joined back into the woods. There were some small woods waterfalls, and a nice rock section similar to the lemon squeezer where you basically walked through a crack in a boulder. A very tight squeeze.  Since getting into Connecticut, the terrain has partially flatted out; but on the other hand, it has noticeably increased and decreased. It takes a lot longer to climb up and down mountains, than it does to scramble boulders I have found. Tonight we were scheduled to stay at another campsite and the elevation showed it would be all downhill. While hiking however there were a lot of uphills and this confused me. I got to a view that was not listed in the book and saw a track of some sort, subconsciously I wondered if Limerock was out this way and if it was the track-turns out, it was. There is a photo below that shows the track off in the distance, had I known then it was Limerock I would have zoomed in. By this point my body and emotions were suffering dramatically. The day was filled with the same woods walk, nothing exciting. Up one hill, down another, a flat walk and another tree. I understand why people get bored with the woods while attempting to thru-hike. It is one thing to spend the weekend at the same campsite and thoroughly enjoy it, its another to walk through different woods, but still look the same. My knees have not been holding up as well as the past couple weeks and they were tiring. My feet per usual just hated me for what I am doing, and my mind was wondering if I can really see this through. It's amazing how my ipod is filled with songs that relate to my journey and that wasn't even intentional. For instance a song I really like that gets my spirits up and I relate to is "No Boundaries" by Kris Allen. The whole song is great, but a verse (well a few) that sticks out most for me is: 

"Just when you think the road is going nowhere
Just when you almost gave up on your dreams
They take you by the hand and show you that you can
There are no boundaries!
There are no boundaries!

I fought to the limit to stand on the edge
What if today is as good as it gets?
Don't know where the future's headed
But nothing's gonna bring me down

I've jumped every bridge and I've run every line
I've risked being saved but I always knew why
I always knew why!

So here I am still holding on

With every step you climb another mountain
Every breath it's harder to believe
You make it through the pain, weather the hurricanes
To get to that one thing."

I don't want to make a generalization for those who choose to hike the Appalachian Trail to start a controversy, but I will state from my experience. People at home have made the assumption that I am running away from something, or am not happy with my life. That is probably the farthest thing from the truth. I love my life. I really do, and coming home last weekend was tough leaving a life I love. I went to wineries, ate great food with a family that cares about me, saw a great friend, went to the lake, and just drove my car. After being out on the trail, I have thought a lot about what I will do when my journey is over (not saying I know exactly what I will do, but I have a better idea of what is important.) This makes me excited to as we say on the trail "get living our real life." So why stay out on the trail for close to another two months if I know what I want to do and am excited about it? The life that I love will still be here when I get back; but the trail, the people, and the experiences won't. I came out on the trail looking for adventure, stories, life experiences, and a bunch of firsts. And I've gotten them. I have learned so much about hiking, camping, myself, other people, hitchhiking, towns, and values but I want more. If I wanted to take the easy way out I would come home to the life that I love, but the stubborn in me wants to see this through. I must say I have a couple great friends that love and support me. I rather have 5 great friends, than 50 acquaintances and that is basically what I've got. I had some real doubts in my mind about even making it out of Massachusetts and told my thoughts to Shane and Blake. Their responses were both in one way or another, "so proud of you, what you are doing is amazing and you need to finish. The Ashlee I know doesn't ever give up." To have friends and family that morally support me is just amazing. I am really grateful for them. Before when I was feeling down when I was alone, I thought it was because I wasn't with my hiking family and Lynn was behind, now I know it is much more than that. I am hiking with Lynn, and still crying. Hiking the Appalachian Trail is more mental than it is physical. I got into camp and saw that not much was flat, Lynn was sitting on a site where Teabag had already set up at but there wasn't room for two more tents. I was getting eaten alive and just wanted to be inside my tent. I went up the hill a little to a site for one and set up there. I could see Lynn's eyes looked similar to mine, I wasn't the only one having a bad day. After getting settled, getting my friends to support me and tell me tomorrow will be better, and making dinner; Lynn came and sat in my tent for a little with me. No specific words were exchanged about what was going on between us, but there was a mutual sympathy. The weather was just as depressing, thunderstorms all week-I hope the rain holds out!

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