Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trails & Tribulations

My best friend texted asking that we get together . . . immediately.  

We sat at our usual table in the back corner of our favorite cafe and she slid an article across the table to me.  The headline read:

The First Woman to Hike the Appalachian Trail Was 67 Years Old

It goes on to describe this grandmother of 23 who, in 1955, hiked the entire 2050 mile trail in 146 days.  

Crap. How long has it been since we were out backpacking?  We couldn’t even remember.  

Oh we've had our excuses.  She tore her ACL while skiing in Italy. Which was a lot sexier than me tearing a meniscus when slipping on some wet leaves in the driveway. But mostly our excuses have been lame.  Miscellaneous aches and pains.  Family issues. The desire for a soft warm bed over the hard packed ground.  We have aged.  It's not as easy as it used to be. But mostly we have gotten lazy. Yes, we still often hike our locals trails. For an hour or two. Followed by a nice meal in a restaurant where we complain about how sore we are.  


So feeling shamed by this article, we began planning our next trip into the wilderness.   At first we thought big.  A week long trek of 10 to 15 mile days, and challenging mountains like we used to do. But then reality set in.  Maybe we should take it slow at first and see how we do.  It’s getting cold at night so maybe we should only go out for a couple of days.   I love climbing the high, bald mountains so I can sleep under a full canopy of stars but, hmmm, will our knees hold up to that?  Will my back be screaming for mercy?

By the time we had talked ourselves down, we settled on one of my favorite places in the Adirondacks. The trail is only a little over 4 miles to a pristine, white sand beach surrounding a lovely lake. Since it is only a short distance it has become a very popular spot, often with groups carrying in alcohol and partying there.  Because of this I haven’t been there in decades.  But I am hopeful that by going after peak season, it will be quiet and secluded.  If not we have an option to continue along the trail for another couple of miles.  We will make camp and then do a couple of day hikes, without having to carry our packs.  

Over the years, packing has become somewhat of a science.  I have already wheedled down every ounce of extra weight.  My pack is 27 pounds for a 3 day, 2 night outing. But nighttime temps are going down into the low 30s so I will need some heavier clothes.  And then there’s all the extra Ibuprofen and BenGay I am going to need.  

I am beginning to feel a little anxious and a lot wimpy.  “Grandma Gatewood” completed her trek without a sleeping bag, tent or compass.  She was quoted as saying “ I would never have started this trip had I known how tough it was, but I couldn’t and I wouldn’t quit.” I have a tent, a high tech, whisper-lite cooking stove, space age dehydrated food, expensive hiking boots, and a sleeping bag rated for sub-zero temperatures.  It's not exactly "roughing it."

So I am about to strap that almost 30 pound pack on my also overweight body and hope for the best. The spiritual benefits of being out in nature far outweigh the physical side effects. (I hope) And if Gatewood could do 2050 miles in 146 days, I should be able to do 15 or so miles in 3 days.

If I don't post a Full of Grace story on Tuesday, come looking for me. I'll be the one moaning and groaning, limping down the mountainside with a thousand excuses about why I'm too old for this.


  1. All y'all nature girls hhave my admiration. Congratulations!! For I have no doubt you will conquer your trek.

    1. I went. I conquered. I am home . . . soaking.

  2. Oh have so much fun! And I'm super curious what trail leads to a beach...? The kids and I might consider it early next spring!

    1. Tirrell Pond. I will send you more info. Your kids would love it!

  3. Yay! You for you! I'm happy and excited for you! Yes, you'll be sore when you get back, but you'll be glad that you went. I'm sure of that.

    I saw that article about Grandma Gatewood. What an inspiration. Didn't she hike the Appalachian Trail more than once? And...hey! Didn't she hike part of the Pacific Crest Trail, too???

    I will confess,8, I'm a tiny bit jealous.

    1. I have an extra pack with your name on it : ) Anytime!

    2. Just ship the packs and yourself out here and we'll give it a go!

      (I wish!)

    3. This is a brilliant idea. just saying.

  4. You inspire!!! Wow!!! 30 pounds on your back. Double wow.

    I hope you two have a grand grand time. I have a feeling you surely will


  5. I found out that our library has 3 packs available: one is for hiking, one is for fishing, and one is for geocaching. (I admit, I so want to go geocaching!)

    And that whole description? Um, I don't care how light-weight your stove is, or how sub-zero your bag, it's still roughing it.

    I so want to do a mini hike with you and e. (Can't do a full one. But a mini would be fun!)