I am currently in Salisbury, CT enjoying a bit of civilization. According to the plaque near the door, this is the first public library in the United States.
I am here to charge my devices and upload video on their extremely fast WiFi. They’re kind enough to provide comfy chairs and inexpensive coffee as well.
Early this morning I noticed an infection forming in the big toe of my left foot. This is just another typical obstacle in a thru-hiker’s life. Thankfully there is a grocery with medical supplies here, and many good options for a zero day coming up.
Recently I was asked how this hike differs from my last hike, and the main hallmark is that I take better care of myself now. Self-care was something I begrudgingly attended to in 2016. I’d mash through miles, skip shower opportunities, and push myself into desperate, unplanned zero days.
Seeking to abate needless chaos this time, I’m listening to my body more intently than ever. While I’ve been accused of pink blazing in the past, the reason I prefer to hike with women is because, they are much better at taking care of themselves than men. When I hike with a group of dudes, I invariably push too far and too fast.
I remember hiking this section with Game Warden years ago, and telling her over breakfast that I was hiking a twenty mile day. I knew the heat index would be well over 110, but I planned to muscle my way through it anyway.
Four miles later, when she found me nearly passed out on the side of the trail, she casually mentioned a deli .2 off trail. I followed her there, drank many cold Gatorade’s and loitered behind the building. Soon twenty hikers had rolled in. Pinky and The Brain, Snorlax and Musicbox, Daddy, and many others.
We stayed till the evening and hiked on after the heat began to fade. My twenty mile day had become a six mile day. It had to, or else it would have been my last day on the trail.
The constant negotiation of ambition versus reality is the very essence of long distance hiking. Just ask Anish, who nearly killed herself twice on the PCT by refusing to carry two extra liters of water. It seems absurd to normal people, that at 2.2lbs per liter, water can be deemed unnecessary weight by hikers. Normal people don’t thru hike though, and all weight is subject to scrutiny.
“I’m on that no food, no water ultralight!” Proclaimed Clammy, just before waking into town.
You can bet that I do the same. There is nothing more satisfying than carrying exactly the right amount of food and water needed for a section. Though, truth be told, I always seem to have a day’s worth of oatmeal at the bottom of my food bag.
Keeping clean and healthy can be quite the challenge out here. I’ve long been a louffa fan, and recently I have become a daily baby-wipe bather. I carry soap, conditioner, and shampoo these days. Showers are few and far between, but when I get them, I take full advantage. It’s worth it to me to carry these items for seventy, to sometimes one hundred miles between uses. Hike your own hike!
My next town stop will likely be Great Barrington, MA. Upper Goose Pond is also coming up, a common place for hikers to zero. I’ll be sure to stop in, as I missed it last time. Until next time. Take the best care of yourselves on, and perhaps more importantly, off trail too!