I’ve been thinking it’s the middle of the night for about an hour now, but it’s five AM. I haven’t been sleeping well. There’s a lot to think about, and I can’t stop thinking about it. We’re going on a practice hike today too, so I was hoping for some rest. I guess hiking on a crappy night’s sleep is something I should get used to.
It turns out dehydrating five month’s worth of dinners ahead of time is not simple. Eric’s done the math (over and over), but for the first time in this planning process we don’t have much help from the almighty internet. Not many choose to pre-dehydrate this much, it seems. But necessity is the mother of slaving away in the kitchen. The menu looks like this: tuna, chicken, chili, eggs, fruit and fruit leather, miscellaneous vegetables, and root mashes (sweet potato, carrot, pumpkin). Noticeably absent: typical hiker fare. No ramen, no potatoes, no rice. We’re going against the grain, literally. Because I can’t eat it. I’ve gotten a lot better, but I never got to the point where I felt confident my stomach wouldn’t be the thing that ended my hike. And maybe it would have been possible to make it to Maine with my bag cinched tight around an endless stomach ache and the rest of my body’s mechanisms working at half efficiency. But I’d rather not. And so, chopping peeling blending dehydrating madness. Sincerest appreciation to Eric, who has taken the complicated and scary idea of pre-cooking 300 meals and turned it into a plan I can help with.
I’ve lost my routine, too, and feel that. My little dinacharya practice is misplaced, I haven’t been meditating, I’ve been needing a new journal since we got here. So maybe it’s because it’s 5:30 in the morning and I’ve been lying awake for two hours, but I’m feeling like I desperately need to digest everything that’s happened so far before more comes. I need to sit, I need to write. Plenty of people upend their worlds to hike the AT, but I think many know what they’re returning to at the end. When we finish, I don’t know where we’re going. Or what we’ll do. We’re not going back to the same life we had before, that’s all I know. It feels ridiculous to worry about what will happen after Maine when we haven’t set foot in Georgia yet. But everyone keeps asking. So my brain keeps churning, as though if I just think about it hard enough the cloudy veil of the future will lift for me and I’ll know.
Which is not to say I don’t love being home. I love being home. Some things that were hard in Oregon are a little easier because I’m here.
And I get moments of excitement too. They are still very small and tinged with disbelief. Two weeks. I’m reading thru-hiker blogs again, just like this time last year. Except this time I’m going too. I’ll be walking in their footsteps. In two weeks. I can’t believe it.