two weeks out // thoughts

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.

9 thoughts on “two weeks out // thoughts

  1. You’ve probably already found these resources, but just in case…
    Those sites have great info on dehydrating and recipes.

    I make the majority of my own meals and highly recommend doing lots of testing at home if you can. Some things just don’t work and you don’t want to find that out on trail. One thing I’d suggest you look into is drying some shrimp if you can find them at a reasonable price where you live. Dries well and can be eaten as jerky but really rehydrates well adding lots of flavor to meals.

    1. We have checked those resources out, and they helped, but we wish we hadn’t spent the money on backpackinhchef’s ebook. Our issue is my weird diet (no grains or starchy things like potatoes), which very few people attempt on trail or real life. We did get lots of shrimp though, which is exciting. Didn’t realize you could eat it dry…I’ll have to try that.

      1. Your diet restrictions are why I didn’t offer any of my own recipes as my meals are all carb loaded with rice or pasta. Drying refried beans is another carb option if your body can tolerate them. The commercial canned products have a lot of sodium in them, but otherwise a good source of carbs, fat and a bit of protein. I’ve also dried pureed squash if that is an option for you.

  2. One of the scariest things is picking your life up and moving somewhere. You’re not only picking up and going, you’re going to try and do something that chews out most of its attempters. Toss in the fact you don’t know what’s happening afterwards and youve got lots of scary things before you even start. Its tough.

    Ready for the secret?

    None of it will matter once you start hiking. All that worry will disappear. Because all you’ll be focusing on is the next town, the next Snickers bar, the next mountain. Let the end worry about itself.

    Is your hike a little more complicated? Sure. But I’ve seen plenty of gluten free people do this – most never had a mail drop. You’ll be okay with food. You’ll finish dehydrating, and you’ll look back in two months and go “man weren’t we glad we did that?”

    The two of you will get it together. And then you’ll look back in 3 months and go ” man that was the hard/easy part”. It depends on what kind of day it is.

    Keep your chin up. Both of you.

    1. I am very much looking forward to the all consuming present moment that is hiking (for me, at least). I always think I’m going to mull over big problems while I’m walking, and instead it’s usually just pleasant silence in my head. In “real life” I’m always chasing that silence.

      As for food, I’m a little more than gluten free (no grains at all, gluten or otherwise, and no potatoes or beans) but watching all this delicious, nourishing food I’d happily eat in normal life pile up in the freezer is reassuring. I’ve also heard intense exercise can improve a body’s ability to deal with carbs (that’s my issue), and uh, a thru-hike counts as intense exercise in my book 🙂

      Thanks for your encouragement.

    1. We use the Excalibur 9-tray. When we got it we couldn’t decide if the 9-tray would be too big (this was pre-thru hike plans), but I’m so SO glad we got the bigger size now. I’d previously owned another brand, I think it was Nesco, and I didn’t like it as much. The round shaped ones can’t fit as much food inside, and the paraflex sheets that come with the Excalibur make cleaning up a lot easier than trying to scrape fruit leather off of the plastic sheets that came with the other one. The Excalibur is bulky, but we’re loving it. We’ve been abusing it too…it’s pretty much been running constantly for two solid weeks now! And still going strong.

      1. Thanks, I think that just sealed the deal. I had my eye on the Excalibur 5-tray. I’m hoping it’s enough for family weekends and a solo thru. Even if it isn’t, I’m taking the next year off of work so I’ve got nothing but time. Wishing y’all the best of luck!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s