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[at-l] Conversation with Datto / Choices
A couple weeks ago when I had finished my Long Trail section and was
hanging out at the Inn at the Long Trail I had the opportunity to talk to
many thruhikers that were there. The topic of quitting the Trail came up
and one particular hiker said yeah, recently she'd been through a bout of
"I'm ready for this to be over". She said she had, in fact, considered
quitting on a recent day and spent the day in town. The next day her
attitude had greatly improved and she was ready to hit the Trail again.
I do remember feeling through parts of NH and most of Maine 'God, I'm SO
ready for this hike to be over'. (It was interspersed with fantastic
moments of joy and pleasure and wonder). I think it's because of physical
fatigue, and the fact that I kept losing weight until my body had
absolutely no fat on it. Then I had no reserves. In Maine I had to eat
every 2 hours in order to be able to continue to hike. If I didn't stop to
eat I slowed down incredibly and tripped a lot. And even though I felt
like that, I never considered quitting. I had hiked this far, there was no
way I was going to be denied Katahdin.
I got to talking about this with Datto. I told him I couldn't believe that
people got this far and then quit. He said lots of people had quit in
Vermont and New Hampshire and he couldn't believe it either... he felt like
I did... if I've made it this far there's NO WAY I'm not finishing. But
the fact remains that there are Northbounders out there in VT, NH and ME
that just decide they've had enough. We talked about the reasons that
people cited for leaving the Trail. Most of them were just tired, and had
had enough. Some were hurting, but not really worse than at other times.
They wanted a bed and meals and not to have to hike every day anymore.
Datto said there's one thing that everyone gets to know clearly on the
Trail... that everything you do in life is a choice. You make some good
ones and some bad ones, but you ALWAYS have a choice. That becomes
extremely clear when you're out there and there are really so few choices
to make... what's for dinner, how far to hike, stay or go, nap or no nap :
-) Okay he didn't say that but it's his choice. And although this seems
like it's extremely obvious... it struck a chord in me that it's something
I think we sometimes forget. I thought it was very insightful of him, so I
thought I'd share. If you hike the AT it's because you choose to. And
whether you finish it or not, again its because you make that choice...
unless nature makes the choice for you.
Thruhikers at this point in their hike are a strange and wonderful bunch to
be around... They've forgotten what 'real' life is like and live so very
much in the moment and the day. Small things make them happy or sad. It's
like they're all small children again and simply pleasures are the best. I
know I'm explaining this badly, but it was wonderful to have that brought
back to me so vividly when I was among them.
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