** Note: This post was inspired by WordPress’s The Daily Post: Weekly Photo Challenge. This week’s theme is “Big.” **
This is how big my anxiety was earlier today (i.e. as big as the helmet from an over-sized suit of armor). OK, this is really an old prison cupola that’s been set up by the waterfront in Richmond, VA, but it looks like a helmet. Last weekend, my baby sister, our mom, and I were enjoying the Richmond Folk Festival with 200,000 of our closest friends and happened to stumble upon it.
And, in case my distractions already caused you to forget, this is how big my anxiety was earlier today.
I was perusing posts on the Facebook page devoted to 2013 A.T. thru-hikers, and I came across a thread about people’s preparations. Among the other details I seem to have overlooked, one entry referred to mileage spreadsheets. I honed in on it because I hadn’t thought of anything so elaborate.
I may seem pretty proactive about getting ready for this trek (lots of research, buying my gear, hiking, etc.), but really I’m kind of planning to get to the trail with four days worth of food and start walking. I figure I’ll plan one or two towns ahead, but looking toward the Smokies or Shenandoah, nonetheless Maine, had never crossed my mind.
I was immediately overwhelmed at the thought. Do I need to prepare to that level of detail? Am I doomed to fail?
Then, I had the presence of mind to remember Alisa. Alisa thru-hiked the A.T. in 1997. Now you can find her at atlashaditeasy.com, where she writes about life in Colorado and enjoying wild places with her husband and two young children. Luckily for me, Alisa found my site last week and offered to be a resource if I had any questions. I sense Alisa will enlighten me on many A.T.-related topics, but I decided to start with this basic question to assuage my most recent freak-out.
I asked Alisa, and she assured me that planning out mileage to that level is only necessary if you have a set deadline you must keep. So my suspicions were confirmed: people that trace out their mileage tend to be what I refer to as “engineers” or perhaps “auditers.” (Trust me; I work with a slew of them.) If you feel compelled to keep these meticulous tables that I’ve described but are not trained in either one of these fields, I suggest you spend some time reflecting…and then sign up for classes at your nearest college.
As for me, I guess I’ll stay calm and keep on keepin on. I may not be forecasting every footprint in front of me, but I still have plenty to do before I’ll be ready for Springer Mountain. And, I can barely believe it, but I have only five months left.