Sunday, March 25, 2012

Trail Lessons

This trip has been getting harder. I expected this be somewhat of an uncomfortable experience, but there are days that make hiking the trail seem impossible.

Now I'm not talking about bad weather. I can deal with getting wet IN my tent. I'm not talking about carrying everything on my back for 8 to 10 hours a day. That's just a part of learning what I need to carry to survive out here. I'm talking about the other hardships of being on the trail.

The hardships include the pain the body goes through, being away from loved ones, and the other unexpected annoyances that make this difficult.

When I'm in pain, there is nothing better than rubbing in Icy Hot to soothe the aches. But what do you do when you put Icy Hot on your body and you don't feel it? I can't believe the pain is that intense... it truly doesn't feel like it. But come on, I can't feel Icy Hot on my feet? I had to rub some on my upper-inner thigh just make sure it was working (yeah that's smart).

So the solution... Ibuprofren or Vitamin I as we call it on the trail. It keeps the pain to a minimum on some nights. Stretching is another helping technique. It's just too bad that I didn't bring my yoga mat. The real answer is that the pain will eventually go away... or at least require less than a hundred pain pills. With being on the trail comes the acceptance that being uncomfortable every day is just a part of the adventure...and having major pain is just a bad day.

Having a relationship and doing the trail is another issue. I want so badly to talk my girlfriend but there is never enough cell service in the mountains. I'm actually carrying two phones, my regular phone which has all my maps, guide books and photos from the trip and a pre-paid phone. The extra weight (3 ozs) is worth it. So far we've been able to talk everyday, even if only for a few minutes. Still I miss her... and we're working on that too. :)

Another thing that makes this tough is the terrain. When I'm hiking for 5 hours I would expect to be putting some serious miles behind me. Well that's just not true. On a couple occasions we had a goal set and didn't meet it because it took FOREVER to get where we wanted to go. We've had some long 6 mike sections. Ever seen me roll my eyes? I do it every time I see stairs on the trail...and there are a lot of stairs.

I've fallen twice now, slipped over a dozen times and tripped hundreds of times over sticks and tree roots...
Banged my knees and ankles...
and hit my head on tree.

And on top of all that I found out that my nose sweats.  No, not the outside.  I'm tried of constantly blowing my nose.  I don't have a cold; it just sweats... kind of like when I eat something really spicy and it clears my sinuses.

The good news is that I found the perfect cure for any of this. HOT CHOCOLATE!

Everyday is tough, but everyday there's a reward... whether it's a mountain top view, a cool breeze on hot day, or something different that I've never seen.  But on tougher days there's always hot chocolate.

Fontana Lake from the south

Fontana Dam from the south end

Bill and I crossing the dam into the Great Smoky Mountains NP

My view from Clingmans Dome in the Smoky Mountains


  1. We miss you Tony!!!! Sounds like a tough time but you can do it!!! You've got a lot of people who love you and are wishing you less pain and a safe trip!!! (well, at least I am, and I assume I can speak for Mary, Vinnie and Katie too!) HUGS!! And let us know if you need anything sent to you!!!

  2. That is awesome. You know all the times Kim and I have been to the Smokey Mountains we have never been to Clingman's Dome. It is close in Jan/Feb. We stopped at the observation post at Newfound Gap and almost froze to death going to the bathroom. Glad you waited until March to get there.