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One of the first things I did was check out how many hours a day I spent on my smart phone. My typical day went as follows: wake up and look at phone, go to the bathroom and look at phone, get ready for work and look at phone while waiting for the elevator, work and look at phone at lunch, look at phone while walking to my car from work, coming home and looking at my phone the rest of the night right up to when I went to bed. Geez when did I turn into such a technology dependent millennial? Seven years ago I did not even have a smart phone yet I had turned into a person who woke up and went to bed looking at my phone. My phone has the ability to record screen time and calculate how much time is dedicated to each app. I was averaging 3 hours and 45 minutes a day or more. Ewwww, whenever I was bored or frustrated, upset or just needing to pass the time, my phone was my go-to.
Back in November I had this crazy idea that I needed to adjust to the cold and be used to being cold so that my hiking experience would be more enjoyable. I hate being cold and instantly reach for a blanket or jacket when I feel a slight chill. I decided that I was going to bundle up every day and drive to work without heat. I have to laugh now because that lasted a total of 3 days before I called it quits. I also decided that I needed to get used to not showering every day, not shaving, and wearing repeat smelly sweaty clothes (my boyfriend really appreciated this idea of mine). Well, I have found that I can stand my greasy disgusting hair for 3 days before I need to jump in the shower but yes, I am back to showering everyday why? Because I am not sure that that matters now, plus, I have to go to work at my real job and actually look like a professional. For some people this might sound gross, but I love not shaving. I simply do not care. The only person to make fun of my furry legs and arm pits was my mother. She now refers to me as a wild woman. But it is winter now and no one other than me really knows this life change.
In this day and age of technology there are a ton of helpful resources for people preparing for a long-distance hiking trip like the Appalachian Trail or any other physical feat. I have really enjoyed watching Dixie from Homemade Wanderlust on YouTube. Whenever I become a little defeated, I bring up her earlier videos from the AT and feel inspired again. She is now a Triple Crowner (a thru-hiker who has accomplished the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail, and the Continental Divide Trail) and has a multitude of helpful how-to videos. I find her to be unbiased and honest, plus she is a badass woman.
I also recently picked up a small yellow book by Zach Davis, “Appalachian Trials: A Psychological and Emotional Guide to Successfully Thru-Hiking the Appalachian Trail.” It is a handy little book that is pretty popular among hikers. I would recommend for AT hopefuls to borrow one from a friend, find it on Amazon for new or used, or take it out at the library for a look. He speaks a philosophy that I agree with, so it is my latest homework to try to get mentally in-shape for the trail. He recommends for people to physically write down why they are hiking the AT, what they want to get out of it, and what they would do instead if they quit as a way to organize one’s thoughts and also to use as a motivator on tough days. My lists are long for each category, but I would like to share the highlights of my reasonings.
1. I always wanted to
2. I want to experience the Wild East
3. I will always regret this if I don’t even try
When I successfully hike the Appalachian Trail
1. I will have the confidence to enact the changes that need to happen in my life
2. I will have finally accomplished THE dream
3. I will have given myself the adventure of a lifetime with memories and friends for life
If I give up on the Appalachian Trail
1. I’ll be disappointed but mostly lost and have severe FOMO (fear of missing out)
2. I will have to look for a job sooner than expected
3. I will have lots of expensive gear that I might never use again