Someone asked me if I’ve ever considered quitting. The short answer is a resounding, “No.” The question did prompt a reflection on how I classify my days.
They say never quit on a bad day ’cause the next day’s always better and you’ll most likely get over it. Well, I’ve had good days, hard days, but fortunately no bad days though I’ve been close twice.
Almost every day has been a good day. That means everything has mostly been routine. I got up, got where I was going, and got fed, all with minimal discomfort.
There have been a few hard days. I had three of them in a row after returning to the trail in early March. I was trucking my full 0F, 38 lb. winter kit, enough out of shape to notice, and a total slug from a mental perspective. Moreover, the climbing was bigger and harder than I anticipated, not to mention that my cake got frosted with snow on the second day. Woe was me!
I sucked it up and got over it as I ate the weight out of my food bag and my body and mind readjusted to hiking.
Even the nasty early November storm in the Smokies was just hard. A little frost nip is nothing and the adjustments I had to make weren’t that big of a deal.
Twice I was soaked through to the skin and everything in my pack was wet enough to have been in a Dunkin Donut contest. I had nothing dry to change into though my bedding was dry as a teenage guy’s mouth when he’s trying to talk to a pretty girl. In each case I’d made a costly mistake, but had the fortune to be walking into planned town stops each time. Warm and dry Erwin, Tennessee and Damascus, Virgina never looked so good.
It’s 34F and raining in this photo – that’s cold – and I’m soaked inside and out.
Had the towns not been there, we might be telling a different story. As they say, sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
What’s a bad day? How about when you break a bone, fall and knock yourself silly, or run out of food? Bears, racoons, skunks, mice, porcupines, pit vipers, rocks, widow makers, lightning and a whole lot more have propensity to turn the odds in their favor.
In the interim the best advice I have is this: Don’t dwell on it. Just hike.