Little Steps: Day 100 – 34,064 Reasons to H.Y.O.H

Day 100 has finally arrived.

Way faster than I expected it too. Or wanted it to.

I find it amazing how much, and what, can change, in just 100 days.

In fact, what I envisioned day 100 would be like, is not the reality of what day 100 looks like.

And I am not sure I am mad about that discrepancy. Maybe a tad disappointed. But who I am today, is vastly different then who I was just 100 days ago.

I had a chance to reflect on these past 100 days over the weekend.

I had a chance to imagine what the next 100 days may look like.

I have done alot of soul searching. ALOT.

I have grown. A tick and I became fast enemies. I have fallen. I have laughed it off.

I have inspired not just myself, but so many others.

I have pushed myself past boundaries I didnt know existed. Boundaries I didnt know I had it in me to push pass.

I have made goals, changed goals, adapted goals.

I have persevered, even as I am crying in exhaustion.

I have conquered, even when giving up would have been easier. Even when I said, no more, I still somehow found more.

This past weekend, I went on an 18 mile planned backpacking trip with one of my besties.

I didn’t make it the 18. I barely made it 11.58.

I fought hard for each step of that first 5.57mi. And for a few hours, the next 6.01mi, was not going to happen.

I knew at about mile 2.5, there was no way I was getting my full 18 in. And me being persistent and stubborn, I was pretty upset with myself.

I failed my goal.

I clearly didnt train good enough. I failed to properly fuel my body. I am too slow. I packed too much. I cant do this.

Why am I torturing myself? Is it because I deserve this torture?

I failed. My brain told me I failed. I failed my friend. So it started coming up with solutions on how I can end the misery.

I can finish the misery today. Give up. Stay in camp. Wait till my bestie is done with her 18 miles, and then just get a ride to my car that is parked at the start. Or maybe I meet my friends husband this evening and I just quit tonight. Sleep in my own bed. Being consumed by failure.

My friend and I got to the spot where we could safely split up. I was walking too slow and holding her back. She went to go fetch her husband at one trailhead, and I crawled up to where we were camping for the night.

Her husband was waiting. There was no way in hell I would have made it without legit dying. I just got the inReach Mini. I didnt want to break it in just yet.

So we agreed I would go to camp, and take a much deserved nap.

I dont know how I made it. But I did. I ejected from my pack quicker than the speed of sound. I took my tent out. It was beautiful. So I decided against the rain fly.

I would wake up (hopefully) before dusk. Hopefully…

I attach the poles. And a gust of wind comes pummeling thru the mesh sides. If I didnt have a hand on my tent….byyyeeeee. Note to self: next time put something heavy on a corner first.

Up with the tent. In went my puppy Helios. Out came my sleeping bag. Screw the sleeping pad. And I am pretty sure I fell asleep before my head hit my pack.

It was the best nap I had ever had. Especially because it turns out that I was straight up sleeping on a layer of all sorts of rocks…..

I earned that rock layer. Turns out my 55lb pack was way too heavy. At our first TH, I ditched (well, hid very well so I could retrieve it if I lived thru the night) what turned out to be 8.8lbs worth of stuff I really didnt need.

My life motto may be “its better to have it and not need it, than need it and not have it”….but clearly backpacking is not one of those situations where I need to be prepared for a blizzard in a heat wave.

Or have 6 different methods of starting a fire.

Or 2 dog leashes…..

My friends finally made it to camp. I had taken the best nap of my entire life. We started talking about our plans for the next day.

I knew I was not going to make the full 16 required (18 planned). But it wasnt time for me to stop. I knew that I had more in me to leave on the trail.

How much more? I didnt know. I just knew that I was ready to keep going.

Wait what? I just almost died.

My brain told me I held my bestie behind so I needed to be forever apologetic.

But that wasnt how she viewed the situation. At least that is not how she made me feel.

No. She reminded me that she was proud of me. That I am pushing myself and busting thru limits I have never reached before. She reminded me that she is my friend. That will be by my side. Even when I feel like a burden.

She was my personal cheerleader. When I wanted to pass out, she helped me dig deeper.

Sometimes, she told me, you have to be thankful for the life you have, the friends around you. She said a bunch of other paragraphs full of wisdom, but it slid in one ear, and sweated out the other.

But I heard her loud and clear. She wasnt waiting for me out of obligation. She was waiting with me out of friendship. And it’s something to be grateful for, to not take for granted, to not apologize for.

So, I felt refreshed as I could be. What I have done so far, is something to definitely be proud of. I may not do all the miles. But it’s more than what I could have done 100 days ago.

Day 2 is a brand new day. We already veered off course. People at home tracking me via the inReach Mini and my very detailed trip itinerary….may start freaking out. But…that itinerary was useless about 2hrs in.

I kept bugging my friends with different scenarios.

Is there anyway I can get in 11.5 miles? Only if hell froze over as pigs morphed into unicorns.

And then it hit me.

I wake up at 4am on weekdays and it’s a miracle if I get any meaningful sleep past 6am on the weekends.

As we are all eating dinner and relieving the dream that was day 1, I tell them….I am going to wake up around 430, and leave camp by 5am and do as many miles as I possibly can.

Whether that be 2.5 and meet at a specific trailhead. OR 6 to meet at the car, or maybe keep going and do the remaining 11.5.

Dinner was over. I was ready for bed. But first I needed to do what I do best and get everything organized and ready for tomorrow.

My plan was to wake up, eat some oatmeal, pack up, and move. In reality, I woke up, fueled myself with nutritious snacks, packed up, and headed out.

I left camp at 507am. I had turned on my headlamp. But barely needed it.

The first .75 miles was a doozie. Maybe I just needed to call it.

No. I am not ready. My soul isnt ready. I need to at least make it to the next TH where we all agreed I would stay at if I needed to.

I put one foot in front of the other.

I kept moving.

My pack was not as heavy. My brain was focusing. My feet were moving. My soul on fire.

And then, as if a light switch was flipped, it all clicked.

I started remembering why I hike. Why I choose to traverse the woods alone.

Dont get me wrong. I absolutely loved being out in the wild with one of my besties. It was truly a magical experience.

So what went wrong? Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

And in the end, this hike, for me at least, worked out exactly how it needed to. And in the very way I didnt know I needed it to.

I fell in love with hiking because it takes me away from the noise, the chaos. It is just me and my inner voice.

But sometimes I need to even escape from my inner voice. So I developed a system awhile back when I started hiking trails with hills I wanted to jump off of.

I silently count. At first, it was to 50. Once I made it to 50, I could reevaluate to see if I needed to take a breather, or maybe I could keep going.

Once I hit 50, I would restart at 0.

And then I started counting to 75. And now I can count to 100 before evaluating what my next move will be.

I mainly count when I am going Uphills. Or just exhausted. The more intense the hill, maybe I count to 50, or 30, before reevaluating.

Counting is methodical. And soothing.

If I can get my inner voice preoccupied on counting, my inner voice stops being so negative and mentally draining.

Day 1, I didnt count. I wanted to chit chat. I was with my bestie. We have this weird relationship where we talk to eachother and actually get along. But I didnt keep my inner voice preoccupied even though my social voice was.

Of course the 500lb pack also didnt help. But the fact that I failed to recognize how important my own mental game plans are to me, was a game changer.

So on Day 2, I counted. Over and over and over. But not just that. I realized that on Day 1, I wasnt stopping long enough or enough times to actually recharge any of my energy.

Also on Day 2, I noticed that I pushed my heart rate on Day 1 to an unhealthy place for me, and I never gave it opportunities to back up off the edge.

I hate stopping for long periods of time. But I recognized what my body was trying to tell me the day before.

I was determined to make it as far as possible. And the only way that was going to happen, was if I finally listened to my body and gave it what it needed.

So my game plan adapted. If I needed a heartbeat break to bring that beat back down, I would take 30 breaths. If it wasn’t down in a safe zone, then I would take another 30 breaths if needbe.

Day 1, I learned that I am not a backpacker that likes to eat a big breakfast, lunch, dinner and a few small snacks. My body much prefers more snacks with higher nutritional value that are easy to eat as I walk.

Who knew?

So, every odd mile (1, 3, 5, etc) I would stop for about 5 mins to sit, or lean on something or just eat.

And then every even mile (2,4,6, etc), I would take a longer break, maybe 10 minutes, where I would sit and take off my pack, stretch my legs, roll my shoulders, and have a more dense and filling snack.

And guess what? It worked! My new adapted game plans, where a game changer.

I was exhausted by the time I made it to the truck. I got super comfy and took a nice long nap with my pup at my feet as lookout.

But when I woke up, if I had had about 5 more hours, I totally could have conquered 16 miles.

Am I bummed? A little

Am I failure? No.

Am I proud of myself? Heck yes!!!!!!

Am I ready for my next backpacking adventure? Have you met me?! Of course I am! I just added it to my calendar for the end of July with my husband and his bestie!!!!

I learned alot this weekend. Every single step I took, provided me with a new lesson, a new reason why it is so very important to Hike Your Own Hike (H.Y.O.H). I learned more about myself this weekend, than I could have ever dreamed about.

Here are some of the biggies:

  1. Pack less crap
  2. Pack less crap
  3. Pack less crap
  4. I need more breaks at less intervals
  5. I am not a 3 meal/2 snack kind of backpacker. I am definitely an all day grazer
  6. More tuna, less peanut butter, and raw nuts that are the base ingredients of peanut butter. Oh and the right brand of Turkey jerky.
  7. Your pace is your pace.
  8. Dig deep until you cant, and then crawl a little bit further
  9. Your mental game plan is your mental game plan.
  10. Be flexible and adapt.
  11. Always look for alternatives. Because where there is a will, there is a way.
  12. Squatting to pee when you can barely move, is a hazardous side effect. Especially when a random burst of side wind appears at just the right time.
  13. My inner voice is a drain
  14. A highly detailed itinerary is probably overkill and may stress your home base out more than necessary. Especially when you dont realize until mile 4/hr4 that you scheduled mile 7-8.5ish later that day to only take 30 mins……
  15. I need to invest in lightweight gear when I can
  16. I felt alot more at ease with the inReach Mini
  17. I need to get a better filtration system
  18. I definitely do not need a huge, heavy, clunky, hydroflask…too many unneeded ounces..and now I see everything in necessary and unnecessary ounces
  19. My puppy Helios is my soul pup
  20. Do what works
  21. Be thankful and appreciative for what and who surrounds you.
  22. The trail provides
  23. Your spirit guides know what you need, you just need to listen
  24. The pain will be intense for a few days afterwards, and your husbands truck may be too tall for 27.8hrs
  25. But the euphoric high you experience when you finally realize what you actually did, regardless of how far or much you had to stray from the original plan… is priceless.

Today is Day 100 on my Little Steps 2 the Summit journey.

I have learned how to start relying on myself, how to stop taking my strength for granted, and how to be proud of what I can/do/have accomplished.

But most importantly, I have learned that who I was yesterday is not who I am today. And the person I am today, is not who I will be on Day 200.

So hike your own hike. Because experiencing your own euphoric high is worth it.

Trust me.

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