Weird things you get used to while hiking

So much has happened since my last message that it would take too long to recap them. Instead, please enjoy these snippets of the track on things that initially felt weird and now feel perfectly natural.

Drink water from streams

Between towns, our only sources of water are springs, streams and lakes. We use a water filter to ensure it is safe to drink. There is nothing so fresh and cold as drinking water from a mountain stream or river.

Sleep neck and neck with strangers

Along the AT there are 3-sided wooden structures with sleeping platforms that can accommodate 6-12 people. When rain is forecast, shelters are coveted and often fill up quickly. Sleeping between brand new trail buddies, at least two of whom snore, is becoming commonplace.

poo in the woods

You don’t always camp at shelter sites, and not all shelter sites have toilets. You often end up taking care of bodily functions behind a tree (digging what’s called a “cat hole” first) being careful not to drop your drawers in plain sight of other hikers or campers.

Go to sleep at sunset

Sometimes the conversation around the campfire or picnic table continues after dark, but after 8 or more hours of hiking most of us climb into our sleeping bags shortly after dark. twilight – aka “midnight hiker”.

Recovery of objects in a “hiker’s box”

Hostels and other places that welcome backpackers have boxes, shelves or cupboards where people can throw unwanted items. We picked up oatmeal, trail mix, clothing, pita bread, coffee packets, powdered milk, ziplock bags, fuel cans and bagels, among other things. What one hiker rejects, another hiker covets.

always be hungry

You are in a constant state of calorie deficit after hours of hiking in the mountains, day after day. Constant hunger becomes the norm, as does eating big meals every time you’re in town.

Some things you never get used to

See a breathtaking 360 degree view from one of Tennessee’s bald spots.

The thrill of crossing a state line or reaching a milestone mile.

Instantly befriend another hiker, be sad when they’re not seen again, then greet them like a long-lost relative when they reappear on your path.

Crisscross a hill and see mountains and valleys in the distance.

Share a story that only another hiker will understand.

Crying because the hike is so hard, but getting up every morning, lacing up your boots and going another 12 miles. Because you’re a hiker and that’s what we do.

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