Finding time to sit and write has been a challenge. This past week was filled with high mileage days broken up by town visits to gorge on calories. Because you know, “Treat Yourself!”
After my first week hiking through the 100 Mile Wilderness, I stepped on to the scale at Shaw’s Hiker Hostel in Monson and was shocked to see I had lost 12 pounds. That night I ate anything I could get my hands on to help replenish my body. Many how-to guides I read before this trip warned of men in particular losing large amounts of body weight when doing long distance thru hiking like the AT.
Until now my experience on trail is best described as a passionate day hiker. I was used to only having a protein shake and coffee in the morning during a drive to the trailhead, snacking lightly at the summit, and then stopping at the closest Mickey D’s on the return trip home as a reward for the days effort. But this routine hasn’t served me well on the trail.
Like the cars we drive, each day I have to remember that I am a machine of sorts and require water to keep from overheating and also need fuel in the tank to reach the next destination. Lacking a dashboard filled with gauges and warning lights, I’m slowly becoming attuned to the signs of dehydration and the feeling of “zonk”. There were a few times after a long hot day to reach camp when, leaning over to setup my tent, I almost passed out due to low blood sugar and lack of water.
Establishing a new cycle of water and snack breaks has helped to increase my daily mileage and prevented nights rolling into camp completely wiped. With this new regimen, I hiked the roughly 110 miles from Monson to Rangeley in six days, spending two nights in hostels to reload on calories.
Caloric deficits and a supercharged metabolism are no match for mere pub food…trust me. My new “hiker hunger” was put to the test in Caratunk at the Kennebec River Pub where I ate a salad, an order of fried pickles, and a 2lb double bacon cheeseburger, and then had room for Ben and Jerry’s later at the inn. I slept like a baby that night.
With the New Hampshire border fast approaching, I am eager to enter the Granite State and bid farewell to my homeland of Maine. New skills in hand and a growing appetite for more, I keep on my course heading south to Georgia.