No matter how in shape you are when you start the trail you will be huffing and puffing at some point in the first week. Without fail someone will come by at your lowest moment and say, "You'll get your trail legs in a couple of weeks!"
Trail legs seemed like some magical happening when bearded elves come out at night and switch your puny civilian legs with bionic hiker legs. You can jump over massive roots in a single bound, climb 3k feet of elevation without taking a break, and never, ever get blisters! Oh, the pipe dream it seemed.
During the first week on the trail, we stayed the course and didn't push ourselves too hard. 11 miles the first day, 9 miles the second day, 10 miles the third day, and then things changed. The selection committee made the impossible possible. Kentucky vs. Indiana. Calipari vs. Creen. Wildcats vs. Hoosiers in the freaking NCAA Tournament! On the fourth day we pushed it to 14 miles and repeated that on day 5 to make sure we could see the game. That's enough talking about that game.
The weather was turning on us so we decided to break in Haiawassee. The motel we stopped at allowed pets so we took our first zero (0 mile day) in there in Haiawassee, GA. There wasn’t much to do in there, which wasn’t bad, so we sat around watching March Madness and eating as much as possible before hitting the trail again.
Our second week on the trail was a little more hectic. We made a deadline to be at Winding Stair Gap near Franklin, TN so we could meet a friend for a two-night stay in Asheville, NC. We had to cover 68 miles in four days. Having a deadline on the trail is no fun but the thought of brewery hopping sounded magnificent to us.
Back on the trail, we were feeling great after our second zero, but Mother Nature was not on our side. Rain had moved in and for the rest of the week it seemed we would have to deal with it at some point in the day. Usually we would take it easy and read in the tent or shelter, but we hadn't learned from our pervious mistakes. We made another deadline with a large group of friends to come visit in Gatlinburg. We have to cover 92 miles in six days. We both agree - NO more deadlines!
As we cross Fontana Dam, the tallest dam east of the Mississippi, into the Great Smokey Mountain National Park I see no bearded elves coming to strap bionic legs to mine so I guess I'll have to go it alone. I make less frequent stops, I go further distances and I am blister free (knock on wood) so maybe there is something to these Trail legs anyway.
I'm thru hiking the AT north bound to raise money for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. If you're interested in finding out more, and contributing to my cause, please visit my HikeFor account. Remember to follow my journey here at HighlandFrog.com and to "like" the HighlandFrog Facebook page to be notified about future articles and updates! Thanks for your support!
One step at a time
Geoffrey (aka Messiah, my new trail name)
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