Halfway and Humbled

I’m sitting in the morning sun, enjoying a breakfast of fresh fruit (a rarity out here) and coffee on the balcony of the (in)famous Doyle Hotel in Duncannon. PA. It’s mile 1138.5, we’re 52.2% complete and I’m feelin’ fine. And why wouldn’t I? There were no drippy walls or mysterious smells, no mushrooms growing in the shower or old resident drunks who had died in bed but nobody noticed for a few days – all rumors I had heard about this joint along the way. The accommodations at the Doyle are bare bones and worn, but the place is full of fellow hikers, the staff is super supportive, it’s right on the trail and the price can’t be beat. Oh yeah, and the bar downstairs has Tröegs on tap – not too shabby.

I think what I’ve learned most over the last 1000+ miles, and continue to be reminded of, is to be grateful for the little things, to just take it as it comes and be happy with what is provided. I can’t change the trail. I can’t change the weather. I can’t smooth out the rocky parts. So why get frustrated?

It sounds like a simple way to be and I usually can attain that kind of nirvana, but this week I faced some realizations about speed and mileage that were/are tough to deal with.

One fact that is coming to light, is that hikers who started the trail in Georgia a full month after we did are catching up and blowing by us. We’ll likely never see them again as they are pulling 25-30 mile days consistently. Generally these guys are 8-10 years younger than me, but some are older. I don’t know how I feel about this. At first I was just telling myself that all these dudes are passing me because I stop and take so many photos or that they just hike longer hours in the day and that’s how they’re burning up the trail….really, it makes me realize that my 32 year old body has limitations.

But Long Time is 55 and now he’s going faster than me too! We’re still doing the same miles per day, still meeting up at the same place every night and sharing equipment, but bitter pill number 2 for the week is that my old man is now most definitely faster than me! No offense, dad, but what gives?!

The thing I’ve really been reminded of this week is kind of a mantra for all hikers on the trail and that is HYOH, “hike your own hike.” After 3 months of living outdoors I still don’t rise with the sun. I’m just too sleepy to pop up at 5:30 like Long Time and some other hikers can. I could try to go to bed earlier or set my watch to get up early, but I just don’t think it’s in my nature. Or I’m just lazy. Either way, it doesn’t matter. I’m generally satisfied with my daily mileage and I’m having a good time. I take breaks, I take time to talk to curious weekend hikers and I am getting some lovely photos. And I don’t mind walking alone for much of the day. It feels better to go about it at my pace than to try to go at Long Time’s, or to have him hike with me and feel like I’m holding him back.

The biggest lesson as of late is that though we’ve embarked on this adventure together and are sharing in so many awesome experiences, this hike is an individual journey. Just as life itself…

Thanks as always to our subscribers and commenters. I truly appreciate all the support and interest!

~Click! Mel

This entry was posted in Trail-time!. Bookmark the permalink.

30 Responses to Halfway and Humbled

  1. Joan says:

    So true. And it would make a great bumper sticker…”Hike your own hike!”

  2. What I have learned over my 67 plus years of life,also after becoming a Christian.
    Nobody is born to be an island, we all need at least one,better to have more people to share our lives with.
    Yes we all do need a little quite time by ourselves,but for the most part it is good to have love,and support from our network of friends,or a close companion,our both.

    I have also learned if anyone does not agree with the Christian lifestyle I live,well it is their problem not mine, because I am perfectly happy with myself.

    Now I said all of this to say Mel if you are feeling good,and are happy with the way you are doing your hike,don’t worry about what anyone else thinks.

    To simplify this idea,I always tell people that if you have any problem with me it is not my problem it is theirs!

    Keep the photos coming,and please above all be safe.

  3. A. Lucas says:

    I hadn’t read your blog last week but Doni told me about your injury. Hope it’s not hindering you too much and I know you are looking forward to resting it this weekend. Keep pacing yourself, the goal is to finish, not to be necessarily the fastest.

  4. Alicia Haase says:

    Maybe you’re just lazy? Right. HAhahaha!

  5. Beth Paulson says:

    Congrats on achieving the (more than) halfway mark on the AT! My hiking philosophy is much like yours, Melissa. I almost always get there though. Maybe when you arrive my brother has already fixed up your campsite and started the supper…

  6. Val P. says:

    Mel and Mike-
    First of all, congratulations to both of you for making it past half-way. That in itself is quite an accomplishment! Now that each of you has settled into a style of hiking that you find most comfortable and enjoyable, but keeps you apart for most of the day, I want to echo Perry’s mantra to each of you – be safe.

  7. Deb P. says:

    The trail mantra “Hike Your Own Hike” reminded me of a quote I once saw in the Sunday comics (Pickles) – “If it is to be, it is up to me”.
    Hike On!… Write On!… Click On!

  8. Susan S says:

    Hi Melissa,
    Congratulations on being over halfway done! I think we’d all be happier if we could move at our own pace through whatever we’re doing. Keep enjoying “your hike”.


  9. Megs says:

    For some reason a line from one of my favorite songs (The Jazzabels-Gypsy King) comes to mind .”Gotta turn the inside outside in, turn the outside inside out. We were born with nothing and we die with nothing, in between nothing we have everything.”
    I think you guys are doing just that – shifting everything and and tossing out the old ideas/paradigms that just don’t work anymore. What a profound experience. The lessons you are learning will shape the rest of your lives.

  10. Diana says:

    Hmmm. Lazy is definitely not the first word that comes to mind when I think of you. Finding your own rhythm seems like such a gift. Glad you are getting to hear your inner music and enjoying it. Much love!

  11. Darren says:

    So that place is sooo famous it’s INfamous?
    Colleen and I have been hiking through Sequoia National Park in Cali the last 2 days and I just got a signal. We’re heading up to see some more Redwoods up near my cuz outside of Arcata.
    Right when we got a signal I got a text from Doni. He’s crazy into A Game of Thrones (which now makes all these millions of people out there that have made fun of me for reading all those books just as big of nerds as me). Including Doni!

  12. Michael says:

    I guess it’s all relative. My wife Gloria and I met you and your dad on the first day of our Waynesboro to Front Royal hike. (We’re in your photo album with the tractor seats in the background) We got ahead of you because you stopped to take pics and rest. It wasn’t long though when you guys passed us at what seemed to us like bullet train speed. Please don’t fret about the speed. My wife and I were very sad when we left the trail so enjoy both the trail and the time spent with your Dad. I’m sure you will look back at this and consider it one of the most precious times of your life. You both were like little rays of sunshine in our lives. We’ll continue to follow you.

  13. Jrae says:

    Hey Melissa,
    It is wise that you have slowed down and are not being hard on your ankle.
    That’s important!
    Going at your own pace sounds ideal!

    We are finally getting some warm weather here in Nor Cal after a long, cold and rainy Spring!
    It’s great and there are so many things to do here in the Summer.

    Love, Jrae

  14. Dan says:

    Hi Melissa and Mike,
    I have been following you two since before you started on the AT. I live in the Rochester area (Gates) and my folks live in Chili, NY. I stumbled onto one of Mike’s pictures on Rochesterhomepage.net when I was checking the forecast and have been reading your blog every since.
    I wish I could be out hiking the AT. I went to BOCES in Spencerport for auto mechanics during High School and was crushed between a truck and a cinder block wall. I am 42 now and my injuries are really starting to slow me down. I have a bad hip and a bad back from it, but can still function normally for the most part…at least at this point.
    My point in saying all of this is…
    1) you are lucky to have your health to be able to do this, many can only dream of it.
    2) only one in four people who attempt to thru-hike the AT ever finish. When you finish the trail you will be extremely proud of yourself for doing what the 75% did not do.
    3) when they say that only 25% finish, there is no mention of how long it took them. Be proud of youself for making it halfway and even prouder when you finish.

    Keep smelling the roses,

    • Mike says:

      Hey Dan – Thanks for the comment! I was hoping that those photos I put on Rochesterhomepage.net might generate a follower or two! You are the first I know of. We certainly do keep smelling the roses. If the hike was only about getting the miles done, it could just as well be on a treadmill!

    • Mel says:

      Thanks so much for finding us! Even through the hard times, I’m glad to have made and continue to make the journey.

  15. dyne Benner says:

    Way to go you two — safe is good.
    Love the photos of Mel in the stream!
    The point is to enjoy all the moments along the way and it sounds as if you
    are both doing just that! Individually.

    Looking forward to reading more — keep it up, our hearts are with you,
    and this is a lifetime achievement — already!

Leave a Reply