AT Day 88 – Today is just a bad day

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Bad Day

12th July

17.5 miles

Bushcamp (1479.5) to Bushcamp (1497)

Today is just a bad day, that’s all. I had no energy and was rather frustrated with the lack of scenery on the trail. Not to mention the humidity, I haven’t had dry clothes in 3 days. I feel like I’m being slowly broiled. Then there’s the rash between my legs. Today is just a bad day.

mountain views
There might be one or two people reading this wishing to escape to a place like the Appalachian Trail. This trail is no different to life in general. There are good days, great days and crap days. Today is a crap day for several reasons. Firstly, I have no energy due to not eating any dinner last night. Secondly, I’ve been soaked in my own sweat due to high humidity for about 3 days. Thirdly, my low mood has me questioning why I’m hiking this trail. Bill Bryson called his book, ‘A Walk in the Woods’. He summed it up in the title. The Appalachian Trail is a Walk in the Woods. The visual part of my brain wants stimulation. I want views. As a result I’m struggling. I’m forced to focus on the little things to find visual stimulation.

Every Thru Hiker on every trail faces at least one moment when they question why they are there. Not just thru hikers. My explorer hero Shackleton must have faced it, so must have Hillary on Everest or Armstrong landing on the moon or any famous explorer. The big question, ‘Why’. On bad days like this I’m luckier than a lot of other thru hikers, I know why I’m out here. I love nature. And a couple of years ago I made a pledge to myself to cycle, hike and travel to the most amazing places on the planet.

white blazesviews
Low on energy I decided to stop on a park bench next to the Housatonic River and cook up a large lunch. Alfredo pasta mixed with loads of Parmesan cheese and tuna. I was near the town of Falls Village and several friendly locals stopped to chat as they walked their dogs. It was the first meal I’d eaten in 24 hours. My body needed the calories. My sweat soaked body had the smell of ammonium. Something is not right with my body.

river walkingfarmland walkinglooking old
After a large meal I progressed a few miles and decided I’d look for a place to camp early. I made an error with judging where the next water source would be and was forced to climb up and over a large hill.

bridge walkingsalamander
A large storm was approaching and I was about to get soaked. I put the rain cover over my pack and secured my camera inside so it wouldn’t get wet. I was looking forward to being cooled off.

The storm hit me. Within minutes the dark clouds stole all the light and the heavy raindrops hit me. I didn’t bother with a rain jacket. I was looking forward to getting soaked. I wanted to feel cold for a change. Within minutes I was soaked and stopped to ring out the sweat and dirt from my clothes.

It was another 15 minutes until I found a stream and a flat spot for my tent. When the tent was set up I stood outside in the rain naked. I gave myself a good natural shower before drying off inside my tent. I left my clothes outside in the rain to rinse off te rest of the dirt and sweat. I’m still tired but certainly feeling more refreshed.


You might be interested in:

The Complete Pacific Great Trail Guide
The Complete Continental Divide Trail Guide
The Complete Appalachian Trail Guide
Lightweight Hiking Gear List

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  1. Brad, I’ve enjoyed your posts and photo’s through the PCT, CDT and Mexico, but I must say that you have not looked so good these last few days compared to your other photos.. I’d suggest a day or two off with some decent nourishing food .. no Subways. I’d also caution you on those tick bites..Ticks on the East Coast can carry more diseases than just Lyme and some more serious than Lyme. In addition, Doxicycline is not always effective against Lyme. I’d encourage you to get a good blood panel, including a Lyme titer from a physician experienced with Lyme (few are)vehemently the time is right. Just a thought that you can take with a grain of salt. Best of luck gong forward!

    1. I’ll be taking some time off in the next Trail town. Good food, rest and time to answer the growing list of emails etc. Yes, ticks are no joke.

  2. With the miles and miles of experiences, you know more than anyone about the ebbs and flows of trail life. I also appreciate that you don’t make it seem like a Disneyland adventure. Too many people see the “life is perfect” blogs and make huge plans to start a long trail only to find out the perfect days are less frequent than the bumpy ones.

    LOVE that you took advantage of nature’s shower 🙂 Feel better. I’m sure 24 hours without calories didn’t help your body. With all that humidity I’m guessing electrolyte resupply is extremely important.

    1. I’ve also read the life is perfect in the trail blogs, some are the most popular blogs on the internet. I think some people come into a hike like this with unreasonable expectations. Not everyday is great.

  3. Currently reading a book about Shackleton and his Antarctic adventures…. now that’s a place where the will to explore and survive has to be in you! Chin up mate x

  4. Still your pictures look very nice. So even during a bad day you are able to take very good photographs. That’s definitely not a given! Respect to you (and all other hikers) who carry on, even when it’s very hard physically and mentally. I know, because I tried, that I am not so far able to do that. Cheers ? ?

    1. Thanks Anne. I accept things as they are, a bad day is just a bad day. No use trying to make it anything else. Good days are coming, I’m sure of it.

    1. Thank fir the link Roy. One of my PCT and CDT hiking buddies was on the AT when this lady was reported missing and was involved in the search. It can easily happen. One of my readers of this blog told me of a similar situation on a thru hike where they were temporarily lost after exiting the trail for a toilet break.

  5. Bryson’s tale of his walk in the woods was entertaining as he often sarcastically told of his adventures… Mostly encounters with different kinds of people. With your writing tho, i get a whole new sense of adventure in the actual descriptions of sights, smells, how changes in weather feels, and how a body can keep on keepin on in positive or negative circumstances. You have me imagining i am actually on the trail at times because of your photos and descriptions. And i like how you share the good stuff as well as the “bad”. Blending your story with the book about Emma Gatewood (the first woman to hike the AT alone in 1955 at age 60 something) makes for a wonderful armchair adventure. THANK YOU for your posts! May your days coming up be all good ones.

    1. Thanks for the kind words Jayne. I’ve read Bryson’s book a couple of times and find it entertaining, I’ve heard a lot about grandma Gatewood. The book about her is on my reading list. I think I might listen to Bryson’s book today as an audiobook, for the 4th time.

  6. A high protein diet can bring out that smell in one’s sweat when hiking. Hopefully it’s nothing more than that. Three days of damp clothes doesn’t sound fun.

    1. I had heard of that before, the only thing is I’m on a low protein, high carb diet. Maybe not eating much food in the previous 24 hours changed something in the metabolism. Hope I wasn’t breaking down muscles for energy.

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