I awoke in the middle of the night. The fire was out. Ian was in his hammock sleeping, and Baxter was sleeping beneath it. The air was cool and some rain pattered on the tarp above me.
I felt extremely fatigued despite sleeping for six hours. But I was awake and alert, and I began to assess the first day of my trip.
First of all, I recognized that I made a mistake accepting Ian’s offer of a three day trip. The Loyalsock and Link Trails are rated as “moderate” in most guidebooks. All of my hikes have been six miles or less, and I’ve only carried a daypack on them. To do what Ian planned I’d need to do six miles a day for three days while carrying a pack four times heavier than my daypack. I knew from my experience bicycling that one has to build up mileage gradually. I’d taken on too much too soon.
It was easy for me to determine why I’d agreed to hike a trail that ordinarily I’d not have done. I’d had a lifetime of never being picked for the team. I was flattered to be invited to backpack with an experienced and enthusiastic person, especially after I’d been told by a major retail chain that I was “too fat to backpack.” My heart overruled my head.
But my head was in charge now, and I broke down my mistakes during the hike yesterday:
1. I didn’t get enough sleep the night before.
2. I didn’t drink enough the day before, and before exertion, and during the hike. This is NOT the same as saying I didn’t drink; I calculated I drank 96 ounces of fluid that day. Despite that in a seven hour hike I didn’t have to urinate once. Obviously it wasn’t enough, and I should have asked Ian to stop and filter some water for me.
3. I didn’t eat enough. I didn’t want to have a big meal sloshing around inside me while hiking, but the bananas and trail mix were not a good substitute. My weight was twice Ian’s, and while I need to lose pounds, a backpacking trip is not the time to cut back. A quick calculation showed I’d consumed about 1500 calories or less; normal amount to maintain my weight would be 2200 WITHOUT exercise. No wonder I bonked. I ran out of fuel. And this despite having a pack full of food on my back.
4. I needed more caffeine. I hadn’t had any that day. I normally drink lots of tea. While I can go cold turkey under normal circumstances, with everything else going on…..
5. I need to work on my problem with going down steep slopes. It could be fear, it could be vertigo, but its stopping me from doing what I want to do, and I was embarrassed to have a panic attack and not be able to get down a slope normally.
6. And finally, I overreacted to my circumstances. Yes, I was bonking, and the bonk makes a person do and say strange things, but the outdoors is for everyone, including me. I was going ahead with the new website launch. I was going to keep backpacking, and hiking, and cycling, and everything else. I run a website about people overcoming their challenges to participate in the natural world. And that includes me too.
I began to get drowsy again. Before I fell asleep I resolved my first action tomorrow would be to apologize to Ian for my mistakes yesterday. The entire day turned out to be something other than what he signed up for, and despite that the man behaved like a saint. I pulled the quilt over my head as rain softly hit the tarp over my head, and the silence of the forest was around me.