Everything and nothing

For months, years, I have wondered what these first few days would be like. And it is everything and nothing like I imagined it to be. It is so much better.

springer mountain

appalachian national scenic trail

These first few days of hiking have been more of a relief than anything. A relief that we’re finally here. A relief that the work of hiking is so much easier than all the work to get here.

thru hiker box

The hardest part for us truly is getting out the door.

hawk mountain shelter

horse gap

When Damien first threw out the idea of thru-hiking the AT, many moons ago (she writes while listening to the gurgle of Lance Creek in the Blood Mountain Wilderness, under a crescent moon and starlight evening) it was the physical nature of hiking that I just couldn’t grasp.

cartwheel and tenacious bling

The heavy (lightweight) load, the sweating (I used to shudder at the thought), menstruating in the woods. All that stuff. I thought that would be the hard part. But getting here was so much harder than all of that.

fire blackwell creek

camp blackwell creek

It was birth, all over again, three long months of being in the birth canal, after months of gestation. It was a squeeze and many days I felt trapped, stuck in the path we were on, with no place to move but forward, in the hopes that it would be worth it. It was.

snack on trail

ramrock mountain

Damien and I have some relationship building to do after such a stressful period. We want to just be with our kids, together, and in the outdoors, without deadlines and crunches. We’re in the perfect place to do that.

spring blossoms

There is no place I’d rather be.

The work of hiking is hard, absolutely. Even at 27 lbs, which is on the lighter end, the pack feels so much heavier than I imagined it would be after seven hours. I don’t remember the last time I’ve sweat this much (and it’s only spring). When I start in the morning my legs scream at me, “sit down, don’t move another step”.

But it’s still easier than getting out the door. It’s still more enjoyable than most of the work we did to get here.

camp lance creek

That’s the part I wasn’t expecting and find so surprising. This is not as hard as I thought it would be. But getting here was so much more work than I had imagined.

thru hiker box

Now that I’m here, really here on the trail, close to one week and over 50 miles done, I’m ready to close the chapter on our journey here, and learn from its lessons, which I’m still processing. And the main lesson may be just this: launching an amazing adventure takes an amazing amount of work (and support from helpers).

thru hiker box

So does long distance backpacking but having come through the last year to get here I do believe I’m up for the challenge.

Renee Tougas participates in affiliate marketing, including the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. Whenever you buy something on Amazon from a link you clicked here, I get a (very) small percentage of that sale. See disclosure for further explanation.

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« First day of spring (go figure)
Are you kids having fun? »
  • Jeanne

    Jeanne on April 6, 2014, 4:26 a.m.

    You made it! Wonderful. Even more wonderful to hear that you are embracing the hike and feeling liberated from all the stress of preparations. Enjoy!

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  • Carmen

    Carmen on April 6, 2014, 8:43 a.m.

    Great to hear from you! I've followed you for years but am not sure I've left a comment before. A beautifully honest post Renee, long may you enjoy your adventure. 

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  • Sharon

    Sharon on April 6, 2014, 9:03 a.m.

    Phew! Fantastic news everything came together and now you're able to enjoy the hike. 50 miles already is an achievement. The photos are incredible, there's nothing quite like a campfire to connect you to others and nature. Look forward to your next video. Best wishes and enjoy.

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  • leah

    leah on April 6, 2014, 10:44 a.m.

    I've been anxiously waiting for an update! So glad that it's going so well! My dream is to someday be in the woods for an extended time...maybe when our children aren't quite so small.

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  • Alison

    Alison on April 6, 2014, 10:59 a.m.

    Really grateful for this post. Grateful that you are there, that you are all enjoying it, that you have time to process the last few months. Grateful for the tone of this post too, which gives me encouragement for my own long 'birth canal' experience just now - that it will be better/easier/different to the build up. Thank you, and all good wishes for the coming week.

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  • Carol

    Carol on April 6, 2014, 11:17 a.m.

    I have been waitng with interest to see how you are going. So glad to hear you are ok so far. We'll done I am cheering for you all. 

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  • Alaina

    Alaina on April 6, 2014, 12:16 p.m.

    I've been checking for an update!  So glad to see pictures and hear how its going.  It's just like that post a long time ago that I remember- the hardest part is getting out the door, it seems.  So much wisdom for a lot of things in life.

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  • Misti

    Misti on April 6, 2014, 1:52 p.m.

    I'm really glad you posted. I was just thinking yesterday, wondering if you were on the trail yet. I'm getting all wistful and reminiscent...I wanna be out there.

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  • JenP

    JenP on April 6, 2014, 3:09 p.m.

    I can see the relationship building happening! Those cozy tents, the campfire, and walking side by side- I'm so grateful for this little glimpse into your trail life. You are truly inspiring me to get out there. It's just one foot in front of the other now.

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  • Rana

    Rana on April 6, 2014, 4:33 p.m.

    Glad to hear you had a good start on to the trail.  I found a great web site with maps and photos so our family can keep track of where you are on the trail.  We are looking forward to your first trail video.  Enjoy your family and the beautiful outdoors.  Best wishes!

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  • Kim

    Kim on April 6, 2014, 7:03 p.m.

    So glad to see your first trail posting!  We've been watching the videos and keeping track of the adventure.  So glad Brienne chose Tenacious Bling as her trail name!  It sure fits her.  We've got a severe case of Springer Fever here... I can see my beautiful watercolor of Walasiyi (Neel's Gap) from my chair in the sunroom, so I'll sit here and reminisce.  Enjoy your hike!

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  • Jessica

    Jessica on April 6, 2014, 9:06 p.m.

    We just finished watching episode 3 of BOB and we were so excited to see this post!  We are so happy that you made it safely and that you are having fun!!  The pictures are GREAT!  You are all an inspiration to all of us.  Tomorrow's homeschool plan is to make a map of the AT so we can track your progress!

    Stay Safe and Have Fun!!

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  • Jacinda

    Jacinda on April 6, 2014, 10:08 p.m.

    Great news. Our family has just watched your 3rd episode and we're all feeling excited for you all. My girls are inspired by the adventure. And yes I hear you about getting out the door. We have a 10 day hike planned in 2 weeks and just this morning I was suggesting that we change plans...the physical stuff seems so much easier than the mental stuff.

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  • Kim G.

    Kim G. on April 7, 2014, 5:03 p.m.

    It was sooo great to hear from you!  I'm glad it is better than you anticipated.  This was another great read with great pictures!  I hope you enjoy your experience this much right through to the end!

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  • Mea

    Mea on April 11, 2014, 11:11 a.m.

    Exciting stuff! So glad for the update. Your post was my regular Saturday morning date ;).  I will miss them, but the change is worth it. What a blessing for you and your family. Praying for you all! 

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  • beth

    beth on April 12, 2014, 2:56 p.m.

    So glad everything is going great so far. I told my husband this morning what you and your family are doing. We will be keeping you and your family in our prayers through your journey. Have a lot of FUN and make a lot of memories!! Thanks for the info.on the weight of your pack. My son is out prep hiking today on the AT for his hike this summer and we were talking about the weight with him and how it may seem light now but after all day it is a little different feel.

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  • Heather-Lee

    Heather-Lee on April 15, 2014, 5:49 p.m.

    Yay!  So happy to see this update after watching your 3rd episode with my family.  I can only imagine how difficult the past months were for your family, but I'm really happy to see that the pain is fading and you all are able to enjoy this blissful new adventure.  Not that it won't be challenging in itself, but at least now you can relax into those challenges together.  Congratulations and good luck. We too are eagerly awaiting your first trail video!

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