Monday, March 12, 2012

Phases of long distance hiking prep.

I tend to go through several stages when planning a large adventure. The first step is announcing my plans to my friends and family. This is done well in advance, less out of excitement and more out of a desire to appall them. However at this point they tend to handle my pronouncements disappointingly well. Once my loved ones have been made aware of my plans and have hardly blinked a collective eye I move on to preparation.

Embarrassingly enough, the bulk of my time and effort is spent on idle uselessness rather than actual preparation; apparently my brain enjoys fixating on the perfect hiking outfit and weighing gear but excitement and tangible preparation fails to really make an appearance. I can agonize for hours over the theoretical inclusion of a dress to wear on days off from hiking. I've weighed my gear three times now. I'm not proud of this, but it's true.
And so between obsessive list making and agonizing over what to wear several months sneak by unnoticed and we then enter what I like to call the "Oh shit." phase. This is when I realize that I have less than two months left to get physically and mentally in shape for this hike. I become aware of all the mundane tasks I have been postponing: planning where to mail myself food, obtaining supplies, selling gear in order to afford a new backpack, figuring out the logistics of getting myself to a trailhead located on the opposite side of the country and most importantly, I start to panic about not being in shape, about my various joints and tendons crapping out on me; before I have even completed my preparation for the hike I begin visualizing its imminent failure.
I am panicking quietly at least; I just ignore the overwhelming stack of 400+ double-sided map pages sitting on my floor and I guzzle herbal teas like it's my job. I'm nursing a recurring knee injury brought on by winter hiking abuse. It's mildly stressful, to say the least. But at least the herbs with anti-inflammatory properties don't taste that bad.
I'm not going to lie: occasionally the pile of maps can longer be ignored and the words "Oh shit." really do reverberate through my mind. And when that happens rather than do something productive like finalize my mail drops instead I break out the scale again and make another list. Nothing like a little procrastination to soothe the nerves!

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