bri on the AT

Adventure Time on the Appalachian Trail

It’s the heat & anicCa

Neither kaleidoscope nor myself could anticipate all the various challenges we would face when we started this journey. We knew the physical and mental part would be variable and felt up to the task. And for the most part, we were and have done pretty well. Partly due to a Buddhist term I was exposed to a few years ago when I attended a ten day Vipasana meditation retreat, Anicca.
Anicca is the doctrine of impermanence.
Kaleidoscope and I use Anicca as our mantra when things get tough so we can remind ourselves that change is coming, that no condition lasts forever. But somehow since the temperatures have started to climb into the summer realm, it hasn’t been so easy.
Heat has worn us down. Heat has forced us to confront our true limits. Heat had slowed our pace and our progress. We both long for the cold days from the beginning of our trip that would push us to want to constantly move just so we could keep warm. This heat had made us lethargic and sapped our motivation. This heat is showing us what we are really made of.
I never thought that 1400 miles into the hike would be the first times I have thoughts of quitting. It just felt like if you make it this far it’s a given you’ll make it… Which yeah, it likely is, but it’s unsettling having thoughts of quitting even pop up. We are not quitters. But it doesn’t mean it hasn’t crossed our minds at some point.
I’d like to leave.
Not leave the trail… That I don’t want to end.
But I want to leave when I want to leave in the mornings and I feel I have little control over that. I wake with the sun and feel the cool air and crave it on my skin as I fantasize about leaving for the day; earning the ability to end early and succumb to the midday heat. But then there is Kaleidoscope sleeping soundly next to me, unaware of the fog rolling in around the tent and the beautifully changing colors in the clear sky, and the sounds of the whippoorwill’s shrill morning call as it adds it’s voice to the chorus of the wild morning symphony. And I can’t “hike my own hike”. I have a loyalty to this partner and have to make compromises. Yet I know our day would run smoother if she could just managed to get up and leave a few hours earlier than we have been. Heat is a powerful thing. It warms you but can burn you, it sucks the energy out of you and forces you to sweat out all the impurities in your system…. The things holding you back, the things you think are holding you back. And at the end of the day all that is left is Anicca… Impermanence, it will cool down, we will find water to help, we will get relief when the sun goes down, and it will return and go away again and again. We just have to keep our attention on the better feeling thoughts that help us through the wall.

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2 Comments

  1. Hope Abramson June 23, 2020

    I can’t imagine hiking those many miles in the heat! I’ve always been a morning person so I would want to start at 5:00. Hard when you are not doing it alone though…..

  2. briana June 23, 2020 — Post Author

    Today we did much better…we started hiking at 6:50 and finished nine miles by 10:50. I’m pushing to get going by 6 so we can be done with our day by lunch time! But it was great to have the whole afternoon free… a much better schedule!
    Chickweed

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