Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Lower Shoal Shelter to Heflin, Alabama

Forest service road along the trail

8.0 miles

I’m sitting back in a cheap hotel room that smells of stale smoke, with a shower behind me and Alabama Mexican food in my belly, but still hungry. The trail hunger has become the raging beast it was on the Appalachian Trail, and every step this morning I was thinking about town food—buffets with turkey and dressing and sweet potatoes. I’ve been dreaming every night about steak dinners.

So town is when I am allowed to make up for the caloric deficit I’ve been running while hiking. Maybe the most fun part of hiking. These town binges of food and movies and heat make me appreciate normal life, and also appreciate life in the wild. Just having toes I can feel after three days of walking in the snow feels like a luxury.

Maybe that’s why adventurers wander off, just so they can appreciate their cushy lives at home more. I can’t imagine how it’d feel to eat that first real meal after traversing the Antarctic. I’ve been thinking a lot about adventurers lately—mainly how to become a real one. National Geographic sponsors emerging explorers every year—how do I become one of those? A little 350-mile jaunt through Alabama and Georgia doesn’t seem grand enough, despite risking frostbite and hypothermia.

The hotel has internet access, at least, so I’ll be able to post some blog posts. Even in a town of 1000, internet access feels like civilization. More and more I’m realizing how happy this kind of life makes me, and wondering how I can choose it long-term. All of my friends I talk to in town comment on it. It’s like I’m coming truly alive again, traveling.

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