Saturday, August 7, 2010

Things I Tell Myself

Written by: Brandon "Monkey" Imp

Two months ago I had a theory that went a little like this: The last two weeks of the hike will be an emotional roller coaster because we can see the end. Every day will be a new experience and filled with excitement. Therefore, the last two weeks will fly by. This means that we only have one and a half months left instead of two!

I held to that theory for a very long time - when the hike was rough, I would think of how little time I had left. I knew to cherish the moment and knew the trip would be over soon if I could just hold out.

Now, we have six days left. SIX DAYS!! The theory no longer stands strong since I am currently in that mysterious two week roller coaster. So far, I am doing fairly well. When I wake up in the morning and think of the number of days left, I get butterflies in my stomach. It's like I am climbing up that tall drop on the old wooden roller coasters - I am filled with excited, nervous energy. That AHHHH moment right before you ride down the hill will definitely be felt on top of Mt. Katahdin. If there is ever a point of the day I do not enjoy (ex. flying insects, tuna lunch, putting on wet clothes), I just say out loud "XXX days!" Believe me, it works.

The typical thoughts running through my head have surprisingly gone unchanged. I often think of Survivor (any of the twenty seasons), Ellen, my dog Sunny, and friends. Yesterday, I played Essence with myself for a few hours. To play Essence, you choose a friend and others ask you questions like, "If you were a fruit, what would you be?" After answering many questions like that, the others guess who you "are." Since I played by myself, I just labeled all of my friends with movies. Kate = Moulin Rouge. Dusi = Forrest Gump. Cindy = Singing in the Rain. After a few hours of contemplation, I finally came to myself. What movie would I be? It must be young, lively, adventurous, include laughs, and be more city-oriented. The answer was clear to me: Ferris Bueller's Day Off.

One and done. I will thru-hike the Appalachian Trail this year and never do it again. I applaud anyone who completes this challenge more than once (but simultaneously question their sanity.) One and done.

I like to know where I am and what lies ahead of me at every point in the day. Ringleader carries the Thru-Hiker Companion, a book that lists landmarks, mileage, and elevation, so I try to memorize what will be happening over the course of the day. Yesterday went like this: 2.3 miles to the river which I must ford, .4 miles to a road and we go up 200 feet, 3 miles to a blue blaze trail, then 3.3 miles to the highway to get to Monson...the elevation change is small but there may be hills that are not labeled. As I get to these various landmarks, I check them off the list in my head and feel accomplished.

I want to eat funnel cake and drink an icee. When I get home, I am making a strawberry daquiri.

I often get songs stuck in my head, most of which I prefer not to be in there. The songs traditionally come about because they are on my iPod (so I had it coming); however, even though I have hundreds of songs and artists to choose from, its the musicals that always get stuck. I only have two on my iPod, Chicago and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Sometimes I let the songs repeat. Once I get fed up, I go to my default "song get-ridder." I swear it works. "There aint no bugs on me, there aint no bugs on me. There may be bugs on some of your mugs, but there aint no bugs on me!" Ah, peace and quiet up there.

Six days!!


  1. Your funnel cake, icee, daquiri paragraph rhymed! It was really quite poetic. I get songs from "Chicago" stuck in my head, too - especially "He Had It Coming" and "Mr. Cellophane".

    Go Brandon! I'm so happy you're enjoying your final days on the trail. I can't wait to read the post describing the day you summit Katahdin.

  2. Keep it up until the finish Brandon!

  3. Monkey --

    You say that you "often think of Survivor (any of the twenty seasons)."

    Nice try.

    I'm not surprised that you stick up for your sister and her "many failed attempts" to make it on the cheap, tawdry Survivor (as I've characterized it in an earlier comment on this blog).

    That's 20 seasons of cheapness and tawdriness, none of which should be imposed by the Traveling Circus on the AT.

    But here's the thing -- a number of other hikers and I have felt the nega-karma that just floats around you folks. It's enough to clear out a hostel -- literally. Ring Leader wouldn't even talk to us as if we were your equals at the lean-tos at night.

    Drop the pretension already. Get real. Let the hike teach you a thing or two. You don't run the world.

    Alas, I may be too late.

    You've finished the AT -- and that's thanks to no one but yourselves, judging from Ring Leader's latest post. And where's Lightning?

    But it's never too late! Take it from an experienced hiker and an eternal optimist: you too can learn to appreciate people besides yourselves. Give it a try!