So let’s chat about the physical game here when on trail. While thru-hiking the AT, a hiker burns about 6000 calories a day. So far I would guess I lost about 10 pounds. We sweat all day in the same clothes and eventually we smell. In honesty, it’s something we just get used to and eventually embrace. As we say on trail ‘Embrace the Stank’. But what we put out is really related to what we put in. By that I mean water, food, and rest. At first, for at least the first few days, our diet is kind of the same when at home- three square meals. After a few days that appetite increases. Now I have to eat every two hours or so to keep my energy levels up. Most importantly, I have to drink more and more water. I made the mistake yesterday into today of not drinking enough water and my lesson is learned. I became a bit dehydrated today and I easily felt the affects out of the gate. I was sluggish, foggy minded, and couldn’t focus. Believe it or not, it takes a lot of focus to hike the trail. There’s kind of a strategy, if you will, to foot placement, how to use trekking poles correctly, and going up and down hills. There are rocks, roots and sticks in the way that can easily trip us up causing us to lose stride and after a long day of hiking, the affects are felt more from aching feet and sore legs.
At first, I thought I didn’t get a good sleep(which i didn’t) but then realized I barely drank water today. Maybe a few sips. I try to make it a habit in the morning to drink a good amount of water to get the body going but that didn’t happen today. The body needs that water to help itself keep running and make repairs. The body becomes a machine and water and food are everything.
About 3 miles from my destination I came across a spring. I filled my container to start filtering and about 10 minutes later realized I drank about 2 bottles worth. It changed the rest of the hike. I was able to push better on the hills and stay on a good stride without getting tired too fast. Tomorrow morning I’ll be back on it with the water intake.
For food, we eat high calorie foods. As some eat them often, personally I try to stay away from candy bars. Though they are high in calories but those sugars aren’t going to help me get stronger. I try to go for granola, trail mixes and jerky. Those proteins will help me get that last push up a hill and further. For dinner its prepackaged rice, pasta, and ramen dishes which settle easy in the tummy and are filling. It’s important to realize that if you exercise, diet right, and sleep well, your body can do amaZing things.