Beth Meadows

Being Present with the Pain

Beth Meadows8 Comments
“Icing” my knee at Lance Creek campsite, our first zero day

“Icing” my knee at Lance Creek campsite, our first zero day

I can’t wait to catch up on these posts, and to share what it was like to prepare to leave, but I tell you what! It was so hard to find any free time leading up to the day I left. I felt like a chicken with my head cut off, going from appointment to appointment, from Wal-mart to REI to Amazon, gathering all my supplies, reading and researching along the way, as well as making sure I was setting myself up to leave home for 5 months, shutting down all business stuff, or at least hitting the snooze button on it all.

I officially made the decision to do this in December of last year, so it’s been a mad dash to get here. I’d highly recommend giving yourself a full year if you’re thinking of doing this, and to follow a blog or vlog of a couple of people thru hiking so you can learn from them and know what to expect. There are 1 million resources online for how to prepare. I was also in need of a gear overhaul, as most of mine was pretty outdated. It’s expensive and a lot goes in to deciding the gear that’s best or you. 

Thankfully, Jacob, my boyfriend, who is with me now, has been my greatest resource. It was not the original plan for him to start the trail with me, but when I realized how much I had yet to learn, I asked him to come with me to teach me as I go. 

Now that I’ve left, I haven’t had much mental space to blog. I’ve always been an avid journal-keeper, and I’m not even finding the motivation to write for myself. I am around people a lot, Jacob 99% of the time, and then other thru or section hikers. About ten have walked past me as I sit outside this tiny town motel. And if we’re not in a town with WiFi and outlets, we are in the woods without cell signal, or I’m trying to extend the battery on my phone for as long as possible. 

I heard it, and read it, over and over, that it will take about 2 weeks to acclimate to the trail. I’d say it may take me longer than that, and even longer to train my brain.

knee brace a man gave me at Lance Creek, to get up and over Blood Mountain the next day!

knee brace a man gave me at Lance Creek, to get up and over Blood Mountain the next day!

It’s been brutal, y’all! I know that sounds dramatic, but everyone out here is hurting, so I know I’m not alone. And all that physical exertion, for me, is expending me mentally and emotionally. In the end, I really am ok with it (this is what I signed up for, after all) and I truly trust in the process. My process involves foot pain that I’m doing physical therapy daily on, new knee pain, most likely due to the new weight I’m carrying, a pretty stubborn blister, and neck pain from looking down at the rugged trail while holding a 30 lb pack. 

I know I won’t magically feel like a million bucks when day 14 rolls around, but I do trust in putting my time in. That if I monitor my ailments and pace myself, everything will “buff out in the end” (as my friend Gregg said who thru hiked a few years ago). I pray to God daily that he will give my body and my mind the ability to do this. 

Little phrases come to me as I process what’s going on in my life, and the one that came to me the other day while trekking up a mountain was “Be present with your pain.” 

The way I’ve been feeling has really made me fear whether I can keep this up. It makes me worry if I’m on the brink of breaking. Am I hurting myself beyond repair? These are worries I need to let go of, and focus on what I can do in the moment. The mental despair I tend to heap on top of my physical pain doesn’t help me presently. Time slows down to a crawl out here, and I am learning how not to worry so much about what’s to come, but to live in the moment. It is literally about putting one foot in front of the other, and not worrying about the steps I have to take tomorrow.

Ice a sweet church group gave me that also fed us at Neels Gap.  

Ice a sweet church group gave me that also fed us at Neels Gap.  

So, I just wanted to explain why these posts may not come often in the beginning, but I do believe I’ll find more time and energy in the future. I am finding the time to post on Instagram, which is so much easier to do. You can see those posts here: instagram.com/amyelizabethmeadows

Thanks so much for all your kind words of encouragement so far. It has meant the world to me!