As I prepared for my 100-mile ten day hike on the North Country Trail in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, I considered what I would do if I failed, and didn’t complete the hike.
If I fail to complete hiking 100-miles on the North Country Trail, I promise to return to list:
5 successes I had while on the trail
5 mistakes I made on the trail
5 lessons I learned on the trail
5 things I will differently next time on the trail
And I failed, epically! Keeping my promise to myself, I have returned to list
… “Five successes I had while on the North Country Trail”:
- The first success I had while on the North Country Trail was my selection of gear. All the time I spent researching each item, comparing and contrasting different manufactures, watching gear review videos, reading blog posts and customer comments, literally weighing one item against another, all of it was time well spent.
- Although slippery when wet and muddy, the Altra Lone Peak 3.5 Trail Runners were light on my feet; they didn’t dry completely (lack of sun and dry weather) but shed water quickly, my feet were comfortable, and my toes had plenty of room in the toe box.
- The Osprey Aether AG™ 60 isn’t the lightest backpack on the market weighing in at 5.2 lbs, but it did carry well, even in with an Extremely Heavy Load (EHL), considered a payload greater than 35 pounds. It fit all of my gear, and I was able to access items easily, especially critical items like my water bottles and my inReach Explorer.
- The dynamic dual – the Injinji toe sock liner with Darn Tough wool hiking socks – provided cushion and comfort for my feet and isolated my toes resulting in no blisters.
- My homemade Smart Water bottle ‘pop up’ lid, Osprey tubing and bite valve, paired with the strap magnet, allowed me to sip water as I needed, all while on the go
- The inReach Explorer+ was simply invaluable as I was able to stay in contact with relatives, support my blogging efforts by actually tracking and documenting my hike, while easily tracking my location and navigating to preset waypoints while on the trail
- Although it sounds cliché and simple enough, the second success I had while on the North Country Trail was coming to grips and accepting that I have limits – physical, mental, and emotional. Sure these are a part of life, and I’ve dealt with each in some way and at some point along my 52-year journey, but the difference in this case was ‘being in the moment’. I can’t explain it, but there’s just something about being there, being one with nature, lost in the woods yet knowing exactly where you’re headed, putting one foot in front of the next on the trail, that makes every part of you want to keep going – to continue to push yourself, push your limits, take your physical abilities right to their edge, even knowing that in doing so, as your body fatigues even more, you increase the chance and risk of further injuring yourself. No you don’t want to stop, find a place to setup camp, rest and give your body a chance to recover, but you have to. Turning around and back-tracking is a last option, but it is also a necessary one fueled by our simple instinct to survive, when millions of years of evolution trigger our senses in moments unfamiliar to us.
- The third success I had while on the North Country Trail was that planning works! Planning your hike, from start to finish, considering as many different scenarios as possible, ensuring flexibility is built into your plan, is simply to your benefit and advantage. Being able to put it all together on paper, start my hike, expect and overcome some unforeseen obstacles, and then to still be able to see the half-way point (which was even more spectacular than I had envisioned) actually gave me a sense of gratification and honestly has planted a seed of unrest inside me to return and finish what I started.
- The fourth success I had while on the North Country Trail was discovering Blueberry RxBars are DELICIOUSNESS in a smooth blue wrapper! So incredibly yummy … see the unveiling here.
- Finally, the fifth success I had while on the North Country Trail was that “I did it”! and I got a great deal from the experience – from the crackling sound of a branch breaking in the woods that woke me from a dead sleep in the middle of the night , to sitting down next to my pack keeping myself as small and grounded as possible in a thunderstorm, having to remind myself “you’ll warm up once you get moving” as endless drops of cold rain fell from the sky – all allowed me to (in the words of Bill Bryson) “gain a profound respect for wilderness and nature and the benign dark power of the woods. I didn’t hike all 100 miles, but here’s the thing, I tried.” I actually hiked the North Country Trail.