… “Five mistakes I made while on the North Country Trail”:
- The first mistake I made while on the North Country Trail was actually at the very beginning of it all, when I deviated from my original plan and decided not to hike 3.5 miles East from Norwich Road to the Mile 100 Waypoint, turn around, and then hike 3.5 miles West back to Norwich Road. Instead of being patient, I made a snap decision, turned right, put one foot in front of the other and headed West on the NCT – in doing so denied myself the opportunity to stop, make weight adjustments to my pack (if needed) by placing a few non-critical, or nice-to-have items, back in the Caravan and then continuing onward. Even though I managed to hike three quick miles in about two and a half hours on the first night, not sticking to “The Plan” would take its toll.
- The second mistake I made was actually ‘not falling’ when my trail runners lost traction in the rain, mud and leaves, and sent me tumbling backwards toward the ground. By not just going with the fall, rather fighting it and trying to stay upright, I injured myself and severely strained a number of muscle groups. These injuries would soon become the primary reason for deciding the take the last option, turn around and back-track to Norwich road, ending my 100-Hike on the North Country Trail early.
- The third mistake I made while on the North Country Trail was not packing the Superman Suit! My thinking that if I just ate a snack to boost my energy level, drank a bunch of water to re-hydrate myself, slowed down and hiked a little easier, I could somehow push through it all and continue onward – even though every part of my being wanted to believe I could – was critically flawed.
- My fourth mistake made on the North Country Trail could be called a rookie mistake, and as Zach Davis points out in his ‘Appalachian Trials’ is one that most novice hikers make, namely “bringing too much stuff, … usually starting off with fifty percent more supplies than they need”. As a result my pack weight was classified in EHL (Extremely Heavy Load) category, weighing greater than thirty-five pounds, and was just too heavy. Don’t get me wrong, the Osprey Aether AG™ 60 did its job as advertised and carried it all, but physically I was not ready to carry and support such a heavy pack.
- Last but probably most important, my fifth mistake made while on the North Country Trail was simply not drinking enough water. Sure, I carried in 2 full liters of water and had opportunities to stop and filter water if needed, but I didn’t feel thirsty while I was hiking, so I didn’t hydrate myself on a regular and consistent basis. I can tell you that after making the decision to turn around and back-track to Norwich road, when I stopped at Mason Creek to filter water and replenish (with both 1-L Smart Water bottles empty), I was already dehydrated.