Days come when motivation is hard won on the Appalachian Trail.
Heat, humidity, incessant bugs, clogged springs, sunburn, boring food, sprained ankles…need I go on? These are among the many factors that can have you slumped beside the trail, while a pesky voice in your head says, “Whatever were you thinking? You? Hike the Appalachian Trail?!” That voice is often followed by a cackling laughter. I call it a “trail devil,” a malevolent voice which will do all it can to sabotage your through hike.
But, what to do about it?
Some get off the trail and into town to rest, resupply, and refocus. Others simply quit, dogged along their way home with regret.
I suggest pausing long enough to make a list in your journal of ready weaponry in the form of what I call “anchors.”
In a past blog entry I touched on this strategy. It simply consists of using your mental powers to “pull” yourself along the trail by reaching one goals at a time by the use of “anchors.”
Look at the photograph above.
Do you see the “anchor” in it?
It’s the simple patch of light.
Now, you might be viewing it some yards away, sitting on a log and feeling discouraged. The light is inviting and beautiful. The quality of it is enthereal and it has something which you find compelling.
So, let’s take the observation further. Let’s view that light as an “anchor” point; a spot to attain. A goal.
So, you say to yourself, “I don’t have to do five miles on this sweltering day. I just need to get to that patch of light.”
So, you lift your pack and intentionally take the necessary steps to reach that beam of light. Then, you stand in it for a moment, letting the warmth bathe you. You appreciate the light. You allow yourself to feel grateful for making it to this one small goal, even if it only took twenty paces to reach.
There. You’ve done it! You’ve chosen an “anchor” and you’ve reached it.
Next, you consider what another “anchor” might be. Maybe you check the trail guide and see a waterfall is only a quarter mile away. So you choose to make that your next “anchor” and your walk to it. You put aside the total miles you expected to hike in favor of a more appealing choice…a refreshing waterfall. You reach that “anchor,” and you rest a while. Then you select another “anchor.”
In this way, day by day, you motivate yourself to continue your hike. Failure ceases to be a concern. Instead, you’re focused on reaching specific, short-term goals, which will add up to miles, which collect into states hiked through, which lead to Katahdin in Maine.
Take a page in your journal and record the “anchors” you reached and those you have plotted to attain in the days ahead. You’ll no longer be daunted by unfurling miles; you’ll be happily exploring the A.T. and ticking off “anchor” points along the way.
Using the power of your intention and thought, you have a new tool in your arsenal to transform your hike from the mundane to the magnificent. May each “anchor” you choose lead you to greater adventure!