Our first day out on the trail we decide to take it easy and only hike eight miles. This will be a good place to start we thought. To our despair we couldn’t sleep that night… because we had too much energy!
Our biggest surprise so far on the trip has been our accidental level of preparedness. Before we left, when people asked us if we had been working out we just scoffed. We figured it would be hard no matter how good of shape we were in so we kind of just winged it. Now I’m not saying it’s been easy. We both feel like our feet are going to fall off at the end of a fifteen mile day but it’s been a lot easier then either of us ever imagined. Who knew we would be able to fly up hills and put in big miles right off the bat? On top of that we have stayed incredibly positive, keeping our spirits high despite funky smells, sunburns, hurting knees, and lack of sleep.
We have come to the conclusion that we have ACE to thank for the apparent ease with which we have started this trail. If you have forgotten ACE is the American Conservation Experience, where we met and worked for a year. In ACE it was typical to be sent on a long hike with an extremely heavy pack, carrying tools and a chainsaw, a days worth of water, the Arizona sun beating down on you and your cotton long sleeved ACE shirt. After that a light pack, frequent water sources, shorts, and trekking poles seem like a treat! In ACE you didn’t just get to hike around all day, enjoying the view and taking pretty pictures. In ACE you had to work for ten hours. Whenever hiking is getting a little old we just think, “well at least we don’t have to hike and cut trail at the same time!” In ACE you went on project for eight days at a time, so five days seems like a breeze. People think we smell bad now? Try smelling worse and being covered in dirt from head to toe. Yeah our legs are sore, but at least its just our legs and not every other muscle in our bodies. I guess what we are trying to say is thank you ACE, thank you for making us stronger and more resilient.
*I would just like to make a disclaimer. Although I have just made ACE sound like the hardest, most miserable thing anyone could ever want to do it is actually a blast and I would like to shamelessly put a plug in for it- everyone should volunteer for ACE!