Yesterday, Sat 19 July, marks the day my team Tactical HUMINT Team 19 pushed out to Gardez, Afghanistan in 2003 and the day "The White Devil Woman" was born, haha. Today, 20 July, marks the day that one of the greatest Non-commissioned Officers (NCOs) I have ever known, SFC Christopher Willoughby, was killed in Iraq in 2003. This got me thinking and analyzing.
As much as one may want to just "wing it" each day out here on the trail, the reality is that planning has to go into each day. I would say water resupply is the biggest element you have to plan around. Where you can get water influences how far you can/need to hike and where you end your day. It really is best to end your day at water so you have plenty for dinner, breakfast the next morning and to start your next day of hiking filled up. The next big factor is food resupply. Where is the next place you can get into a town to buy more food determines how much food you need to carry with you at a time. Once you stock up on food, you need to stick to your planned daily miles to your next resupply so you don't run out of food. Lastly, is showers and laundry. You can only shower and do laundry in town or at a hostel, and doing so every 7 days is ideal to maintaining morale. So again, you have to look ahead and plan. My experience as a Non-commissioned Officer (NCO) has definitely prepared me to handle such planning. There isn't much difference between trail planning than mission planning. And after 20 years in the Army, planning and taking care of people/soldiers is most certainly second nature to me. So while these skills and attributes are beneficial to me out here on the trail, they have also resulted in my by stressed out.
After we parted ways with our initial slack-packing partner in Damascus, VA, we began slack-packing with three other hikers we had met along the trail. One of the three went back to full-packing at Mt. Rogers visitor center, with the remaing two slack-packing with us until we parked the car near Bland, VA. At Bland one of the remaining two hikers quit the trail and went home, the last guy decided he would tag along with mom and I as we returned to full packing. Slack packing really took a toll on me mentally and emotionally. I was Team Leader, SSG Henderson, all over again, planning each days hike (where there were parking areas that we could hike between), making sure everyone had food and was happy and content. One of the biggest reasons I was excited to go back to full pack was the fact that I would only have to worry about me and mom, and that hasn't been stressful. However, that has not been so. This remaining guy who has been "tagging" along, has continued to cause me stress, because his opinions have been influencing my daily decisions and I have still been worrying myself with what he wants to do, etc. Rather than just doing our thing and not worrying about what he wants to do, I have been allowing his input to influence my decisions. I have allowed this because I have been worried that he will think I am being bossy or mean. This is something I have and do struggle with a lot, worrying about if people perceive me as being bossy or mean. Bottom line, me and mom finishing this hike is most important, so from this point forward, I am focusing only on mom and I and our mission, to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.
Those are my thoughts for the day, we miss and love you all. Feel free to come visit, don't worry I will make sure you are fed, watered and happy while you are here!!!