Total Solar Eclipse + Eighteenth Birthday!

Hello again, everyone!

I turned eighteen last week! I’m an official adult now. I had a good birthday, complete with pretty flowers and Chinese food.

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Birthday flowers ❤

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Foods.

I also got these trail runners for my birthday (thanks Mom!). I’ve worn them a bit so far and I really love them. My toe doesn’t reach the front of the shoe which can help prevent injury while hiking downhill. And it’s much lighter than a full fledged hiking boot, which I prefer.

 

Another thing: on the day of my birthday my family and I visited Middle Tennessee State University and got to check out the campus. Apparently I have a shot at some of their scholarships. That’s exciting, and it’s giving me something to work towards this Autumn.

I also witnessed the eclipse on Monday! Because I work at a state park within the path of totality I spent most of the day, running programs for the children and helping make eclipse day a success. But, honestly, when the sun started disappearing I was geeking out as much as anyone. It was kind of nice, actually: in the moment of the eclipse I wasn’t an employee and the strangers weren’t guests, instead we were united in an excitement that transcended our everyday roles.

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The dusk during the eclipse.

 

Also! Did anyone else see the elliptical shadows?

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This was light sifting through the trees during the partial eclipse. I was absolutely entranced. I’m not exactly sure how the science behind this phenomenon works, but somehow all the small dots of light on the ground (like if there was a tiny hole in a leaf) became elliptical shapes. It was really cool to see.

So there you go. I’m eighteen now, I have new shoes, I’m looking at colleges, and I saw the eclipse. It’s been a good few weeks.

Until next time,

Eliza

 

P.S. This is my frog birthday balloon. He says hi.

 

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Dealing with Fatigue

Hello again!

So there’s this stereotype in the backpacking world of a young, eager hiker who gets on trail for the first time and is really into it. They’re excited to make miles and because of this they tear up Georgia for a few weeks or months making excellent time. But sooner or later their break-neck pace catches up with them and they either injure themselves or just burn out. Either way they’ve so completely mentally and physically depleted themselves that it’s impossible for them to continue and they go home pre-maturely. Unfortunately this stereotype is firmly grounded in reality and it occurs often.

But this is isn’t a phenomenon confined to just backpacking. It can crop up anywhere. And it’s a problem that raises interesting conundrums: on one hand it’s important to accomplish as much as you can but on the other hand if you destroy yourself in the process then you won’t be able to accomplish anything else later. So where’s the middle ground?

This is something I’m constantly struggling to balance. For example I missed an update last week because I wasn’t feeling well and anything I wrote wouldn’t have been very interesting. And I knew that if I went ahead and pushed myself to write a blog post anyway then it might hurt my emotional capacity to write later. I knew this from years of feeling out that fine line and occasionally crossing it and dealing with the consequences.

Understanding this is also how I graduated high school early, how I’m planning my hike, and how I’m figuring out financial aid for college. Incidentally it’s become more important recently, as I’ve become more susceptible to exhaustion and simultaneously begun working full-time. Because of that particular combination I’ve given up martial arts for the time being, in order to be capable of continuing to bring in an income.

The point of all of this is that knowing your limits and making the most efficient use of your abilities is an essential skill, both on trail and off. And that sometimes it means prioritizing your goals.

Just some things that have been on my mind recently.

As a side note I’ve also decided to start posting more intermittently. Not exactly because I don’t have the energy but more because I’m working full-time right now and not doing much hiking. This summer contains all the boring parts of preparing for my thru-hike and none of the exciting stuff: I’m not buying anything and I’m not making any intricate plans. However I’m switching to only working weekends at the end of August and I’ll probably go back to a regular schedule at that point, mostly because I’ll have interesting things to say and I don’t now.

And of course I will still be posting between now and then, but not as regularly as I have been.

That’s all for now. I have a post or two planned and I look forward to sharing them with you.

Until then,

Eliza