Strangely, before I began on this endeavor, I envisioned myself taking leasurely but long hikes daily, all the while bantering with a small group, to arrive at a shelter or campsite with plenty of time to wax philosophically over a number of intriguing topics, writing brilliant journal entries, learning to play the banjo, and perhaps writing a haiku or two. That has not happened.
Instead, my day looks something like this:
1) get up
2) go to the bathroom in the woods
3) return to my tent, clean up, put in contacts, and take care of feet
4) fish through my sleeping bag for today's clothes and get dressed
5) roll up and put away sleeping bag and sleeping pad
6) breakdown tent, dry out ground pad, put both in stuff sack
7) eat breakfast
8) brush teeth
9) pack backpack
10) get water from water source and treat it
11) hike uphill for 15 miles (it does not seem possible that I hike uphill for 15 miles every day, but trust me. Since I entered North Carolina, I have gone consecutively uphill. I am hopeful that since I reached the highest point in the entire AT today -- Clingman's Dome -- things will start to level out some)
12 Get to campsite
13) Set up tent, sleep pad, and sleeping bag
14) Clean up and change from hiking clothes into camp clothes
15) Get water
16) Cook and eat dinner
17) clean up cookware
18) Brush teeth
19) Hang bear bag
20) hastily write journal entry before collapsing into sleep
Off days in towns are filled with showering, laundry, restocking supplies, drying out camp gear and cleaning cookware, and eating as much as possible
Of course, there are ways I could create more down time....take zero days. Hike shorter distances. Not sleep.
But really, this is about the hike. If I concentrated more on downtime and less on hiking, it just may defeat the purpose of this entire adventure.
Actually, I wouldn't have it any other way.