Wayah Bald, NC. 5,342 feet.

You never know what a day will throw at you. And I suppose, it doesn’t really matter what it is, but more of how you choose to react to it, to embrace it, and to see it with a positive outlook.

Take for example, a day of relentless rain, followed by a day filled with blue-bird skies stretching into and across and infinite horizon. As I stood at Wayah Bald, where an old stone fire tower pierces into the sky, I looked south across a sea of ridges, each fading to a lighter shade of blue. And there, on the farthest horizon, was Mt Albert, another 5,000+ foot peak, and it’s own piercing fire tower. Not more than twenty-four hours earlier did I trudge up the steep, wet and occasionally icy trail to that tower where the views were completely absent. But it didnt bother me. Not one, wet, muddy footstep, bit. And now, at Wayah, a vast landscape captured my attention. The 360-degree view was incredible, flawless, and offered a depth of beauty to gaze out upon and to be grateful for.

One of the most amazing things about hiking at a fast pace is that when I reach places like Wayah Bald, and look back on a day’s worth of solid hiking, I can only be humbled. To see that progress, stretched across a sweeping landscape, is without a doubt a powerful feeling. And further, a motivator to keep chugging along.

Some people think I hike too fast, that I can’t possibly see anything along the way. I think the opposite. I think, perhaps, that I see more. With my trekking poles in hand, my gaze often falls on the horizon, or on the texture in the forest, or the little subtleties that one would think you’d miss if you weren’t stopping to smell those so-called roses. Ultimately, however, you can’t have it all, and along any journey in life, we need to remember to be grateful for what we have and not to be distracted by what we don’t.

I’m sure it won’t all be wonderful and merry on this trip. But for the time being, I’ve been seeing things in a bright light. One step at a time right?

UP NEXT: Smoky Mountains National Park. It’s going to be a low of zero degrees tomorrow, but at least it’ll be bluebird.

7 thoughts on “YOU WIN SOME, YOU LOSE SOME

  1. Mary,
    I love following this adventure of yours. Please be safe, take lots of photos, smell the roses and keep the updates coming! Also, know that you are missed in Bend, Oregon!


  2. Hi Mary – love your writing – paints an incredible picture of what it’s like to (sort of) walk in your shoes. I hope more people will follow your amazing example of courage, strength, and adventure, and get out for their own adventures. Way to go!


  3. Great attitude! Love the positive nature of your posts. Am also loving your book, “Married to the Trail”. Quite a contrast to where you are now. 😉 Be safe with that snowstorm on its way to your neck of the woods.


  4. Glad to see that the picture of me doesn’t show that my headlamp is still on… In broad daylight. Since meeting you I’ve been faithfully starting miles at sunrise after a huge cup of butter coffee. With Irish butter, of course. I have to admit, it feels like “where in the world is Carmen Sandiego” when reading your shelter entries and talking to hostel and cafe friends you met a week back – gives this hike another flare, always good when living outside in the teens. Lastly, I’ve been able to sustainably do 20+, something that I was mentally blocked from before hearing about your pace – thanks for the inspiration and hope to pick up our convo sometime.


    • Hey New Year! Good to hear from you. I think about you and Blizzard behind. And when I meet folks in towns, their eyes wide and wondering at how early I am, I tell them there’s at least a couple others not too far back. And that gives me a little burst of joy, knowing that I’m not alone, and knowing that others are walking through snow, the cold, and occassional the dark. I’ve tried to get in the rhythm of starting by 6:30. I’ll jog some of the downhills, but I usually can make it to the shelter 24, 25, 26 miles ahead by 5:30. That’s nice because leaving in the dark is fine by me, as then I can enjoy the day lighten and warm…but if it falls to darkness, it’s just cold and dark and lonely. Well, hope you found a way to keep those feet warm. Two nights ago it was cold!!! And looks like another spell of cold temps is in the forecast for the weekend. Glad to have crossed paths with ya, although brief. -Speedstick


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