A Fine Balance


One thing thru-hikers know is food, and yes, we ate all that pizza

We have had such a great time the past week with friends, family, and food. We’ve met with my parents and brother on Saturday and Sunday and then met with our old roommate Brian, from Annapolis, today. The time off the trail with them has been excellent and we have really enjoyed them and the fact that they made the effort to come out and visit. The same thanks goes for everyone that has helped us up the trail by offering supportive emails, phone calls, letters, and care packages.

However, I’m struggling right now. I’m laying in a shelter and staying out the rain this evening. The problem is that my stomach is achy and queasy again. It’s been this way for a few days now. I don’t have all the symptoms of giardia though I am a bit concerned about that (it’s a bug I can catch by drinking from contaminated water sources). I think the real culprit is my gluttonous behavior. Six of the past seven days, we have had some sort of food stop on the trail: restaurants in the Shenandoahs, care packages in Harpers Ferry, my mother’s home cooked food the next two days, and pizza and ice cream with Brian today. I’m loving it but my stomach is punishing me and I am beginning to believe that there can be too much of a good thing.

We had the conversation today about clogging arteries and saturated fat with Brian. Though we are burning calories and my weight keeps going down – I’ve lost 15 lbs so far – we are a bit concerned about consuming the wrong calories. We tried to be good with our diets early on, avoiding junk food and candy. However, as the need for calories picked up and the desire for light weight food increased, our food quality has diminished. We are each currently eating a large bag of potato chips each day. Little Debbie has become a staple of my diet again, and I know it’s bad when, while checking out of the grocery store yesterday, we saw Hostess Doughnettes on sale, buy one get one free, and we simply said, sure, they’re high in calorie content.

Not only has the quality gone down, but my stomach doesn’t seem capable of keeping up with the quantity either. Rocket Cop and Jersey Jess sent us some good healthy food to Harpers Ferry. However, we proceeded to eat a ton of it the first night in the shelter and the queasy stomach persisted.

Conclusion: family and friends, along with their care packages = very good. Personal decision making quality and self control on my part = not so good. Moral of the story: I will make a concerted effort to eat when I’m hungry and stop eating long before it begins to hurt. The problem is that tomorrow we pass the halfway point of the trail and this is home to the famous Half Gallon Challenge. There is a campstore at this point of the trail and the challenge is for each thru-hiker to eat a half gallon of ice cream as quickly as possible. We were excited about this earlier in the trail. At this point though, it’s been rainy and we’re stuffed from too much food. I’m interested to see what we choose tomorrow. My stomach tells me to avoid the challenge, but my pride, ego, and sense of the AT experience says to go for it; we’ll see.

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