Ect Inner Spring 1

Cycle day 7- Cycle day 14
Miles this week: 152
Houlton, Maine to San Quentin, New Brunswick
Total ECT miles: 247 of 4400ish

Oh how interesting it has been to observe the unfolding of Inner Spring while transforming from a soft baby-footed hiker back into a calloused thru hiker. So much of what I’ve become accustomed to noticing about this season over the past few years has been flipped on its head while journeying through the beginning of a long hike. Ooh, so much to dive into.

International Appalachian Trail crest guiding us out of town.

I guess I’ll start by defining my understanding of what the Inner Spring portion of a cycle is and what’s happening hormonally. I will caveat this by sharing that I practice a non-hormonal birth control method called Fertility Awareness Method (Fam). I could get into the weeds here, but for now I’ll briefly say that I like Fam because it allows my hormones to run through their pretty neat cycles naturally. This allows me to keep an eye on my overall health as the event of ovulation is considered by some to be a woman/menstruating person’s fifth vital sign. No ovulation or delayed ovulation is a direct indicator that my engines are running too hot and are being stressed which offers me the opportunity to address something and I think this instant feedback is pretty incredible, especially when under the physical stress of a thru hike. I share all of this to say that these Inner Seasons and the hormonal changes shared here apply most to those cycling naturally not on hormonal birth control methods. Some folks do still feel energetic changes of the seasons while on hormonal birth control. This is a welcoming space to learn more about cycles no matter your gender, birth control choice, or whether you’re in a menstruating phase of life.

Sunshows to the west.

Okay, Inner Spring. Roughly the time from the end of menstruation to the beginning signs of ovulation. Hormonally, for someone ovulating regularly, estrogen begins to rise here. For me personally, I feel an increase in energy, which can pull me up up away into the clouds ungrounded and fluttery if this energy is left unchanneled. Without direction and physical movement, anxiety is quick to step in and fill the space. I find myself feeling in deep community with brand new unfurling deciduous leaves and budding flowers, ripe with fresh renewal, and yet pretty thin skinned and tender. While in the previous season I felt like flowing through the world at a slow pace, I find myself dancing and twirling circles around Owen in Spring, and then sometimes falling into a deep case of afternoon logey. I notice my urge to do all.of.the.things. is strong in Spring and not following the slow steady hormonal rise this season can leave me feeling drained quickly. Despite needing to accomplish fairly consistent mileage goals with the strict itinerary rules of Quebec’s mountain authority folks, I try my best to mimic Earth’s Spring and build up without rushing.

End of day stroll hobble.
Hey Inner Spring estrogen rise.

This Inner Spring, remember the peace from knowing:
-The hormonal boost of energy and optimism in Spring is an asset at the start of a thru hike.
-Pain tolerance is higher in Inner Spring and Summer. Repeat this mantra with every inevitable painful step of the starting first few weeks.
-I prepared well for a strong energetic Spring by taking time to rest both at the beginning and end of menstruation.
-Maybe I with an increase in energy, I can outpace the scourges of mosquitos, biting flies, and noseeums.

Misty climb.
Trench feet company.

What Inner Spring looked like on trail for me this week:
-Needing more sleep, support, and food than I’m used to needing in Inner Spring. So much more.
-Complete peace wading through a waist high beaver pond.
-Physical pain, just so much break-in foot stump and blister pain, but perhaps less pain than would have presented itself had this been another season.
-More side-by-side hiking time, and more playfulness and laughter with Owen in the moments my body peeked out of the pain cave.
-More lightheartedness that dug me a bit out of the body stresses and growth pains ditches of starting a long hike.
-More reserves to support Owen in his own rare mini struggles at times.
-A bathtub at the end of the week because baths are medicine in any season.
-No outpacing the mosquitos, biting flies, and noseeums. Not even a little bit.

Thanks for the camping, old roadside church.
Thanks for the great chip flavors, Canada.

The trail itself this section was, well, neutral in intentions I suppose, but felt harsh. Finishing up the miles in Maine, we crossed the Us/Canada border and entered New Brunswick. Paved roads were abundant, atv tracks a treat, and occasional forest trail a gift to be treasured. Roads are great for moving fast, but don’t bode well for breaking in feet. Our bodies and spirits ranged from cool, strong, and cruisy to questioning and crumpled. We pondered why the route would take roads for dozens on dozens of miles when we could see mountains or at least hills all around. We listened to books about Hygge Danes and albums by familiar and comforting artists as well as new gen z artists. I took comfort in knowing Owen also felt stumpy at the end of some days. I pondered all of the new chemicals added to my regimen on trail: deet, permethrin, motel mystery soaps, laundry soaps, various styles of Nsaids, epsom salts with added fragrance, and wondered if these combined with the increased physical stress of trail would stress out ovulation this month. So far, no signs of it yet. Slightly concerning, slightly expected. Can the tall aspens, endless conifers, and a zero mile rest day today be enough medicine to counteract all of the rest? Happy to be walking. Grateful for all the things that kept me grounded and embodied this week.

Much Love xx

Hot and soon to be sunburned.
USA to the left, Canada to the right.
G’night, sun.

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