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  • Writer's pictureBriana DeSanctis

America on Two Feet: First 100 miles

Updated: Feb 28

It’s been over a week since I’ve been on the American Discovery Trail, hiking west some 5,000-plus miles to the Pacific Ocean to inspire others (I hope it’s working). I have over 100 miles under my belt and counting. I’ve been properly initiated into Maryland and Delaware is disappearing behind me. I can tell you one thing for sure at this point: If you think I am roughing it, you’re completely wrong.

I’ve only camped out twice and set my tent up one of those times. I’ve stayed the other nights at houses of friends, family, or people I’ve met and they’ve transported me to and from the trail. I haven’t had to get my water from a stream, I haven’t hardly touched any of the food in my pack, and anything I need or want hasn’t been far away. It’s almost like I know too. many people around the D.C. metro area. The people are definitely what helps to make this trip awesome. I’m getting to see lots of trail friends that I made on the Appalachian Trail and in other walks of life alike, and it really gives me encouragement to keep on hiking.

Walking along the road is undesirable. I yearn for the day my feet walk upon a dirt trail instead of the left side of a sometimes aggressively crowning road with no shoulder, approaching oncoming traffic; the drivers are more concerned about texting than looking for a hi-vis-clad backpacking lunatic on her way to the west coast.

So far I have gotten a blister which has been treated. My right ankle and foot swelled considerably with some sort of injury to my achilles tendon, but it’s walkable. My left foot has pain on the outside which probably is also due to the unevenness of the road. I can deal with it. My shoulders are taking a beating but I am continually adjusting my pack to lessen the blow. Having friends for support sometimes enables me to carry less weight in my pack while I am hiking. For example, I left my tent, sleeping bag and extra food at my friend’s house the other day and hiked with a lighter pack. I’m worried about getting an early injury but I don’t want to take a lot of time off, so this is a logical compromise. In the hiker world, we call it “slack-packing.”

The first two days were rainy and cloudy with temperatures in the 60s. From the third day on, it has been cold with intermittent snow squalls. The people of Delaware sadly do not have much experience plowing roads. They actually call it “scraping” instead of plowing and that’s exactly how the wreckage appears. Speaking of scraping, that’s what happened to my knees after I fell five times on the black ice on my last day in Delaware. This will gross you out, but I want you to know that there is still a struggle out here. I have scabs on my kneecaps, and after a day of sweating and hiking, and my spandex pants stick to the scabs. When I change my pants, I rip the scabs off every time. It hurts a little bit. Sorry if I ruined your breakfast back there.

I was hiking past the Annapolis Police Department onto a bike path called the Poplar Trail when the first opportunity arose to use the badass knife Stu Hotchkiss made for me. The trail was completely engulfed in bent-over bamboo, weighed down by a heavy load of snow. I initially tried backing into it with my pack and pushing through it. The attempt was futile, but that bamboo was no match for my blade. I cut a path and squeezed through, victorious.

Maybe this sounds like not so much fun. I assure you though, it’s just what this young lady needs. I’m discovering America. I’m meeting people. I’m (hopefully) making history and inspiring others. Most of all, I’m discovering myself and I am free. I personally thank you for all of your continued support and readership. Like and share this article! Get your kids involved in my journey!

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