The word of the day is...

I was feeling pretty good the other morning. On Monday, I managed over 15 miles for the first time. Then yesterday, I crossed over into North Carolina! In doing so, I have come further than the estimated 30% of hikers who have dropped out at this point.

So there I was, sitting at Bly Gap feeling pretty good about myself. There's this beautiful tree there that looks like a moose laying down and birds were chirping all around me. I felt like I could conquer anything the trail might throw at me.

Then, Mother Nature decided to teach me a lesson.

Immediately after Bly, the trail began to climb. But this wasn't your ordinary uphill--at one point I could reach out my arm and touch the ground in front of me. A brutal, straight uphill that was completely demoralizing. To top it off, those sweet birds followed me from tree to tree chirping and laughing at me.

I made it to the top (no view) happy that I had accomplished that feat. As the trail turned, though, it opened up to show me another mountain that was just as steep but even higher.

As I climbed, I began thinking through each piece of gear I was carrying. Do I really need a sleeping bag? I was warm last night. How about those tent poles, I could just use it like a bug net. What if I ate all of my food right now? Eventually, I made it; but I was feeling a little less cocky.

So the word of the day is humble. The trail is reminding me to stay humble; I have a lot more climbs and a lot more miles ahead.

If at some point while reading this you thought to yourself, "I wish there was something I could do to lighten Devin's load," consider instead helping relieve someone else's burden. Please donate to Next Steps ( and support students in securing affordable mental health services. Thanks!