One Month Later

It has been one month since I finished the trail. Every day I think of some way to tell people what it was like to walk through a chain of mountains on a footpath that extends nearly 2200 miles in length.  I can tell of the misery of bad weather, explain the aches and pain the body endures, try to convey the fears we were confronted with every day, and describe what it’s like to dedicate such a large portion of your life to something no one told you you had to do.  I can tell of the beauty of the mountains, describe what it’s like to be one with nature, live simply with basic needs, and find motivation in moving forward towards the inevitable goal you have set for yourself. After all this time, I still don’t know how to put my AT journey into words that reflect my life for those six months; I’m not sure I even want to.

How has the trail changed me? In the past few years I read numerous journals and books about thruhiking the AT, all with great insight into what a person undergoes on the trail. I thought I was well prepared for what I would encounter out there. I thought I would know how I would feel both during and after the hike. I thought wrong.  Until you hike it yourself, you can never know what it’s like or how you will feel.  It might be selfish to say, but we belong to an exclusive club. I want to share the experience, but in some deep personal way there is a part of me that doesn’t want people to understand; I have something that’s mine, and everyone else should find a peace of their own. Other than knowing I have accomplished something extraordinary and maybe dealing with things a little more patiently, I don’t think I’ve changed at all.

I’m often asked what was the best part of the trail.  I have to say that each day I was out there was better than the day before.  The mountains get more beautiful the further North you travel, the friends you make become closer with each passing day, and every day puts you closer to accomplishing your goal.  There was never a day when I wanted to give up. Sure, some days things didn’t always go as planned, but even those days were better than days when I had to work for a living.  If I was younger and had a healthy body, I may have turned around and hiked south from Maine

5 Responses to “One Month Later”

  1. Daryl says:

    This makes me wistfully wish I had done it with you, but as I’ve said before I don’t think I could have. I envy the special feeling you have that comes from doing something so unique, being a part of a small fraternity.

    Maybe not quite as unique as the group of men who have stood on the moon, but that kind of feeling.

  2. Donna says:

    I’d do it if it weren’t for the mice in the shelters. 😉

  3. X says:

    Dear friend Castaway,

    First… we miss you!

    Second… from reading this most recent journal entry of yours, I discovered we share so many of the same feelings & thoughts (no surprise there, really…). And you say it so well, so eloquently. Thanks to you, I believe now I have answers to the questions: “How do you feel after through hiking the AT?” or “How has it changed you?” I realize now I do not NEED to voice my answers. The deeper meanings and understandings can stay safety tucked within my heart. Thank you for lifting a burden off my shoulders.

    In the – What’s next? – catagory for the Troverts… we are planning our next hike! We are looking at doing the John Muir Trail (JMT) next July. It’s ONLY a mere 250 miles long, and is touted as being the most beautiful trail in the USA. It will take more food drop planning than the AT since re-supply options are not as frequent. And it will be 8,000′ to 15,000′ in elevation through the high Sierras. Would you like to join us? [Check out Tagless & Tag-along’s journal of their 2011 JMT hike on our trailjournals.com site.]

    We hope you are feeling better. How’s your foot? Knee? We still have numb toes, but are out walking about 5 miles nearly every day now. We gotta keep movin’!

    Love,
    X

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