It’s hard sometimes to remember the bad moments.
Looking back on my hike two years later, I find that rose colored glasses quickly set in. Remembering warm nights at a hostel, gathering with new friends, or a quiet night sitting up at a campsite watching the fire slowly settle in and listening to the distant symphony of crickets sing me to my dreams. There were certainly some magical nights to remember.
But I’m glad I took photos of the other nights. Like my first one. Really, this is of the first morning, but it serves as an excellent reminder of what that night was like. What I thought was a powerful rainstorm I soon came to find out was normal weather for northern Georgia in the mountains. My tent, an MSR Fast Stash was not set up properly, I wouldn’t get the hang of it for another month, and the tent collapsed on me in the middle of the night with the slight wind, pouring accumulated water all over myself and my sleeping bag. This meant the morning chill set in even harder than usual as I desperately tried to bail out my flooded tent bed. Finally, exhausted, I laid down and decided to just embrace the suck for the first of many many times. The tent canopy laid over me like a wet sticky sheet, and the cold settled in like a constant numb noise. I took this selfie in a deep “woe as me” moment.
Even with all of that, there’s times I wish I could go back there to that moment, and just enjoy sitting in the rain.
I haven’t been writing as much lately, I think because I haven’t really let myself stop and think much. I’m trying to make miles to finish out the Shenandoahs before the weekend since it’s been crowded already,i can’t imagine what a Saturday will be like.
I’ve been listening audio books or podcasts almost non stop to try to finish off what I’ve got downloaded before I end my hike. I feel like I’m coming to an end but need to still soak up all the free time I have left.
And that’s the strange state I’ve been in lately. I know I’m coming up on Harpers Ferry, where I will depart for my parents home in Daytona Beach Florida. I vacilate between being excited to go home and being sad to leave the Trail unfinished. I will return next year to complete the second half, but I can’t predict what could happen in the meantime. Besides, I’m still looking at months of returning to not having control over my schedule, not having hours to just read, or being able to go days without talking to anyone. I know I’m going to miss it. But I also can’t wait to talk to my friends in person, to cook real meals, and perhaps most important attend and be a part of church again
Today I hiked from Pinefield Hut to Hightop Hut, a distance of 8.2 miles. I’m still working through ideas on what to do when I go home. I know I want to try to visit some churches to talk about some of the lessons I’ve gleaned about the Trail and Christian life, which will probably make a rough draft of a possible book, which I think will probably be called The White Blaze and the Cross I’ve also got some strong ideas for a presentation to give to school groups about science and history and the Appalachian Trail. I’m starting to think this could be a good start to a children’s book on the topic. However, I still have no idea what kind of job I’ll pursue when I get home. While I’d had the repeated thought of seeking work with the homeless, I did a search online and found no open positions doing that in the area. I need to figure out what other options there are, but I may simply return to the same work I was doing before since I was very careful to leave on good terms.
I got caught in the rain today, soaking wet and cold, I’m hoping to get my clothes at least a little dry before I hike tomorrow morning. On the plus side, I needed a shower and I at least feel slightly cleaner now
My impulse is to say things that end up divisive and angry, but that does not help. I pray for words that will genuinely change hearts and minds, and call people to reconsider. I read Luke 13:6-9 and wonder how much longer we have? So long as we have people chanting that America is a “Christian nation” I fear that we will never really find a chance to get better. We will simply excuse not only our long history of sin and hate, but we will continue to excuse all further sins as being “for the nation.”My impulse is to say things that end up divisive and angry, but that does not help. I pray for words that will genuinely change hearts and minds, and call people to reconsider. I read Luke 13:6-9 and wonder how much longer we have? So long as we have people chanting that America is a “Christian nation” I fear that we will never really find a chance to get better. We will simply excuse not only our long history of sin and hate, but we will continue to excuse all further sins as being “for the nation.”
Today I hiked from Blackrock Hut to a campsite next to the Doyle’s River Side trail. I hiked a total distance of 7.7 miles, including a side trail to Upper Doyle’s Falls (which were a bit underwhelming)
I found my energy strangely low today, feeling the need for many breaks and just generally feeling exhausted. I don’t know if this is because I cut back on the calories in my food plan to increase my weight loss or because hiked so late yesterday, but I’m hoping it’s a temporary issue.
My headphones stopped working, probably because I was caught in the rain yesterday, which is surprising since that’s happened before without issue. It was frustrating to not be able to listen to my audio books, but I did get some good thinking and praying done, including polishing up some ideas for my planned presentations on the Trail for both classrooms and church groups (one comparing life on the Trail to Christian life, the other on science on the Trail) as well as praying for friends and family I’m missing.
Today I hiked from Calf Mountain Shelter to Blackrock Hut, a distance of 13 miles. It was a hard day with a lot of ups and downs, also a lot of heat. It didn’t help that water was short today since there were no water sources along the way. I am not sure what kind of pace I’ll keep for the rest of the Shenandoahs, it’s good that I’ve pushed miles today, but I don’t think I want to keep doing that since I had to skip several side Trail views because I knew I needed to get to the Hut soon with my water low. After my experience yesterday, I kept my eyes out for any more snakes, but no new sightings today.
I got caught up on the weekend messages from my home church in Kentucky, I miss the place and those people greatly and can’t wait to go home there
Today I hiked from The Priest Shelter to Harper’s Creek Shelter, a distance of 7.3 miles.
I’ve been thinking more and more about my decision to go home after crossing the halfway point. I know I’ll miss the Trail for years to come, and I can’t help but feel like I’ve failed to take the fullest advantage of my time out here. I keep coming back though to the idea of how much I’m looking forward to life post Trail. Returning to a balanced diet, a healthier individual than when I left, and finding some new purpose in life. I’m still nervous about what kind of job I’ll pursue when I return home but I know that I want it to be something that I’ll genuinely be serving, rather than the business centered career I’ve had for years. Be it working at a homeless shelter, a church, or some other non profit, I know that’s what I crave.
I lost my tent stakes today, I probably left them at the last shelter. Unfortunately, this means I’ll be forced to shelter hop until I get to town and I can buy replacements. This won’t be bad tomorrow, where the next shelter is about 7 miles away, but after that the next shelter is approximately 16 miles. I’m not sure I can go that far, but I’ve gone close to that before and the terrain doesn’t look too bad for that stretch. We’ll have to see how it goes. If all else fails, I can try to fashion some stakes out if sticks or cowboy camp if I know the weather will be clear
Today I took a detour to go into the small town of Montebello, Virginia, where I purchased some resupply of food to hold me over until I get to Waynesboro in about 4 or 5 days.
I’m feeling more and more melancholy when I take the time to stop and feel it. Otherwise I spend a great deal of time listening to audio books, podcasts, stand up albums, or music to distract me. I keep having the random thought that my hike is coming to an end, that I’m a “failed” thru hiker, that I am stopping so far from Maine. I think about if I should still introduce myself to others as a thru hiker or if I should start saying that I’m a “LASHer” (a “long ass section hiker). I’ve had so many beautiful sights and wonderful experiences, I’ve had moments of pure rest and peace, but I’ve also had loneliness, soreness, and exhaustion. I know that I’ll fondly remember these months for the rest of my life, but I wonder how much those memories will be tainted by thoughts of failure.
Today I hiked from Hog Camp Gap to Seely-Woodworth Shelter a distance of 7.7 miles.
I spent most of the day being rained on. It’s been overcast, and while it hasn’t been storming, it’s been a constant soaking rain all day. All my clothes are wet, and it got pretty chilly as well. Thankfully, it’s been fairly easy climbing with inclines of only 6-700 feet, keeping up on the ridge I reached yesterday. I’ll go down to the town of Montebello tomorrow for a short resupply before I go up The Priest and then have
what’s probably going to be my last “extreme bounce” with a descent of 3,000 feet followed immediately by a 3,000 foot climb
Today I hiked from Brown Mountain Creek Shelter to Hog Camp Gap, a distance of 8.2 miles. I had a good day with a long climb up the side of the mountain, pleasant weather, and good terrain. I’ve got a nice campsite with soft ground to sleep on and looking forward to a good night sleep. I spent the day listening to the audio book for Please Don’t Tell My Parents I Blew Up the Moon which I’ve really enjoyed. It’s a pleasant and light book which helped to cheer me up, which I needed because I was in a strangely melancholy mood this morning.