In trying to update this blog, I’ve realized it’s been so long since I’ve done so that I don’t know where to start. I started writing a post and then thought, where is this post going? What’s the deal? I had to save the other and will use it for my next post.
Perhaps I’m thinking about things too much however, it helps to clear the mind writing a little bit. The coffee is also helping.
As an update, I am doing ok and things are fine. I’m currently off the trail, home in NJ, figuring out some next steps. Right now, I’m considering myself still doing the trail but that could change. As for my progress, I have completed to Harper’s Ferry, WV which is considered the half way point. I reached there on July 15 and was able to get a ride home from my sister going through the area to NJ.
My plan was to go home from Harper’s, settle some equipment issues at home then head to Maine and hike South. This approach of completing the trail is called a flip-flop. When I got to Harper’s Ferry and checked in Appalachian Trail Conservancy(ATC), a woman by the name of Robyn(I believe) helped me check in. She asked me my basic info and about my direction(NOBO, SOBO, Flip-Flip, etc). When I said I was flip-flopping she instantly had a concerned expression on her face. While speaking with her, she strongly suggested that I don’t do it that way but instead leap-frog(jumping to another part of trail and continue to hike north. Then go back and finish what was skipped). By flip-flopping, I would come across north bounders I was hiking with. If I were to leap-frog, I could continue to hike in the same direction and hike with others within the bubble. Knowing I was going to be able to hike with others I’ve hiked with before, it called my name a bit more. I went with the leap-frogging.
I got home and starting getting myself ready to leave again. Getting to Harper’s Ferry was a huge and extremely hard win but I made it. Later on in my posts, you see how hard and long Virginia’s terrain was. I told myself I would be home for about 10 days to get things done and head back out. Thankfully, that plan worked out. I was able to get dropped off in Vernon, NJ by my dad and hiked on my way. The first few days were slow but it was way better than my last experience of getting back on trail after being off. I even ended up seeing a few hikers I had met or hiked with early on. It was nice to feel back in it again. I felt included. In all honesty, there was also a bit of disappointment in myself- I felt like I messed up with taking so much time off(so I thought) that leap-frogging was the bandaid to get me back on track. I didn’t think I was going to make it to Maine in good time to avoid the cold weather in October. However, i didn’t let it get to me too much. This approach is actually quite common and found myself also looking forward to it by having a different perspective from another hiker finishing the trail. It was good.
I found hiking NJ into NY was really a ton of fun. There were several rock scrambles to climb over, under and through so instead of me dwelling about how tired I was or feeling, the terrain kind of kept me entertained. However, it was VERY hot and humid so by no way think it easy. The things that come along with the heat are tons of bugs and dried water sources. About 1 in 4 sources were dried up. Thankfully the local trail groups left water jugs at the trail heads to help us out and I can’t tell you how much those water points helped.
About a week of hiking and getting into routine, I was looking at the budget- I found I was running out of money. I wasn’t out but I knew I couldn’t go on much longer. Money is the number one reason why people get off trail followed by injury or getting bored. I have to be honest with myself. I had a month left on my budget and that’s with no cushion for when I get off trail. So basically, it was hike for another month and get right to work OR get off trail, try to muster up some cash and hike on. I know at this point, I won’t be able to finish the whole trail northbound but if I’m able to get some extra money together, I’m going to finish from Harper’s to NJ and by the end I would have completed from Springer Mountain, Georgia to Bear Mountain, NY. Or I would have walked home- about 1400 miles. Another time in my life I’ll complete the rest or it’s an excuse to attempt to whole trail again.
So currently, I’m home. While I’m here I’m going to do some storage purge. My aim is to clean up a bunch of stuff in storage by selling, discarding, or donating. There’s a real meaning behind “Less IS More”. If I find in the next bit of time I can’t make it back on trail then I’ll move on to what’s next. Whatever that is. A lot of people are asking me and I have a small idea of what’s next. It’s a little stressful honestly. There’s uncertainty but as I learned on trail, go with the process with what is known and things will make themselves apparent. I see others with a “Go Fund Me” page but that’s not for me. I’m the one that decided to stop everything and hike the trail so I feel it’s not fair to ask others to help me fund it.
Up front, I’m generally ok with not being able to finish the trail at this time. I get down on myself often but I feel this is a strong part of the process. It is what it is and I’m not taking back anything from what I’ve done and how it got to this point. I won’t say this part of it is a good time because it’s really not. My head isn’t in the right place, I feel a little lost some times, and motivation comes in swings. These past few days have been getting better by doing things I enjoy like day hiking, cooking meals, and going through storage to displace some things. I get it, I went from being active over a long period of time to a way drastically different pace. From research, I read this stage was common. Hiker Depression is a real thing.It got to a point where I haven’t really told anyone I’ve been home besides most immediate family and a few close friends. Sad news is that I’ve been home for a few weeks now. Since I’ve accepted that this trip may be over, I think I’m more confident in my position. I’m looking forward to the next transition.
As I look back at my time hiking, what can I say? It really was wonderful. I’ve learned so much within myself and that around me. Several amazing things happened and those experiences are going to be shared here. I’ve grown an appreciation in people and in much in myself. After so long a bond or connection is made with the trail. It becomes your appreciated enemy. You have to be able to open up and accept what the trail has to offer, teach and show. Although I’m off trail, I can’t hate it. There’s so much to appreciate. I do really really miss it though. I’ve become attached to it and learned what it is to be hiker(also, hiker trash). It’s exciting to see many of those I met on their way to finishing. Perhaps my time will come again but I know the trail is going to be there- another reason it’s not fully over. Well it’s not over until we say it’s over, right?
You should know that this blog isn’t over too. Since my last post, some spectacular things happened that I’d like to share. So I’m going to share those experiences while I can. I noticed there isn’t many pictures attached to here so I will be sure to post them as I write.
At this point, I’ve been home for over two weeks and I know my window for hiking is closing. Even I don’t make it back on trail, it is one of the best experiences I’ve ever had. My world has changed and I will think about the times on trail often. I would recommend any one interested to do it but the outdoors aren’t for everybody. I do hope to do it again or finish from where I left off, maybe both but in any case, it gives me an excuse to do some long distance backpacking. It’s a whole new love.
In the mean time, I will do some more day hiking, get back into bowling, clean up my stuff, and ponder the next steps. As for you, I hope you enjoy the reading but just wait for the pictures. I’m waiting for things to upload. Below is a few.