It may be over and it’s ok.

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.

At the hiker's half way point in Harper's Ferry, WV
At the hiker’s half way point in Harper’s Ferry, WV

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.

 

NJ/NY border
NJ/NY border

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.

Happy Trails!
Angel

Left to right - Gemini, Flo, and I being picked up in Waynesboro.
Left to right – Gemini, Flo, and I being picked up in Waynesboro.
Virginia was finally over
Virginia was finally over
A couple of gents I met in Asheville, NC. One of my favorite cities visited.
A couple of gents I met in Asheville, NC. One of my favorite cities visited.

The adventure continues


Well it’s been a while since my last post but I apologize if this one becomes short.

 

Things have been going decent. I’m hiking the good hike slowly but getting there. I took a day off yesterday to dry out my gear, clean myself up and resupply and it’s all good. We’ve had a bunch of rain the last few days so it’s nice to dry my things out and get a good rest. I’m ready-ish to get back on trail.

As some may know I took some personal time off for a few days and when getting back on trail things weren’t the same. I didn’t have the same mentality but it appears things are on the up swing. The first few days were really rough and now two weeks back things seem to be getting better. I’m fighting some mental monsters these days but with some great conversations with friends and family, it sure does help and I’m feeling better.

 

Before I forget I want to thank all the classes for their letters. I loved all of the questions and reading all of them pumped me up quite a bit. I am sending a response to Mrs. Tuluca’s class via mail but there a set of about 15 on plain lined paper of which I don’t know whose class to respond to. Can someone help me find that out? I’d like to respond to those too as I am sending them directly to the school.

 

Over all though, things are ok. Like I said, getting better. There’s been some good hiking with not many views but from what I hear from other supporting hikers there’s some good stuff coming up. The best thing since my last post going through the Grayson Highlands in VA where there are wild ponies, cattle and cows. It was an excellent experience. The animals ¬†are so friendly and content with hikers. The ponies especially were cool. We took a small side trail that seemed like it would be a great view but instead lead into a pasture. We saw about 100 yards away about 15 ponies and foals(baby ponies)! We hung out there for a bit and after a while one of the momma ponies slowly approached us with her foal a bit behind her. She eventually made it to us and we were instantly in awe. She let us pet her and licked our sweaty arms and legs of the salts. It was a very interest feeling but a intimate moment with nature and animals. What we planned to be a big day turned into just a few miles. It was well worth it.

 

Currently, I’m in Bland, VA about to get back on trail after I finish up my lunch. The weather is supposed to be good for the next few days and that’ll be good for the spirits but not well for the body odor. It’ll warrant a nice shower after a few days. I’m looking to get back on trail and hopefully toward a better mental state of mind. There’s some nice milestones coming up I’m looking forward to so that helps as well. The crew I was hiking with for a while is a bit up trail but there are others not far up trail which I will try to catch up to. Hopefully I can put in some good miles over the next few days. We’ll see. I try to post again soon to keep y’all updated.

 

Happy Trails

Catching up

Good Morning, Yesterday for my birthday i decided to do nothing and sit back and relax. I was finally able to post and see the comments everyone has left. It’s amazing. Between the poems, well wishes, and just greetings I become filled with joy from the support everyone has given me. It feels wonderful and motivates me. Thank you so much.

 

I also have come across a couple of questions while reading the comments that I’d like to address. If I have missed one, please forgive me.

 

I saw a question regarding what I eat. I can’t say this is for all hikers but it’s close. Because we have to carry our food, we have to make sure they are light in weight but also filling. For breakfast, some cook up oatmeal and have their instant coffee. While breakfast is my favorite meal in the real world, on trail I like to get up and go. While I’m packing up my gear I usually enjoy a Clif Bar, which are high in calories, and then about an hour or two into my hike I’ll eat a granola bar or trail mix as a second breakfast.

For lunch, it’s usually a bit of peanut butter or a tuna packet with crackers. Lately it’s been a tortilla with peanut butter. I know it’s odd but we have to get in calories anyway we can. The tortillas help us get in another 200 calories or so and with burning 4000-6000 a day, we need it.

Dinner is my favorite meal on trail. It gives me an opportunity to get a little creative. Dinner usually consists of one or two Ramen noodle packets with some seasoning. Sometimes I’ll add it in a tuna or spam packet for some protein. Also, I’ll sprinkle in some instant mash potatoes to thicken it up. Other dinner foods include Knorr side dishes which are pretty flavorful but a tad heavier than Ramen, instant mash potatoes, and anything else we can boil up in a few minutes. We have to save our gas for our stoves also.

 

Another question was about wildlife I’ve come across. For me I’ve only come across a wild turkey. Of course some of the usual wildlife like birds and squirrels and such. Down here there are brown and gray squirrels. Those brown ones are fast. I have heard some other hikers come across bears and such but we have to stay away of course and be careful. We never know what’ll be around the next bend. Ah, I do remember coming a cross a small bunch of deer which was very pretty to watch. I think now that it’s warmer there will be more wildlife out there.

 

Well I have to get back on trail in a bit. I have a couple of big mile days coming up to get into Damascus, VA so look out for that. There’s a big trail festival I’d like to make there which should be fun.

 

Happy Trails

Keep on keeping on

it’s been a while since my last post but service and wifi had ¬†pretty sparing. Tonight staying at the Mountain Harbor Bed & Breakfast and it’s been nice since I got here this morning. I’ve heard people rave about the breakfast and their stay here so with my birthday tomorrow I decided to take a nice day in here and get back on trail sometime tomorrow. The breakfast by the way was nothing short of amazing. I woke up early to hike a mile in to get here at 8 in time and was surprised by a monster country kitchen with a slew of breakfast dishes. It really blew my mind and with breakfast being my favorite meal of the day, it immediately put a smile on my face. A great way to start the day. Two others and I already resupplied for the next few days with lucky hitch hiked into town. We had all of our errands done by noon and now time to catch up on laundry and a hot shower. A luxury on trail I tell you. Hikers are know for what we call our stank. There’s a saying on trail to ‘Embrace the Stank’. No matter what we do or how far we go, we’re going to smell.

 

The past few weeks have been pretty great. Getting small miles in but quite tough in some areas. A few nights ago at Roan Mountain and the Overmountain Shelter it snowed. As much as three inches in some areas. With snow sometimes comes rain and wind and with that, mud. Mud changes the game in this world. It slows us down because with every step there’s sliding. I took a good fall yesterday getting out of the fog and 30 mile per hour winds on Hump Mountain but luckily didn’t hurt anything. It’s all part of the game. Unfortunately, there’s wasn’t a good view with the dense fog but was nice to weather the storm and get out of it. The reward with the breakfast this morning was worth it. Work hard, play hard.

 

Over the last weekend my spirits were a little down and felt a little homesick but with good hiking buddies and nice people all around me, I’ve realized things aren’t so bad. I’m having fun. We have tough times and sometimes really bad times but the laughs and cheers with others make it all worth it. The trail community really bring things to light. Just like today with people going out of their way to give us a ride for a few miles. As said ‘The trail provides’. And I find it really does. Sometimes things just come together and wonderful things come out of it. I’m finding a bigger appreciation for life. We’re lucky to be out here and I would suggest anyone to even try living the hiker life and get what they can out of it. Simplicity really helps my appreciate what I have and what’s around me. Especially those in my life like family, great friends and health.

 

The next few days should be pretty nice. The terrain getting into Virgina is much less hilly and I’ll be able to get some really big miles in. I’m really looking forward to it. By the way, I am out of North Carolina for good. The trail borders NC and TN for quite some time and it’s to have another state off the list. TN will be off over the next five days or so and I’ll be hitting the 400 mile marker pretty soon. Some big things to come over the next few days and I’m looking forward to it.

 

If by any means I had to get off trail today, I’d be really happy and confident in myself for what I’ve accomplished. Even the small wins are a win. And the losses are something we learn from. Overcoming that first step in fear, I believe, is the biggest step. Do your best and try not to think of the big picture and what’ll it’ll take to get there. I’m learning taking smaller steps and understanding what’s in front of you is better but that’s just me. It’s like writing a paper, you can’t just sit down and write a whole paper without doing research first.

 

Over time, I’ll try to post more pictures. I’m seeing some great views recently I’d like to share but of course, service and wifi willing. The hills are tough but the view from the top is the reward.

 

Happy Trails

Angel