I’ve walked over 1000 miles now and it is hard to put into words. My feet are a size larger, my beard is covering my face, my drive to reach Maine is unwaivering.
I’ve had my highs and lows over the last 1000 miles and as I leave Virginia, a state that is roughly 550 miles and a quarter of the trail, I have been thinking about what’s keeping me going. Reaching Maine has been such a big goal of mine for so long that moving north does not feel like a choice but a compulsion. No matter how many times my mind has told me to quit, I keep walking.
I am big on visualizing the big milestones along the trail. I spend a lot of time thinking about what it’s going to feel like to walk back into my home state of New Jersey, I think about what it’s going to feel like to reach the southern terminus of the Long Trail where I started that journey three years ago, and I think about what it’s going to feel like to make it to Maine. How am I going to feel to wake up in the morning and have one mountain left. What will the last 100 yards of the trail feel like when I can see the sign and I realize that my 2192 mile journey is about to be over? I see my whole hike flash before me and I remember the first night at Stover Creek, I remember crossing into North Carolina, I remember how the trees smelled in the Smokys, I remember the Roan Highlands, I remember swimming at Dismal Falls with my friends. It may seem silly to think about all of this when I have so far to go, but it gives me power to keep moving. Hitting big milestones feels incredible and I always keep them in the forefront of my mind. I thought about reaching Harpers Ferry for a long time and when I walked over the Shenandoah river I remembered Virginia and smiled. The satisfaction of reaching the place that I had been thinking of for so long was overwhelming.
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