1500 Mile Marker Struggle: The Rant of a Masshole

Last week we left New Jersey for good, then overcame the challenge of the rocky roller coaster called New York, forged ahead through Connecticut, and landed for some rest here in Great Barrington, Massachusetts. We passed the 1500 mile mark and have less than 700 miles to go. Great success! So why the heck am I feeling so low?

Heading toward the New Jersey high point.

Heading toward the New Jersey high point.


Entering New England, especially hitting Massachusetts, has given me a strange mixture of emotions. Having grown up in this bog of a region, I know there would be greater obstacles than the rugged terrain. Indeed, in the day and a half we’ve been here, we’ve hosted buffet breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for a banquet of blood sucking gnats and mosquitoes. We’ve hiked to rocky ledges whose views were more an ominous weather report than a vista. We’ve been treated like dogs more and more as we’ve hiked on, but two days ago, a couple fed their frankly butt ugly dog (the dog’s face was straight up ugly) water which was clearly labeled “FOR AT THRU HIKERS ONLY” while asking us how we enjoyed the rain storm. “Well,” I’m sure the wealthy polo-wearing couple thought, “if these people are drinking this water, surely it’s okay for my dog.”

If you ain't hiking into a storm, you ain't hiking in New England.

If you ain’t hiking into a storm, you ain’t hiking in New England.

I love hiking. I love backpacking. But let me tell it to you straight, dear reader, half my body is covered in heat rash (tiny painful pimple things on my thighs, butt cheeks, calves and arms) and the other half is chafing (skin itching and falling off like I’m a freakin’ leper, on my back, in my arm pits, on my butt cheeks and yeah, in my crack), and I know for the next 500 or so miles I’ll be a mere 3 hours from home, my kitties and my plush queen size bed. Let me tell you, I am stuggling.

What you don't hear: "Take the effing picture, I'm getting eaten alive!" "GOD DAMN AAAH" "DID YOU TAKE IT?" "FUUUUUH!"

What you don’t hear: “Take the effing picture, I’m getting eaten alive!” “GOD DAMN AAAH” “DID YOU TAKE IT?” “FUUUUUH!”

In the beginning, I was not 100% sure why I was making an attempt on the Appalachian Trail again. I just knew I had to. I felt unworthy of the luxuries of “real life,” I felt unworthy of my own self respect. In 2011, I failed a thru hike of the AT. I failed! I am not putting that fact lightly anymore. I tried not to take it as a failure, but it was. Which is ok. But it’s not ok to leave it as a failure. It was a lost battle, but I am determined – destined – to win the war. And with the number of wounds and the amount of blood I’ve spilt, or was sipped from my skin (lil bastids), it is certainly feeling like a war.

The AT is more challenging than the PCT. I’m a New Englander. I live for the challenge. I know in my heart, now more than ever, why I am doing the Appalachian Trail. I will be worthy again of myself. I will be worthy of my cats. I’ll be worthy of my bed. I’ll be able to move on to a future of success, knowing what I can endure and what I can do.

And yeah, maybe this is the ranting of the product of a sick and twisted Puritanical upbringing. Well yeah, welcome to Massachusetts, baby.


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Keep it fierce,

John Rambo


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Comments 2

  • LitaJ : Aug 6th

    I am SO impressed by you!! Seriously, I get 1 mosquito bite and I’m out. You’re beyond inspiring and I’m so proud to say you’re my cousin and that you’ve taken a failure and turned it into a huge success.

  • Olldhikerman : Aug 9th

    I feel like a failure just sitting here. You are inspiring. Keep going!


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