700 Miles that Will Have to Wait

To say that it has been an interesting week would be an understatement.

I’m not even really sure what happened. All I know is I felt like I was supposed to get off trail and go home. So I did.

The bottom line is my back/hip/leg issues seem to have returned. Not in full force (yet, anyway) like last year, but enough that I got a little spooked. I don’t want it to be like last year, when I limped into Front Royal at 0.0001 miles per hour, barely able to walk.

But I would be lying if I said that was the only reason I’m no longer on trail. And if there’s one thing the trail has taught me, it’s to be real, especially with myself. So here it goes.

The truth is, I did indeed get some kind of feeling. Suddenly, I just felt like I was supposed to go home. I haven’t been able to shake it, so I think I’m supposed to go with it.

The weirder thing is that I’m OK with it. OK, so I wasn’t OK when I was having a great big sob fest at Wilson Creek Shelter the other night. I’m glad no one witnessed that aside from the two deer that shot me looks from a distance.

But now I’m OK with it. Sort of.

Not gonna lie, I haven’t been able to find my will to hike. It feels like a job, and not the one I want to have right now. Add the physical pain from my issues, the rain, the hurricane that further destroyed my mental game, and I’m not even sure why I was out there.

Before, I could talk myself out of these kinds of hike-stopping thoughts. Don’t quit on a bad day. No pain, no rain, no Maine. Embrace the suck. All the montages. I’m meant to be out here.

Except that suddenly I didn’t feel like I was meant to be out there.

I’m disappointed: disappointed that I still have around 700 miles to complete, that I won’t be wrapping up the AT this year and achieving 2,000-miler status.

I have come to terms with it, though. Section hiking will be the way I finish the miles, adding 100-200 more per year over the next couple of years. The perks? I’m only gone for a week or two at a time. I can pick and choose when I’m out. My body will have time to recover in-between sections. I might even find a friend or two to go with me, and if not, I can choose to go at a time when more hikers are out on the trail. All in all, it sounds like a pretty good deal, aside from the fact that travel arrangements are a little more complicated than simply walking south. But people section hike all the time, so it’s not like it’s never been done before. There is a wealth of knowledge and experience out there that I can tap into.

When I wrote this, I’d been awake for 19 hours going on 33 (that math took me awhile), courtesy of a series of bus rides home, so be assured this is all raw. I don’t know why, but for some reason I’m not supposed to finish the trail this year. And that’s OK. I’m not giving up. I will finish.

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Comments 4

  • TBR : Sep 30th

    Now, you’ve got something trail-wise to look forward to.

    I think section hiking is the way to go for most people.

  • Vince : Sep 30th

    HYOH. Enjoy when you go. You will know when the time is right. Fair winds and following seas.
    Vince aka The Dude, SOBO, ’17/’18

  • Christine Letsky-Anderson : Oct 1st

    Section hiking is the BEST! Sure… you never earn your trail legs, but being on the AT is always feels like a fresh, fun, exciting adventure. Section hiking takes the grind out of finishing a long hike like the AT. You can hike with the best weather, the prettiest spring blooms/fall colors, and you always are back home in comfort before you actually want the trip to be over. I used to think I wanted to thru-hike, but I’ve definitely found my happy place as a section hiker.

  • David : Oct 5th

    Good plan, Mary. I retired and started my thru-hike this year and quickly realized I’m not built to be away from my family for 5-6 months. Really homesick the whole time I was out. So I hiked 700 miles (43 days total) and plan to do 800 next year and finish in year 3. Once I decided to be a LASHer, I felt much better. ? Looking forward to my next section in 2019.


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