A Piece of Toast Hiked the Entire AT
I’m above the clouds. But this time
I’m not on Mount Washington.
I’m sitting on an airplane waiting to get back to my family. Yesterday at this time I was descending Katahdin, ridiculously high on life.
Seeing the sign was surreal and weird. There were so many people at the summit. About 50 day hikers were sitting and also taking pictures with the sign. I actually had to wait in line to take my picture.
I didn’t really feel much of anything until the descent when I ran into a day hiker who couldn’t stop shaking my hand. He excitedly asked,” You hiked the whole Appalachian Trail?” and I said “yes I just finished the entire Appalachian trail”.
Saying it out loud felt so weird.
I finished the AT. I’m done.
5 months and 1 day with about 2 weeks of zeros.
It’s impossible to put into words what I feel.
I’m excited to see my family. Nervous to start a new chapter of my life. Sad to see the trail and my trail family go. Ridiculously proud of myself for finishing my goal.
And that’s just the tip of the emotional roller coaster I’m on. But mostly I feel at peace. Which is strange considering all I’m feeling..
My thru hike went relatively smooth as far as thru hikes go and I have no doubt in my mind what I have in this life to come will also go well.
The wave of “congratulations” is overwhelming. People are so much more excited than when I graduated Summa Cumm Laude from college. To be honest, the trail taught me much more than my undergraduate degree. Caila, one of my best friends, said “you’ve lived a lifetime of experiences in 5 months “. And this is very true.
Here is a bulleted list of what I have taken away from the Appalachian Trail… as I love bulleted lists (don’t worry, no LNT practices were violated):
- I learned that my body is amazing. I have been generally uncomfortable with the way I look for as long as I can remember. But this body of mine hiked 2,189 miles over mountain ranges. I have a different approach as to how I see myself. I love my body which God has gifted me and I plan to take better care of myself nutrition wise more than I have ever before.
- Family is everything. Period.
My mom was my best resource on the trail. She deserves about as much credit as me. Without her help I wouldn’t have finished and been able to attend school in the fall. My brother is my best friend. My dad has supported me the whole way regardless of his initial doubts .
- People are really what matters most in this world. Yes, take care of yourself first. “You can’t pour from an empty cup”. But loving people is what this is all about (at least to me). I’m so excited to enter into my career where I will be able to better everyone’s life that I encounter, at least in some way (hopefully). I want everyone I get to know to feel special and important.
- The weight that you carry in your heart is more important than the weight in your pack. Fear is the biggest offender. For a long time I was still beating myself up about past mistakes or at least feeling guilty every once and awhile. This negativity is not needed. I’m forgiven. I’ve learned and it was way overdue to let go.
- Let go of your preconceived notions of the way you think your life is supposed to go. Embrace spontaneity. Life is too great to be living on tip toe. Feeling hurt, rejected, or feeling failure is better than wondering “what if”.
- This world we live on is pretty darn amazing.
I’m sure I could ramble on for a few more paragraphs, but this is the gist of what I have learned.
I’m not following white blazes anymore … I guess it’s time to blaze my own trail.
Also, at our celebration dinner our group met and talked to Jenn Pharr Davis who was eating dinner with her family at the same place ! I don’t know if the day could have got any better.
or I guess I go by Emily now
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