Doubt

**This post is dedicated to the memory of Twinkle Toes, a hiker I met on Max Patch who unfortunately passed away at home a few weeks later. He was so happy to be hiking the AT and living out a dream he’d cherished for decades. I talked to him about missing my family and not knowing if I wanted to continue on trail, and he was so kind, compassionate, and uplifting to me on a day when I was really struggling. For that, I will never forget him.** 

We’re going to change things up a bit. Rather than detailed descriptions of each day (be honest, the old “I came, I saw, I walked” litany gets a bit old), I’m going to give you the highlights of the day with more pictures. 

Day 31 – zero’d at a hostel and rested my angry feet. Met “the Family,” two parents hiking with their four kids and their dog. Most parents on the trail are older than me with grown children, so it was really nice to talk to parents my own age about hiking, parenting, and how to mix the two. Their kids were delightful.

Day 32 – today was horrible. Feeling very depressed about how I keep falling behind people I like, how slow I still am, and how much I miss my husband and daughter. Wondering if this is something I actually want to continue. 

Day 33 – got up at 5 am to try to get over Max Patch before thunderstorms roll in. Luckily the rain was sparse and I was able to spend a little time on the bald without worrying about being struck by lightning.

Funny sign at the shelter – ok kids, who tried to burn the house down? 

Day 34 – beautiful, easy first few miles with lots of wildflowers.

Passed a shelter with a suspiciously tilted privy and no door.

Got to talk hockey with another Dallas Stars fan, which doesn’t happen often on trail. I even had enough reception at the shelter to watch a game before bed. 

Day 35 – walked into Hot Springs and fell in love with the Smokey Mountain Diner. Saw Stinky and Hemlock again at the hostel, along with a few other hikers I recognized.

Still struggling with my mental state. In a few days, I’m getting off trail to go home to attend a couple family events – if I’ve missed my family this much in the first month, how do I leave them again, now that I know how hard it’s going to be? 

Day 36 – climbed up out of Hot Springs; the swollen river and rocky cliffs gave me some lovely views.

The mountain laurels are starting to bloom.

Day 38 – got to do a little rock scrambling to some really beautiful views.

Also, I hit mile 300.

I bid farewell to Stinky and Hemlock, as I’m getting off trail soon. They’ve been great friends to me and I’m going to miss them.  

 

Day 39 – I finally saw an eft! I’m told they’re augurs of rain.

Also found a potential doorway into 18th century Scotland? 

Day 40 – stopped at a hostel from whence I will get a shuttle to a nearby city, then rent a car and drive home to Maryland. I’ll be honest….I’m not positive I’m coming back. I miss my family so much. We’ll see how I feel after a rest. 

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