Every Day There’s a Reason to Quit, but It Will Never be Good Enough
Hello world! Don’t worry, Riley and I are still making our way to Springer Mountain.
Since my last post the temperatures have been dropping significantly, which makes it difficult to keep my phone battery alive on the trail. Hence so few posts.
With the cold temps came numerous incidents and inches of snow in various states.
Lets recap from Pennsylvania south to the northern Tennessee/North Carolina border, which is where we’re currently at.
Pennsylvania in my opinion was nowhere near as rocky as New Jersey. Frankly, Pennsylvania didn’t have much to look at in terms of views unless populous towns in valleys interest you.
From Pennsylvania we plowed through Maryland and into West Virginia, where we stopped by the ATC center and got our number and picture taken for the 2017 season.
Only a few miles later we found ourselves in Virginia! This was where it finally felt like we were making progress and had officially made it into the South.
I’ve heard from a lot of NOBOs that Virginia feels as if it takes forever due to the high number of miles spent in the state. Thankfully we were getting off trail for three weeks over Christmas – just over halfway through the state.
By the time we got off it was the perfect time. We had spent many days hiking through the snow, well below freezing temperatures, and endless days of high numbers of miles to push as far south as we could before the holidays.
On Dec. 21 we got off trail and didn’t return for three weeks.
Getting back on was possibly one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do, mentally, physically, and most importantly, emotionally.
After spending three magical weeks with my fiancé, our two incredible pups, and both of our fantastic families and friends, getting back into a frozen deserted tundra was the last thing I wanted to do. It didn’t help either that the day before I got back on I had to drop my fiancé off for deployment. This was my first time going through this and it didn’t hit me emotionally until the following day after my Mom had already driven away and I found myself alone in a freezing shelter questioning why I was even out here in the first place.
The next few days I spent randomly crying, cussing over my joints, and feet hurting beyond belief after spending three weeks being a complete bum, and doing everything in my power not to freeze to death as the temps plummeted well into the negatives and snow fell in torrents.
We got back on trail with 708 miles until Springer. Each day felt as if it were dragging by at a glacial pace and at the end of each day I grew more and more gloomy on our chances of finishing the trail. At this point all I could think about was quitting. Even standing on top of stunning mountains overlooking expansive vistas I wanted to quit. I was tired of the cold, tired of my body falling apart step by step, and tired of being alone feeling like there was no end to this madness.
The only thing keeping me on the trail was my commitment not only to myself but to everyone around me. I knew that if I were to get off I would immediately regret the decision. I could never live with myself knowing I gave up this great opportunity.
Thus day after day went by, and with that the miles. Eventually, the emotional distress subsided as did some of the physical pain. I’m still dealing with severely swollen knees, plantar fasciitis in my heels, and numbness in my left hip from some nerve damage I must have caused after the holiday break.
The Grayson Highlands were the turning point in my hike. Although we experienced expected cold temps and lots of frost, the majestic landscapes and adorable ponies turned my mood around.
Standing on top of Whitetop Mountain was the highlight of my hike thus far. Looking out over the layers of mountains in the distance with sun shining off of the snowy hills filled me with such joy and peace. At that moment I never wanted to leave.
This hike has been anything but easy. Every day, especially lately, all I want to do is quit and have this thing officially come to an end.
We only have 394 miles left. That’s less than 20 days of hiking. We have some amazing places left to travel through and see, but as excited as I am for those to arrive I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t more excited to hurry up and get to Springer.
I know I’m going to miss it once it’s over, but for now I’m trying to enjoy all the little moments that I can look back on later.
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