Now I have to finish.
My name is Adam. My trail name is GrizzleAdams,”Griz” for short. I am 41 years old and have a condition called optic neuritis. About 5 years ago, I sustained permanent damage to both of my optical nerves due to an allergic reaction to Amoxicilin and a very bad sinus infection. What this means is that I have about 5 % of my visual field remaining. The only way I can really describe it, is that I have very limited tunnel vision. I also suffer from occasional occular migraines in which the vision in one of my eyes will cut out for 20 minutes or so and everything will become very fuzzy. In time, my vision returns and everything is dandy, but those 20 minutes can be tricky sometimes. Add in the fact that I also sustained nerve damage in my feet and hands (peripheral neuropathy), and sometimes I can be a walking mess. I’m on a bunch of medication which helps with these conditions and if you were to meet me you’d most likely have no clue anything was wrong with me. I’m kind of used to it and mask it well. Last year I decided to embark on an adventure that no one, including myself, believed I was capable of.
In January of 2015, while visiting from Hawaii, a friend of mine called and asked me if I would be interested in joining him for a hike on the Appalachian trail. Even though I had lived most of my life in Pennsylvania, I had not done very much hiking on the A.T. so I agreed. We hit the trail early and ended up hiking about 8 miles that day. During the hike, he mentioned to me that he was considering thru hiking the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. A spark went off in my brain. It ignited like fire. I had been planning and saving for some type of vacation and this sounded like it would be the perfect thing. I figured out quickly that I would not have time have time to do the whole trail and I wouldn’t be able to afford it. As it turned out, my friend had too many obligations to thru hike. Regardless of my time and financial constraints, I decided my mind was made up and April 7th would be the perfect day to start.
My goal was to hike from Springer mountain in Georgia to Pennsylvania by July 4th. I wanted to spend the holiday in Pennsylvania with my family and friends. Five days into my hike, I rolled my ankle. It was bad. I immediately thought it was the end of my hike. Luckily, a group of hikers was right behind me and one of them offered me a lace up ankle brace. That man saved my hike. The brace and pure adrenaline got me off of that mountain. Over the next month, I would end up taking around 10 zero days just to rest my ankle. The slightest tweak would bring back the pain. Eventually, after several experiments with footwear, my ankle began to actually heal. I cannot stress this enough. Take care of your feet and mind your ankles!
I hiked from Springer to Troutville, Va and July was approaching fast. I decided there was no way I was going to make it to PA in time and that I would have to abandon my hike, visit PA for the holiday, and head back to Kauai. I hopped off the trail and had an amazing holiday with my family. Life off the trail immediately had me feeling empty, like I had left a part of me out there. There were so many amazing people, unforgettable experiences, and the water was amazing! I decided I just couldn’t quit. Not when I had accomplished so much. I got back on the trail in PA and started walking South. I made it back down to Troutville, VA completing over 1200 miles of the trail. Now I have to finish.
Losing sight in one eye while in a hailstorm at Clingmans dome, rafting with friends in Hot Springs, and the amazing trail angels along the way are all things that will always bring a smile to my face. I’ve walked face first into trees, fallen off the trail, and braved lightning storms on balds. I’ve eaten more mashed potatoes than most people consume in a lifetime and tuna… Don’t get me started on tuna. I regret nothing. I love everything.
A thru hiker is someone that completes the trail in less than a year. My hike will be a little over year. Regardless of what anyone says, in my mind I’ll be a thru hiker.
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