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I wrote a post (Blog Entry) on Sunday, 6.4.17 (Knowing I would have no chance on Monday) … I hit post and my l-o-n-g entry disappeared 🙁 So today, June 6th, I will try to re-cap and bring you up to date on my adventure.
A day of dread and a day for new beginnings.
Tomorrow will make the 1st anniversary of my husband’s passing. I both dread this day and look forward to a new beginning for myself. My husband (Charlie) was the one person that gave me the self-confidence to do this trek. He said, “If anyone can do this, you can.” We had planned to do it together and then he got sick (Stage 4 Metastatic Melanoma). While he was sick we talked at length about equipment, the challenges, and the risks I would take. His support means the world to me.
The 5th, of every month, brings extra tears. I planned my hike for the 5th to give me something to celebrate … something to feel good about … some else significance on this date other than the death of my husband. I will always celebrate my husband, he will always be with me, I will love him until the day I die Death doesn’t steal that from you … but it steals so much more! My life.
So tomorrow, June 5th I will take back what death stole and begin a new day, a new celebration, a new beginning.
Here I come Katahdin Summit!
A van load of SOBO thru hikers piled into a van … some tired from lack of sleep, some feeling nauseated, all quiet … all because of the anxiously anticipated the summit ahead.
I had watch plenty of videos, read blogs, talked to several friends that had completed the AT … I took a class … I did all I could to prepare for this summit. There is NO preparing!! The weather, the wind gusts, the fog, the climb, the heights! I’m a fast walker … I did great … I began to move above tree line, I thought to myself, I got this … I’m more that halfway there. I kept going, the edges of the mountain moved closer in … leaving me feeling like if one strong wind hit, I’d be blown off the mountain, but I kept going. I pushed myself even when I wanted to go back down. I kept telling myself, “everyone else is doing it, you’re just scare and fear doesn’t kill anyone.” So I pushed on. I crawled, I slid on my belly, I slid on my butt, I rolled … what ever it took to get to the next level and keep heading for the summit. The higher I went, the more I realized, what goes up must come down … it scared me to death! Now let the winds gust harder, the fog roll in, see someone almost slip and fall OFF the mountain side … I was leaving that mountain! If you look at a picture of Katahdin, you’ll see the highest peak … that’s where the sign is that everyone takes their picture. You then see a long dip ( flat but rocky area) and then you see a little lower peak. I was one climb below that peak. I had one more steep climb … 200 more feet to the top and I would have been able to summit. But I couldn’t do it … I thought if I was even able to get the rest of the way up, I’d never be able to get down. I wanted a group to help me down … three hikers said they’d get me down. And they did … quick and easy. I was so mad at myself … coming down was fast, not scary, and easy. I wished I pushed on.
I spoke to the group I was decending with about my disappointment and my regrets. I talk to several other hikers … each said the same thing … “Hike your own hike” … “You did the technical part, you did it close enough.” I just couldn’t shake the feeling, “But I didn’t summit.” One of the hikers asked if I was going to quit. I said I’m going to become the first No-Mountains Thru Hiker … No, I’m not quitting!
So I began to try to figure out how to get back to Katahdin to summit. I couldn’t stay an extra day due to food constraints and because I buddied-up ( my summit partner said I made the right decision to decend when I did, it started to rain right after I left and it was scary for him, an experienced climber). Together we decide we’d hike the 100 mile wilderness and once I reached Monson, Maine, I’d rent a car, drive back to Katahdin, summit ( or at the least, attempt it again) and then drive back to Monson.
I woke up cold … I don’t like cold! I woke up sore, bruised, skinned up, and blistered … and yet ready to hit the trail. We had a plan and we were ready to accomplaish it. So we dressed, ate, packed and headed out to hike the trail.
It was beautiful, hard, hot, wet, scary and fun. But we were exhausted and our aches and pains made it even that more difficult. We talked about our why (we each were doing this crazy hike), what would happen if we quit, what we planned to do after the hike. We knew to never stop on a bad day. We talked about our future plans, our desires, our life (Sully (trail name) is 23). I told him I must be crazy cause I’m a beach girl taking a long walk in the woods. That I’ve spent years trying to get back to FL and now here I am in the woods for 6months (I must be crazy).
I fell while crossing a river (waste down soaked) and kept going, Sully had blisters on his shoulders from his pack, we kept going, both of us had blistered feet, we kept going. We kept going and going and going but we never seem to get to our next camp site. After 12.5 miles of hiking we hit a road and decided that if we saw a car, we’re flagging it down and begging for a ride to town. We stunk, our bodies were aching and our feet felt like chopped meat. Of course we never expected to see a car on this old logging road. So we kept walking. Not 5 minutes later, a beautiful blue car came towards us. Without thinking and believing we’d not see another, we waved until the car stopped.
Doug, the car’s owner, was happy to give us a ride … and he did right back to Millinocket. Yea US!! We were happy and relieved.
Are we quitting… not just yet. The plan is to take a zero day … rest and heal. I will go back to Katahdin and attempt to summit again on 6.9. We’ll rest again and make the decision as to whether we go back to the Abol area where we left off and continue.
We’ve learned a lot in past two days, we’ve accomplished a lot, too. Maybe not everything we wanted, but we’re proud of our successes thus far. The question now is … is this what we really want. Will this adventure be as fulfilling as we imagined. We definitely have some soul searching to do. We won’t quit … but we my change our minds.
Keep you posted!
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Your story touched me, Major League, because my story is very similar. A year ago I lost my husband three weeks after his diagnosis of a metastatic neuroendocrine cancer of unknown origin. My dread day is the 9th of every month. We shared 44 years of wonderful memories. You and I both know how hard it is to pick yourself up and start a ‘new’ life, so I applaud you! You are out there and trying! May all your hiking dreams come true!