Raw and Real and Rugged Maine
I celebrated the day I finished the White Mountains of New Hampshire. I ate a whole pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream. By myself. No shame.
Guess what I learned afterward?
(Hint: it has nothing to do with ice cream)
The hardest part of the Trail is yet to come: Southern Maine.
I thought I just finished the hardest part!
It was an emotional blow, to be sure. Because the Whites were indeed hard. Steep, rocky, seemingly unending climbs. Rocks upon rocks upon rocks. Weather. And now it gets harder.
But slowly I have been making my way through the rugged mountains of southern Maine (or western Maine, as a gentleman from southern Maine corrected me). I have been slowed down yet again, which is slightly maddening because I am ready to be done with this half of the Trail and go home for a week to recharge.
This drive has led to a tough week emotionally. But a few nights ago I was privileged to share conversation with Milkshakes, a SOBO, and Brenda, a section hiker. We related our experiences on the Trail and shared how God leads us and keeps us going. It was refreshing to find someone who could relate to my journey of faith out here and I was encouraged. I found out that I’m not the only one struggling, and that in itself is a morale booster. I’m not the only one who thinks about going home, about leaving the Trail. I am not the only one relying on God to carry me through this.
That is an amazing part of hiking this Trail: you meet someone and five minutes later you can have a personal, meaningful conversation about life. Everything out here is so raw and real; we can’t help but be real, too. (Okay, being covered in mud, smelling like you haven’t showered in a month, and wearing the same clothes you’ve been wearing for 900 miles might have something to do with it, too.)
It is hard out here. Many people call me “strong” for being out here. To be honest, most days I don’t feel strong. I am tired, sore, and the 0.2 mile walk to the privy or to get water seems like 2 miles. I go to bed knowing that in the morning another mountain is going to try to whup my butt. It is hard to wake up and face that. But God is strong; He’s never failed me, and He won’t start now. And so I won’t quit, even though I think about it and sometimes wish it was that easy.
Tomorrow I climb the last significantly difficult mountains of Maine until Katahdin. I might cry with relief when I get to the shelter tomorrow evening.
Until then, I’m out here in rugged Maine, keeping it real.
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