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.

Wait, what?

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.

View on Saddleback Mountain

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.

Keeping it real with my flat vulture, too.

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Comments 6

  • mom meixner : Jul 5th

    You are amazing… grace is abundant in the words you share, and I am filled with so many feelings as we hear your tales. From love to pride to fear to hope to what a wonderful daughter and I am so blessed! … and I am just waiting to give you a hug! You are 2 weeks from home!!! Praying for you as you get to Bigelow… the photos make me wish I was there! Keep it real…up on the mountain! Love you!

    Reply
  • Gary Stell : Jul 6th

    Great post! Keep the faith sister! 😎

    Reply
  • Dave Michel aka Pitchit : Jul 9th

    I’m a 2016 NOBO. I was surprised a bit by NY, and big time by south Maine. Knew about! Mahoosuch Notch, but not what came after. Thanks for giving g future hikers a heads up! Hang I there.

    Reply
  • John L : Jul 9th

    Finish strong, sister!

    Reply
  • Bob Meixner : Jul 9th

    Finally … something I can do in solidarity. Eat a whole pint of Ben and Jerry’s! No problem. Not sure I’ll learn anything, but I’m so there for you. Don’t know if you got to see the pictures that Madeline put up of the black vultures that have been hanging out in out back yard. (Sometimes I think they are waiting around for me to die.) I named them Johnny Cash, June Carter, and Darth. They seem to be a family as Darth is a juvenile and June still feeds him even though he is as big as she is. Other than that bit of idle speculation though I couldn’t tell the gender of any of them to save my life. They’re fun though and they’ll let me get quite close when I’m out walking Bean before they fly up into a dead tree and watch me from a distance. Your journey has been pretty amazing so far. We’re really enjoying hearing about it.

    Unca Bob

    Reply
    • Mary : Jul 10th

      I did see the pictures! Love that you have named them!

      Reply

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