Saying Goodbye to the AT (For now!)
(I feel like I could call you guys that now, haha).
Anyway last Saturday I stepped off the Appalachian Trail at mile 309 and started walking towards a town called Erwin, via a state highway. The hostel I’d intended to stay at that night was closed for the season, so I was left without a place to stay or a ride. My best option was to start walking down the road towards Erwin. So I did.
I ended up hitching into Erwin and by that evening I was at a hostel with a warm bed to sleep in, running water at my disposal, and all the food I could ever want. It was a weird knowing it was all over, even if just for the winter, and that I’d have all these comforts for another two months.
The next morning I slipped outside before light and I watched the sunrise. As I sat there in the half light I thought about how I and the girl who started the trail one month ago were two different people. The trail really had changed me, perhaps in more ways than I could even perceive, and I felt the weight of that change in those moments. The trail had given me a new identity.
Which brings me to my trail name, which I’ve been promising to reveal:
People seem to think that’s a weird name for an eighteen year old girl, but honestly that’s the point: people told me I acted older than I was from my first day on trail, and they kept saying it until my last. As someone pointed out to me on trail: it’s not about my chronological age but about my outlook, my attitude, and, well… my soul. I hope that makes sense.
So I started the trail as Eliza but that day the sun rose on Old Soul.
It was a cool moment.
After that things moved pretty fast. I packed my things, and my ride arrived a few hours later. My adventure was over, and I was going home, left only with memories and a ravenous appetite that’s only just now beginning to level out.
And that was the end of my hike! Of course there is so much more I could tell about my month than what I have published here, but perhaps that’s good: it leaves more to be explored later.
I want to extend all my gratitude and appreciation to everyone (there were many!) who gave me food or rides or even just made a fire while I was in the vicinity. For those of you who are reading and fall into that category: I really, truly appreciate your help.
I’ll be back on trail sometime in February to finish the AT and, of course, I will document all that here. If you want updates in the meantime I will be maintaining my personal blog, so feel free to check that out! Otherwise, I’ll see you all in February.
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