The Tale of a Dead Eye Southbounder

Honesty hour with Pringles.

It’s funny because for so many mornings I have woken up next to Mojo (the best hiking friend in the entire world), and said, “I don’t want to walk anymore trail.” We giggle because we secretly know that we don’t truly want to go home, but every single morning my body aches, my hands are frozen, and I think about how easy it would be to go home and just watch Netflix all week. I won’t lie; I’ve been doing bigger days lately because I truly am to the point in my hike where I just simply want to get home. With less than 500 miles to go, I think I have become a “dead eye Northbounder.”

Back in Vermont (where NOBOs get to their 500 miles to go point), we (SOBOs) would laugh at how every Northbound hiker was like a deer in headlights, they didn’t talk much, they didn’t have much to say about their journey except, “it’s been good”, and they just seemed like they weren’t in love with the AT anymore. Now, this wasn’t every hiker, but it was indeed a good bit of them.

Well, I have become a dead eye Southbounder. I have my eyes on the prize (a sign atop Springer Mountain), and I don’t want anything or anyone to get in my way. I no longer want to talk with day hikers on the side of the trail. I want to push, push, push, because I have 25 miles to do that day. I no longer want to sit at a view for two hours because it gets dark at 7pm. I no longer want to drink in town because I know that I have a long day ahead of me. This might sound like I no longer enjoy the trail, but I promise that’s not what it is. I’ve lived in the woods for nearly 5 months. I’ve changed. I no longer enjoy many things that I used to on this trail. I enjoy doing big miles. I enjoy walking all day. I enjoy knowing that in a few short weeks, I will be home in time to spend the holidays with family. This journey will soon be coming to a close, and I am okay with that.

I know I will miss this lifestyle. I know I will have post trail depression. I know that I will sit around for a week and then want to go back to the woods. But for now, I just want to get home. Not go home. Get home. I will walk the miles that remain. And I will enjoy the hell out of it. I just have a different perspective than I did a few months ago. I’m not choosing smiles or miles. I’m choosing both. The miles make me smile. *cheesy, I know.*

Cheers to the past 1,700 miles. It’s been the absolute time of my life. I feel beyond blessed to have had this opportunity, and I do not take one day for granted. This worn out hiker is just ready to kiss the sign on Springer.


Instagram: @ashschellhase

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