To My Unexpected Hiking Partners
I set out from Neel Gap February 29th after my initial 3 day stent on the trail earlier that month. I wanted to hike the Appalachian trail by myself. I wanted to walk without relying on others or letting someone else dictate my hike.
Or at least that’s what I thought I wanted.
My first day I met Stan and Dill.
To be honest, I didn’t imagine hiking more than a few days with them.
I was ready to embrace the unknown…solo.
At the Top of Georgia Hostel, I put on panty hose to keep me warm while hiking the next day. I made some dumb joke about hoping that “these $2 hose would serve me well”. I think both girls laughed until they cried. After that, I kinda had an inkling that I’d be around them for awhile.
Lo and behold, 3 months later, I ended up hiking with Dill until Hamburg, PA. (Stan got off trail at an earlier time).
Dill and I parted ways when I went home for my brothers graduation. I didn’t really think about it as a goodbye. I thought for sure I’d catch up with her. When I got back, I realized that a week and a half off of the trail puts some major distance between two people.
I waited at Delaware Water Gap for Pen-Dexter and Oh Yeah to catch up after I got back on trail. Pen-Dexter joined forces with Dill and I back at Overmountain shelter in North Carolina. But when Oh Yeah started in Harper’s Ferry to finish off the last section of the trail with his brother, they fell behind Dill and I.
So, when it’s all said and done, I will have hiked 1,200 miles with Dill, 900 miles with Oh Yeah, and 1,500 miles with Pen-Dexter.
Here’s what I have to say to them..
Your clumsiness is endearing.
Thank you for laughing even when you would trip and fall on your ankle for the 3rd time in a day. Your good attitude was the only thing that kept me going some days.
Thank you for complaining with me and knowing we were never serious about hating the Appalachian Trail.
I will forever think of you and Stan when I hear Katy Perry’s “this is how we do” and a few other songs..
Some of your phrases will be part of my lingo for the rest of my life.
“It’s a good day to have a good day” and “you dig a hole….” for example.
I’ll always remember this random moment in Georgia when you and I got so excited about a good view. You’re just as passionate as me when it comes to mountains.
You are one of my best friends and I am so proud of you for finishing. I’m super sad I didn’t get to summit with you, but I know I will see you again some day.
When you laugh and are in a good mood, I can’t help but be stupidly happy. You may pick on me a bit , but I deserve it. I “lose” too many things and definitely repeat myself daily. It feels like I’m hiking with my own brother. You’ve become such a strong hiker that I forget most of the time you started in Harper’s Ferry.
Thank you for putting up with me and my loudness, grossness, and all together weirdness.
I will miss you.
Thank you for getting my food bag every morning so our group could have “breakfast in bag”. You have been my alarm clock, my emotional support, and one of my best friends for 4 months.
You’ve been such a good leader to our group that I have no doubt in my mind that you will be an excellent pastor. Any church that you end up at will be more than blessed to have you. While you may feel sometimes that you stumble spiritually, you’ve brought me closer in my relationship with God.
You’ll only be 0.9 miles away from me in St Louis… But ,I’ll still miss seeing you every day.
Even to those that haven’t hiked with me for as long as these three.. Thank you for changing my life.
I learned that I am whole. I don’t need to rely on someone else for my happiness. I didn’t need to be alone in the wilderness for 5 months to discover this. I had three awesome friends that made my hike amazing… & I wouldn’t trade my experience for the world.
One week left on the trail and I’m definitely in denial.
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