An Unexpected New Route to Katahdin

Ah, my friends, stuff happens. All the carefully laid out plans must sometimes change. That’s life and one must accept it and continue on in a new direction

Quite simply, I have now called an end to my hiking adventure on the Appalachian Trail. Even with the encouragement of all your emails and comments and the help of my fine trail partner, Freeman, I am 100% sure that it is time for me to get off the trail.

Why now?  I only have about 10% of the trail left, and the final 100+ miles are relatively easy (well, “Maine easy,”  according to the new standards up here), with the exception of the ten miles up and down the final triumphal challenge, Katahdin.  I have supposedly already tackled the grand majority of the hardest sections in NH and ME. These legs have taken me 1,935 of the 2,192 miles of the present length of the Appalachian Trail.

I never could have done the famed one-mile length of massive boulders, Mahoosuc Notch, without the help and support of these fellow hikers/victims.

Sure, I can smile for the camera, but I was SOOO happy when we finally emerged from this one-mile length of chaotic boulders after three hours.  Some folks enjoy the challenge.  I got through it.

 

My primary goal has now changed. It is no longer to experience every mile of the AT.  It is to enjoy this grand adventure without permanently disabling my body.  All the previous pleasure has recently been replaced by fear and pain.  Although the younger, stronger crowd might disagree with me, I am firmly convinced that much of the trail in these last two states is frighteningly dangerous for many hikers.  At times, when scrambling up steep boulder beds or smooth slabs of stone as I pull myself up with branches or roots, I have felt very much at risk of falling and breaking something. This is not the kind of hiking experience I enjoy at all.

Slamming down these boulders, which sometimes is the only way, is one of the worst things I can do for my vertebrae.  Try doing it multiple  times a day, every day.

I feel like I am betraying the upbeat optimism of the other bloggers on this fine website, thetrek.co. But this is the truth as it applies to me.

I am a 66-year-old who has demanded a lot of my body the past several decades.  I have run over 50 marathons and ultramarathons; done six triathlons, including a half Ironman; cycled across the US, north to south, west to east; climbed Fuji twice, Kilimanjaro, once; hiked solo 1,500 miles in Europe from the North Sea to the Mediterranean; trekked in Patagonia and the Himalaya; dog sledded five days in the Arctic Circle; and, last but not least, further back in the past,  had two babies by natural childbirth, with no anesthesia (and you owe me big time, Becky and Jon!).  Before you sneer, men, you try it someday and then come talk to me.

So I’m no slouch.  This is literally the first big endeavor I’ve ever begun and not completed.  But I don’t consider it “dropping out.”  It’s just doing the right thing for my present and future health and well being.

Why now?  Why not continue to dig deep, as I have the past three weeks, and “Just Do It?”

Because I value my body.  I want to preserve it and walk upright the rest of my life, and I’m not kidding about this.  I began this trip with lumbar stenosis (pinched nerves in the spinal column that cause weakness, pain, and numbness in the lower body); scoliosis (a spine that curves sideways and throws things off kilter, notably the right hip);  and good old arthritis. As I continue in this journey, I find the right side of my lower body drastically weakening and degenerating, with continual pain in multiple areas of my body. I know the majority of long-distance hikers attempt to valiantly push through pain.  However, I can tell the difference between temporary discomfort and true pain that indicates a possibility of long-term damage.  I choose to not be valiant.

Do I want to be able to continue to enjoy an active life and the great out-of-doors? Of course.  Push a shopping cart in the supermarket by choice, not because of the physical need of support?  Yes.  Be able to play actively with my beloved granddaughters?    Most definitely.   Show my love to my husband? You’re darned sure. I’m not going to let the false pride of achieving a previously stated goal at any cost put my health at permanent risk.

I have now hiked in all 14 states of the Appalachian Trail, from Maine to Georgia.

I am proud.  I am strong.  And I’m determined to protect this body that has served me so well as I continue in my active life.

 

So, in what direction will I move?  Here’s where a wonderfully surprising twist in the saga appears.

I promised Freeman we would go to Katahdin together.  And we will.  However, he will be hiking solo and I will be his linguistic aide and road support crew.  After a restorative nero and zero at the homey Pine Ellis Hostel in tiny Andover, ME, I have begun my new role with pleasure.  I have booked our next hostel for three days from now, have picked up a rental car in a nearby town, and am now his shuttle driver.  Our goal is for him to slackpack as much as possible, for comfort and speed.  I will drop him off at a trailhead, with a new lightweight daypack on his back and his heavy pack with tent, etc., in the car.  At the end of the day at a predetermined trail/road crossing, perhaps 12-15 miles farther on, I will wait in the comfort of my car, with a detailed road atlas of Maine, a good book, my own snacks and drink, and an ice blue Gatorade on ice, my hiker’s favorite recovery drink.  Then off we will drive to the comfort of beds in a hostel, returning to the same trailhead the next morning for more northerly progress.

Some hardcore backpackers might sneer at slackpacking and so many comfortable beds. Let them.  It’s our hike.  We like it, we do it. He’s hiking under his own power to Katahdin.

Today Freeman already proved that he could cover more ground without a fearful, cautious partner by his side.  I’m excited for him in how much progress he will make.  He has a family wedding in Switzerland that he will attend in mid-September. There will now be absolutely no problem achieving this time goal.

As for me, I’m once again singing along with Pandora radio as I do my morning yoga.  The tears are all done.  An excellent sermon at a dear Congregational church this past Sunday morning confirmed my conviction that this is the right thing to do.

I love to help others and also to plan and see plans to fruition.  This achieves all of that.

So, “Don’t Cry for Me, Argentina.”   It’s crazy how life goes.   I am energized, excited, and relieved that the pain and fear are ending but the adventure continues.  The rewards of helping my friend and trail partner reach Katahdin have already begun.

Although shuttling for Freeman will keep me on my toes, I’m already finding a bit more time to relax and enjoy Maine in new ways.

And after all this?  I will always have a love for staying physically active.  My plan the past half year has been to head in a very different direction from backpacking:  Pilates teacher training.  The past six+ years I have enjoyed and benefited from twice-weekly private sessions with Myra, a dear friend and exceptional, perceptive instructor.

I want to fully understand and embrace this method, which I have found to be the most positive thing I’ve done for my body.  Will I teach, after I receive certification?  We shall see where life leads me.  I know now that  I will be led in the direction best for me at this point in my life.

Thank you, friends, family, readers, for being my support team.  Celebrate with me as this adventure follows an unexpected, exciting new blue blaze, fulfilling in a very different way than originally planned.  Stay tuned for the final installment in a few weeks,  when we all cheer for my Swiss friend as he achieves the peak of his Appalachian Trail adventure.

 

 

 

 

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Comments 57

  • Albert Halsey : Aug 13th

    Ruth,
    You should be proud of your accomplishment on the AT. I am also 66 years old and can’t imagine even attempting to do the AT.
    I’ve truly enjoyed watching your posts and the wonderful pics. Been following your posts since your start and always looked forward to your delightful words from your adventure. You’ve been a blessing to many old folks like me rooting for you.
    May God bless you in your future adventures, Albert

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      Albert, your comment is very touching. I thank you. It’s extremely satisfying to represent and reach others in my age group. The physical and emotional demands of this trek have been extreme for me, but the rewards are increasing twofold as I help others and see the Maine from a different (gentler!) perspective.

      Thank you for following me through the years. I’m not done yet!

      Reply
    • Marie Gadpaille : Aug 15th

      Congratulations to you! No apologies to anyone necessary. You’re an inspiration to me!

      Reply
      • Wendi : Aug 16th

        You are woman hear you roar!!! You are an inspiration. If you get a chance the hike to chimney pond is very doable and the most breathtaking views and the most peaceful and serene place I have been to. You don’t have to summit Katahdin to feel her power! Good luck in your new journey!

        Reply
  • Shocktop : Aug 13th

    Ruth, Chocoholic! You rock. You are being true to yourself. We must, I believe, as I strive to every second of every day, really, hike our own hike. (Applies even when employed, indoors, lol.)
    Love to you in all you do, and thanks.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      Thank you as always, Shocktop! It’s hard not to get caught up in trying to pushing on despite the body, mind and spirit crying out to stop. Thankfully, when awakening on the morning of my final day on the trail,I knew with a calm and clear head that this was it. But I’ve gotta admit my tears flowed when I stopped Freeman mid-trail and told him. By dinner, though, the rest of the plan had come to me (revealed to me by a Greater Power who knows what’s best for me?), and all’s very good now.

      Reply
  • Deb Gay : Aug 14th

    When one becomes fixated on a goal for it’s own sake, the joy leeches out of the journey. Good for you, recognizing that the goal would come at too great and permanent cost. Here’s to many more years of joyful, productive life!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      So very well said, Deb! Thank you. I’ll be contacting you to help write future posts! 🙂

      Reply
  • Grateful : Aug 14th

    I am so unbelievably proud of you and astounded by your strength and accomplishments throughout your life. Your story speaks with transparency and honesty and allows folks to hear yet another version of a true thru hike. 💜Grateful

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      Grateful, your message touched me dearly. Thank you for it. I was honored to work through Mahoosic Notch with you and the others as part of the team of five. Congratulations wholeheartedly for finishing up the final section the complete trail. I am very impressed, especially now that I’ve seen nearly all of what you have traversed.

      I’m so glad we met and were able to share time together in this amazing journey and as sisters in this community of backpackers. .

      Reply
  • Jon : Aug 14th

    Hard-earned and heartfelt. Best post yet!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      I appreciate that. I can’t be anything but honest, and I’m glad people are receptive to that.

      Reply
  • Becky Schneider : Aug 14th

    I agree with Jon. You had me in tears. You made an intentional, wise, well thought out decision. I’m so glad you can pay it forward and help Freeman while at the same time resting and recovering. You earned the right to sit back and enjoy Maine after hiking all the way from Georgia! Amazing accomplishment.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      Thank you, dear daughter. I’m truly enjoying this next phase of the adventure. During my 24 hours of possessing the SUV (happily, the vehicle Enterprise rented to me at compact car price), I have given lifts to 8 other backpackers. This Trail Magic business is fun!

      Reply
  • Janice Brinson : Aug 14th

    Aw, girl, I love your posts and your heart and your strength and your optimism and your basic good sense! I will miss your posts terribly ~ they are the best of the best on thetrek. Wish I knew you personally. Know that you are very highly regarded and prayed for as you continue to enjoy what God has in store for your future. Thank you for all of your posts. Godspeed!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      Boy, Janice, you sure know how make a person feel special! Thank you so much for your support. I’m really glad I chose to post my blogs on thetrek.co. I too have enjoyed following certain bloggers, through their ups and downs. So it goes.

      Again, thank you! I’m not done yet. Stay tuned.

      Reply
  • Joe Gonzalez : Aug 14th

    Thank you so much for sharing Ruth, you’ve opened up inspiration for new exploration.

    I had the fortunate opportunity to meet you on the AT as you were filling up at the Liberty Springs watering hole, just shy of Mt Liberty. I had been out for a weekend hike to experience the Pemi Loop and the wonderful scenery at the end of July. Both days proved to be clear skies even though the forecast was calling for lightning on Sunday.

    If I had to describe you on the trail, it would have been strong willed and friendly. Throughout the day I was able to walk along with you for a time. Your steady pace and energy surpassed mine, because each time I thought I’d wish you farewell, you’d be passing me as I stopped for a break. Lol!

    Even though it seems contrary to others, you can meet interesting people on the trail. I had also met another solo hiker on the AT since March. He was taking sometime off to get away from the Rat race.

    You’ve gone the extra mile and people know this. You’ve shared and allowed for a better life experience. Thank you!

    PS I’m going to check out the DIY gear. I had no idea, and enjoy all of it. In 2 weeks I’m bringing my kids to the same watering hole for an overnight experience and giving them the opportunity to see the white mountains majesty.

    Enjoy!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 14th

      Joe, this completely makes my day to hear from you! I most definitely remember our time slowly making our way, step by laborious step, up towards Franconia Ridge. And I have to admit with a smile that it did make this grandma in her mid-60’s feel kind of cocky as she wished you well as she slowly trudged past a former (and always) Navy Seal, right? Forgive me for the pride. 🙂 One will take any source of energy that presents itself in times like that.

      I hope that you enjoyed your completion of the Pemi Loop. It’s quite a challenge! And may you enjoy returning to the “scene of the crime” with your children.

      My homemade gear is from kits you can find at rayjardine.com. I especially enjoy sleeping under my tarp and bug net tent. Those who want ultralight backpacks without hipbelts, his designs can’t be beat, at around 10 ounces and excellent, durable materials. His kits for synthetic sleeping quilts are also fine. I especially like the light and medium weight versions.

      Happy trails, Joe!

      Reply
  • Kelly : Aug 14th

    There is no shame in calling it. You will have a healthy, strong body to enjoy other hikes and the rest of the things you love to do! I know this couldn’t have been an easy decision but for you, it was the right one. Haven’t followed your journey but am going to go back and get caught up now, because I believe it is the unexpected journeys that mean the most.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Kelly, I really like the way you put it about unexpected journeys being the most meaningful. Wouldn’t it be dull if we could plan out every detail of our lives? I was actually grateful today that it has all unfolded in this manner. Im glad you found my blog. I hope you enjoy my other posts.

      Reply
  • Cheri : Aug 14th

    I’ve said this before and will continue to say it. Regarding slack packing, how does a person get less credit because of it? Does the person who carries a 10 pound pack get less credit than a person who carries a 35 pound pack? Slack pack Freeman and don’t worry what others say.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Cheri, you’re so right. I think hikers are just sensitive in different areas, and don’t appreciate others judging them. If Freeman’s backpack weight was always 10 pounds, he’d be called ultralight and greatly admired by many. If he’s slackpacking with a 10 pound pack, there are some who would feel he was cheating somehow.

      I must repeat the often repeated phrase, “Hike your own hike.” (HYOH). Do you think Benton McKaye, who originated the idea of the AT, wrote out a list of do’s and don’ts for hiking the trail in an authentic manner? I think not.

      We apologize to no one. We are enjoying ourselves. For our dinner tonight, I have a mini bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon and for Freeman, a container of HaagenDaz chocolate ice cream. These will accompany our self-grilled rib eye, after a day of hiking 16 tough miles for him and, for me, shuttling both him and other hikers later on to the trail.

      Reply
  • James : Aug 14th

    Ruth you have done much more than most. One has to know their body and honestly go with it. I enjoyed your writing. I salute you.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      I thank you very much James. Everyone’s affirmative comments have reinforced that its the right thing for me.

      Reply
  • Val Prevish : Aug 14th

    Anyone who knows you, Ruth, would never, ever, ever call you a slouch. 🙂 You are one of the most adventuresome and hardest working athletes I know. Way to go on your AT trek. As far as I’m concerned, you completed the trail! If can do half as well as you did someday on this hike, I’d be extremely pleased with my performance.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Val, I know you’ll do well. You’ve just got to want it very, very much, and be willing to continue pursuing it until you either achieve your initial goal or thoughtfully make the appropriate adjustments.

      I thought of you often when on Mt. Washington, knowing you had climbed it. In fact, I took warm gloves and a fleece cap, remembering you had said it was very cold when you were there. I didn’t use them, so thanks a lot, buddy, for those extra ounces I needlessly carried! Just kidding, but let’s talk later about how you can make it up to me at a snack stop during a future Babes’ Saturday bike ride together. 🙂

      Reply
  • Sherry Weckenbrock : Aug 14th

    Ruth, you are truly amazing and have been through this entire adventure! You are such an inspiration to the rest of us with your strength, determination, courage and wisdom! I know what an extremely difficult decision this was for you, how long you pondered what to do, how much you wanted to reach your original goal, how tough you are mentally and physically and how strong you are in the face of disappointment. All you have accomplished is so awe inspiring but making this decision and coming out so positively with a new goal, a new purpose, the ability to adapt and to see so clearly the right choice for you, that is even more awe inspiring!!! You have seen so much, done so much, experienced so much, shred so much with all of us and now we can’t wait to welcome you home and hear all about your ventures in person. I have so enjoyed following your blogs and hope you continue to write every now and then! Rest up and enjoy the remainder of your incredible journey to the fullest!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Sherry, you have always supported me so wholeheartedly both in our work with Cincinnati Children’s Hospital’s Kindervelt and in my AT adventure. I thank you for this! You’ve bolstered my self confidence when it needed help. My head’s reeling and tears flowing (a recently frequent occurrence) from all your kind words. I will try to get my ego in check before I return to Cincinnati in a few weeks. 🙂

      Thank you, friend. I look forward to seeing you again.

      Reply
  • Jodee : Aug 14th

    Your optimism and adaptability are even more amazing (and more beneficial) than your physical strength and determination!
    Having “powered through” hip pain until it was way past time to have it replaced, I commend you for having the wisdom to sto and redirect your goals and enthusiasm.

    What an amazing and wonderful adventure you have had and SHARED with all of us! Thank you!
    (And congrats on your next adventure! I might be one of your first students…if I can afford you 😊)

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Jodee, what a very kind comment. I had to smile at the “affording” part. While my intentions are good, my occasional forgetfulness will probably help create some bizarre workouts, not worthy of payment. But we’d definitely enjoy ourselves and get some sort of physical benefits.

      See you before too long.

      Reply
  • Cheryl Albrecht : Aug 14th

    I am very excited for you and look forward to seeing you follow your new blue blaze!! You are amazing and inspirational in all that you do!!
    Love and Peace,
    Cheryl

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Thank you, Cheryl. When writing the past post about blue blazes, I never imagined that I’d have the occasion to follow this exciting new direction! One cool thing is that it is helping me bring a very positive, fulfilling closure to this epic journey, and ease back into Real Life. No more unidentifiable particles floating in my water bottles or crushed leaves found in my sports bra. I’m one step closer to being reunited with my Sonicare electric toothbrush!

      Reply
  • Hawk : Aug 14th

    Ruth:
    I had to cut my 2018 attempt much shorter than yours for much the same reason. A part of me wants to encourage you to finish but I’ve been there and I know roughly the process that led you to your decision and have faith that your decision is the right one. I only made it 800 miles but every one of those miles were a gift that I will remember for the rest of my life. I trust that you will find the same joy in the memories you have, and the satisfaction of still having done something absolutely remarkable.
    Hawk

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Hawk, how meaningful your comment is to me, since you understand exactly what I have experienced. I was truly grateful for every day and never wished I wasn’t on the trail, until the past few weeks. Even when it was sleeting and wind howling in the Smokies, I hated the weather but was still grateful for having the opportunity to do what I was doing.

      As Kenny Rogers sang, “You’ve got to know when to hold ‘em, know when to fold ‘em.” I’m going to finish out this hand by the altered game plan, say, “Thank you so very much”, and move on to the next.

      Reply
  • Julia Kinlaw : Aug 15th

    Ruth, we are with you heart and soul. Enjoy your new role that protects your health, for that is everything, while you enable your wonderful friend. Julia

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Thank you, my friend. I feel so fortunate. This is even better closure than hiking.

      Reply
  • Julia Kinlaw : Aug 15th

    Dear Ruth, We are with you heart and soul. Enjoy your new role as you protect your health, for that is everything, and help your dear partner in his quest.

    Reply
  • Cynthia Smith : Aug 15th

    You are making the right decision. I applaud you. Sometimes pushing through is simply foolish.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      You’re so right, Cynthia. It has only taken me 66 years to learn this. Thanks for being with me through the whole journey.

      Reply
  • Josh Johnson : Aug 15th

    Your accomplishments and the mileage you logged (the memories made) are definitely nothing to sneer at! I’m glad you feel accomplished – as you should. I hope one day you feel like it’s the right thing to fill in those last miles, but if not the trade offs you mentioned are well worth letting them go. Cheers to your hike and the all the life happenings you will enjoy for taking care of your body.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Actually, even though I’ve said I won’t ever do those miles, I also realize it’s good advice to “never say never.” Let’s just say this is how the adventure is unfolding at the present time. Thank you, Josh.

      Reply
  • Jennifer Selzer : Aug 15th

    Thank you for your post and sharing your AT experience. Your authenticity and honesty are evident, and I enjoyed following your journey. I thru-hiked last year as I turned 50, and completely agree with your assessment of “Maine miles” being more difficult than any other miles. I believe all AT hikers dig deep in Maine and Hike Your Own Hike becomes much more than the off-handed dismissal for doing anything differently. Congratulations on a fabulous adventure! I am working at the AT Cafe in Millinocket this season, and would love to meet you as you make your way to Katahdin.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 15th

      Wow, Jennifer, I’d love to meet you in person. I’ll make my best effort to connect with you when we’re there. I hadn’t thought of Hike Your Own Hike in quite that way (offhand dismissal), but you’re so right. I’m seeing folks skip entire chunks of the trail up here in Maine (such as, yours truly), and that’s fine by me. We’re doing this for our pleasure, not fear. We make it our own unique experience.

      Thanks for the comment.

      Reply
  • Clarissa : Aug 15th

    Wow!Congratulations on your many accomplishments and the beautiful people you met along the AT. Enjoy your remaining journey and some good rest time.
    Clarissa
    “Success is a journey, not a destination”. Arthur Ashe

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 16th

      Hi,Clarissa! So good to hear from you. I truly am enjoying all the amazing people I’m meeting and the time exploring Maine in a whole new way. Still waiting to see a moose. I have told Freeman that I now believe there are no moose in Maine. It’s simply a promotion to entice the tourists here (of course, a much simpler explanation was given). The postcards are all fake. 🙂

      It’s a joy to be of assistance to others. As you so well know.

      However, I’m also ready to be back in the neighborhood. It will feel comforting after being gone 4 months.

      Reply
  • Kristen Fiedler : Aug 16th

    Good for you! When I started my thru-hike this year I was so purist-y and on my hike I learned the real meaning of “hike your own hike.” You’re a rockstar!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 20th

      Kristen, thank you for your comment. I know many of us start our hikes with high goals for ourselves and preconceived ideas of what constitutes a “real” hike. But, as you say, we eventually learn it’s not all black and white. What works for us today may not be right tomorrow. And hopefully it helps us avoid being judgmental of others and their individual choices and experiences.

      This “Hike your own hike” might seem trite in the beginning, but it can hold a much deeper meaning with each new experience we have.

      Hey, I’m thinking I’m seeing a parallel in parenthood and life in general! There sure are a lot of lessons we can learn from both the good days and the bad on the trail….

      Reply
  • Stephanie : Aug 16th

    The inability to be flexible in our “plans” is so crippling. Congratulations to you for listening to your body and understanding that your journey was in the experience. Some of my most rewarding and memorable events in my life have been due to a sudden change in itinerary and my willingness to go along with it. All too often, too many expectations dampen our experiences and we miss out on the true lesson. Remember: nothing is under control!

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 20th

      So very well said. Thank you!

      Reply
  • Claudia : Aug 16th

    What’s most impressive is your happy and quick transition to a dedicated trail angel. I’m in awe of accomplished folks, such yourself Ruth, who are humble and have a servant’s heart.

    I love your life long groove of living each of your experiences fully. You certainly could write an interesting book. Continue to stay and be well.

    SlackPackHiker- 66 y/o female AT section hiker

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 20th

      I’d better be careful or I’m going to get a big head from all the kind words being heaped upon me.

      We have been so fortunate to have a lot of really good opportunities presented to us. I think what’s important is that we seized upon these experiences with gusto. We now call ourselves “stimulus junkies,” always enjoying new adventures.

      Thank you for your comment.

      Reply
  • Toby : Aug 19th

    I’ve nothing but admiration for you, your heart-felt decision, and for your plans going forward. If I ever accomplish a fraction of what you’ve achieved I’ll be a happy man.

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 20th

      Toby, trust me, I certainly have plenty of self-centered moments. But I do find that all this time on the trail to think about life, along with the exposure to exceptional people both hiking on and living near the trail, have changed me deeply. I truly feel I’ve been guided and helped by a greater power, call it what you want. Way too many things happened and good people appeared exactly when I needed them to be just chance. For this I’m grateful.

      Reply
  • Bluebird : Aug 20th

    Ruth

    I have enjoyed reading your articles these past few years! You are an amazing writer and have achieved amazing accomplishments.

    I was overjoyed to meet you Rattle River Hostel. Best of luck with all your future endeavors.

    Bluebird

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Aug 20th

      Bluebird, you encountered me at one of my very lowest emotional periods. Your heartfelt enthusiasm for my writing warmed my heart and really encouraged me to keep trying. Thank you for the encouragement. Even though I eventually halted the hiking, I’m so glad I did continue enough to experience NH and the first few dozen miles of southern ME. Even though they were difficult, I am now able to truly understand more what the AT is all about.

      Reply
  • Karen : Aug 26th

    Ruth –
    I have been following your posts all season and even went back and read all of your previous posts. Thanks for the hours of great entertainment and inspiration!

    I also live in the Cincinnati area and would love to meet you in person when you get back home. I’m hoping you can see my email address and will send me a message when you have time. I’m a not-so-young woman considering a solo hike after retirement and would like your advice on how to prepare. If not, maybe I’ll just see you on the local trails someday!

    -Karen

    Reply
    • Ruth Morley : Sep 7th

      Karen, it’s exciting to hear from you, a fellow not-so-young female hiker in Cincinnati. I’ll be in touch soon, that’s a promise. Fist bump to seal the deal!

      Reply

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