Walking into the Northeast
Today as I pulled myself up the rocky crest of the ridge dividing New Jersey and New York, I could see a faint yet vast stretch of skyscrapers in the distance. It’s kind of hard to wrap my mind around. I’ve now walked from Georgia to the point where I can actually stare at my home.
At mile 1371.3, I feel like I should be used to the idea of covering large distances on foot. But even as I watch my progress on the map grow more and more significant, I still find it counterintuitive that all these days of hiking, with all their ups and downs, can add up to something so big. I think that’s because you can’t keep the big picture in mind every day. You can’t start out in the morning saying, I’m doing 20 miles today, so that’ll knock out another .9% of the thru-hike. That tries your patience too much, and could frustrate you off the trail. I’ve been trying not to look too much further ahead than the next few days, and when days accumulate into weeks and months, the results are shocking.
Through Pennsylvania, I temporarily took a longer view, and I wasn’t very happy about it. I decided in the town of Boiling Springs that I wanted to reach the end of the state to meet family in 8 days–requiring a demanding average of 21 miles per day for 8 days in a row. Incidentally, this was also exactly when the famed rocks of the state started–the jagged, foot-wrenching rocks covering the trail for miles at a time. So I set off with a friend through this section where every step became a challenge, and we both couldn’t get the end out of our minds. Every time we felt fatigued, the remaining dozens of miles would loom so large and unattainable; it was tough to stay positive. We ultimately succeeded in our goal, and I’m glad I now know that I can push myself that hard–but since then I’ve made sure to take it one day at a time, and let it be a surprise when I cross into the next state.
On another note, tomorrow I’ll probably enter areas I’ve hiked before, with family and friends. I’ve been waiting so long to be on familiar shores, so to speak. The Northeast overall will have lots of that for me, whether it’s the specific trail I’ve been on or the general topography that rings a bell. There will be plenty of gorgeous spots to slow down, drop my fixation on mileage and let the forest speak, while the distance to Kahtadin melts away.
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I LOVE your honesty and attitude! Keep it up “one step at a time”!!!
Great progress, wonderful writing, Ronen.