Why I decided to flip with 200 miles to go…
I’ve wanted to flip since Virginia.
I started this hike with the intention of going northbound the whole way. I began April 11, but noticed by the end of my first 300 miles that my comfortable pace was slower than most and I love a solid mid-day break. I’ve been concerned since the beginning of not finishing “in time,” as I’ve written about in previous posts. Flipping was appealing to me because it took away the feeling of rushing towards the finish, but I felt attached to the northbound bubble I was in. For those reading this that aren’t in the hiking world, a “flip-flop” hike is defined at this website.
I first “yellow- blazed” in Virgina skipping up about fifteen miles to eat at The Homeplace and flee from a hiker that I didn’t want to be around anymore (a whole other story.) My dreams of being a purist died that day and honestly, I didn’t really care. As people say over and over again, “HIKE YOUR OWN HIKE” and for me hitchhiking was a good way for me to reclaim my independence after a long time of making decisions based on others.
Fast forward to New Hampshire, when things became INCREDIBLY BEAUTIFUL and INCREDIBLY HARD. My body started hurting more than ever before and doing eight miles a day felt like ALOT. Goatbar and I ended up taking shorter blue-blaze trails off the AT to speed up the hiking, but even the shorter trails took us forever. Once again, we aren’t “purists” and try to make things easier when we can for our bodies. We like to say that instead of Thru-hiking the AT, we are thru-hiking from Georgia to Maine with major help from the AT.
After weeks of painful hiking and feeling like we weren’t getting anywhere, I sat on a rock today beside a lake and cried. I cried because I didn’t want to feel like I was running anymore. I didn’t want to keep feeling stressed and debating if I was gonna make it in time. I cried because all I wanted to do was take a zero day, but felt overwhelming guilt at the idea of taking a day off when the end was so near and we had to beat the deadline of October 15. Mind you, we could totally make this deadline, but we both knew it wasn’t fun anymore. I was resenting the hiking instead of enjoying it. I cried because I was so envious of another hiker who had decided to flip and enjoy Maine himself a few days prior. I was angry that we didn’t make that decision too.
But wait!! Goatbar came over as I cried and comforted me and explained that we still could flip, that it was a choice we could still make together, that it wasn’t too late and that we could end our hike by finishing Maine the way we want…slow with time to look around, take a mid-day nap, see some Moose, take a zero day, sit by the many lakes, summit Katahdin during this heatwave we are having, and be around eachother just a little bit longer. We made the joint decision on this special rock to flip up to Katahdin and hike our last 200 miles southbound because after almost six months of foot travel, we feel like an enjoyable and leisurely end to our hike is more important for us than ending our hike on Katahdin and if you’ve been to Maine, you know that everything is mesmerizing and gorgeous. Like everyone says, “it’s not about the destination, but the journey,” and boy do I feel that.
I’m excited to saunter, and I feel grounded in our unconventional choice. In the words of the great JAY-Z, “Don’t go with the flow. Be the flow.”
Onward and southward!
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