You’re going to miss this….
The leaves have began changing colors, the evenings are much cooler, and the sun goes to sleep early these days. Everyday, I am seeing pictures of fellow thru-hikers summiting Katahdin. The official photo capturing an ending to a long and meaningful journey. As present as I try to be in my hike, I can’t help but let my mind wander to the fact that in less then two weeks, I, too will have this moment. It’s a thought that both excites me and saddens me. Time is flying faster with each passing mile and as nice as it’s going to be to no longer feel like a smelly hobo, I know I’m going to miss this.
Over the weekend, I said goodbye to a special friend I met on the trail. It’s always difficult to bid farewell to people who have played a significant role in my hike. My spirits were down low and I knew it was time for another solo night in the woods. After an evening of reflecting, I came to the understanding that my sadness rooted back further than just the goodbye, but also because of the fact that this journey’s days are numbered. For the last 6 months, I have found a sense of security in these woods. Home is being dropped back at trail head after a town visit, normal is filtering water and eating cliff bars for breakfast, success is crushing the miles you set out to hike that day, and joy comes from spending time with the individuals who mean something to you. It’s been my way of life for half a year and I’m sad that this is the final chapter. I decided at that moment, that I would try my best to be as present as I could for the remaining days I have left in the woods. I went to sleep hopeful for the day that would follow.
When it rains, it pours………literally. The following morning I submerged from my hammock to extremely windy conditions. As I was just beginning to take down camp, a torrential downpour began. In an attempt to not completely ruin all of my stuff, I quickly threw everything in my pack, put the raincover on, and began hiking south towards the road that led to town. Because I had only camped .5 mile from the trailhead, I knew I could easily get to town and wait out the storm. When I was just about to submerge from the woods, something overcame me and I quickly U-Turned and continued my trek north. My thoughts began swirling with the storm around me and I knew in that moment, this is what I came for. Despite the river flowing down the trail, fridge tempts, and a soaking wet self, I committed to persevering even when things weren’t ideal. The miles slowly began passing and after a couple of hours, the rain let up and I had to laugh at how pathetic I looked. I like to chalk those miles in the ‘building character’ category. And that’s exactly what they were, because as soon as I summited a tough climb……..two of my very best friends were waiting for me with smiling faces and excitement to see me. After 17 miles in wet shoes, a lovely church swooped the three of us up, fed us, did our laundry, provided a hot shower, and allowed us to stay in their building overnight. It is the series of events in this particular day that remind me how amazing the trail can be. Every single emotion came to the surface that day and I can’t say many things in my life have the ability to do that.
So, as I sit here in Monson, Maine, roughly 114 miles from home plate, Katahdin………I am determined to make this last stretch count. To truly soak in the wilderness to the best of my ability. What I have come to realize this week, is that in a month or two, I’m going to miss this so much it hurts. I’m going to wish I could do anything in my power to take me back to this time and place, even for a day, even in a torrential downpour.
Embrace the adventure!
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