AT Day 9 – Departure
We survived the night and if any sketchy trading activities (of the Camp Perry nature) were held, we missed them. In fact, we learned the origin of the mysterious orange thing in the shelter. It belongs to Tyson. It’s a roller tube. He brought it because occasionally his “rib pops out”. Personally, that sounds horrifying. But you can also lay or sit on that thing to roll out a bunch of big muscles. It looks like the process could be pretty painful, but maybe that’s the purpose. No wail; no trail! Tyson and his sister-in-law hiking partner, Elise, are getting off trail today at the exact same spot as Keith and I. We have been leap-frogging with them since our first night. Happy Trails guys. It was fun.
OK, I said it. Our ninth day on the AT is our last. The parking lot at Deep Gap, NC is 4 miles from camp. Our shuttle driver Bret arrives to pick us up at 10am. That gives us time for a quick breakfast and a leisurely walk to the parking lot.
The overused adjective for this moment is “bittersweet.” I prefer what Romeo said to Juliet: “parting is such sweet sorrow.” The word “such” is the key to the phrase. It implies an intensity and an undefinable quality to sweet sorrow. And that is where I think I will leave it. My feelings about leaving are too complex for this post. The AT is a wonderful trail. It has its charms that separate it from the other long trails. But it is not my first love. The PCT still has my heart, and I look forward to returning there in July.
I also look forward to returning my ranch in central Florida, and all the people and daily activities that make life so precious there. I will make another post with equipment and food evaluations later. For now let me share my final AT trail moments.
Not sure what this is all about, but it reminds me of the day on the PCT when a trail maintainer asked me, mockingly, if I was a PCT “purist”. I might be, but if I am, so what. Hike your own hike!
This seems to be a real trail. I wish I knew the story behind it. Or maybe I don’t.
My eyes are sharp this morning. They study the trail, searching for a vision that will linger, because soon a vision is all there will be.
I pass by fallen trees like this all the time without thinking anything. But this morning, my last on the AT, I look closer. This old gal was between 280 and 300 years old when she fell. She was larger than most trees in the area, but not the largest by far. It leaves me sobered and respectful.
I will miss this trail. She puts on her best clothes for me on our last day together. One of my favorite pictures of the whole trail happens in the last hour of hiking.
We are outta here
Our shuttle driver is the same fella that brought us to the trail. He is a great guy with reasonable fees and deep knowledge of the trail, having been a thru-hiker himself. He drops Keith and I off at the northernmost MARTA station where we grab the train to the airport where our rental car to Orlando awaits.
Good bye for now, Appalachian Trail. I doubt that this will be our last time together. But before we meet again, I have a date with the PCT. We have some unfinished business to attend to.
- May 12
- Miles hiked today: 4
- Total AT miles: 85
- Total miles hiked: 93
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