To the Partners and Supporters of Thru-Hikers

They say it’s never goodbye, it’s just see you later, but for those of us leaving families, children or partners that “see you later” can be a tough pill to swallow.

The stereotypical thru-hiker that comes to mind might be a youthful (though, not necessarily young) and adventurous soul, free from the ties of the material world. Or at least, that’s what I always thought.

Thru-hikers are partners, parents and people connected to their home. Just like anyone else.

The most difficult “see you later” is reserved for those you typically ‘do life’ with. The grocery shopping, the bill paying, the movie watching. But, we often picture the lonely hiker missing home as they lay in their tents, and never take time to appreciate those having to continue doing life without us.

I’ve experienced this with my partner, who never asked to hike the Appalachian Trail, but continues to bear the weight of trekking on without her partner.

This is an under-appreciated experience — one that offers no photo at the summit of Katahdin, no Tramily and no recognition for the sacrifice being made by both parties.

I suppose I’m writing this to thank those continuing to ‘do life’ without me.

In particular, my partner, who sends me packages, cheers me on and takes care of our plants without being asked. She doesn’t get to reach mountain peaks each day to offset that “see you later,” she simply has to face it head-on.

I truly believe it is an immensely brave thing to set off to hike the Appalachian Trail. It is braver to love someone enough to let them chase their dreams.

Haileigh, your support means more than I could put into words. Your sacrifice is seen, by me and all thru-hikers that know the triumph of love as being greater than the triumph of any summit.

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