September 28 2015: Last night in the woods
I got an early start. I knew it was my last day on trail and I wanted to do at least twenty miles, like the good old days. I walked steadily all day, stopping at Rainbow Ledges to call Flask and my parents.
I arranged to meet them in the morning at Abol Bridge. I wanted to take a day off because it was going to rain…it was going to rain a lot. I didn’t realize how dangerous that rain would prove to be…
I had a fantastic day: I didn’t see another living soul and I was glad for it. I stealth camped near Abol Bridge. I made my camp as usual, ate dinner and lit an incense. I was happy and at peace. It was my last night in the woods before the end.
Ending is Bittersweet
How sad it is to realize that people can hike over 2,000 miles and still not care about one another. On this journey I learned to love and care for everyone regardless of my own dispositions. The trail community has taught me to care for strangers.
In the beginning, we all had to adjust and lose our emotional baggage, our judgements. It was easy to laugh and push ourselves out of our comfort zone. We all bonded in the common struggle.
Throughout the middle portion of the hike I found a group of individuals, loosely organized, who I learned to love more deeply. I connected with them and we pulled one another along during the hardest of times.
Near the end of this hike I was injured and lost my connections. I tried to make new friends, but no one could replace the happiness and laughter I shared with that group. I couldn’t reconnect to hikers during this part of my hike. Instead I found support from my trail angels. They showed me how to love strangers again and again.
And now, at the end, I find myself much like I was at the beginning. Are we all just going back things the way they were before? How sad that is.
On this trip I have realized that there is something I want to do in my life. I want my own place out in the natural world where I can grow my own food. I want a place where I can make my peace with the world and hopefully provide support to those who need it.
Tonight is my last night camping on trail and I am spending it in the way that I love most- stealthed in a nice little spot, alone, doing my own thing. These were the nights in which I got to know myself.
I wish I could have spent this night with all my trail friends, but everyone has finished. It’s so difficult to let this end. It really ended a long time ago for me, when I lost my hiking buddies. I’ve learned a lot through my struggle, but the second half or rather the last two months, have been very painful. Even memories of happiness are painful right now. I wish my good memories were healing, but they just remind me of what is missing.
Today I hiked 21 miles- to finish trail in the way that I always loved most.I am going to miss hiking. I am going to miss all of those beautiful random moments. And I don’t think I will ever be able to let go of those moments we never shared. I have a strong sense of loss. I hope we get to fill those empty possibilities with new memories. I look forward to that- it drives me to finish. When I was walking today I was reminded of my 33 mile day- I felt as if I were hiking towards you and that you’d be somewhere if I kept walking.
I am so glad that this is ending because I am tired and broken down, but I will miss this life. I will miss the woods as a part of myself.
People say that it is the journey and not the destination. The experience of hiking is what constructs the hike. Many people judged me for hiking hard, and said that I was missing the experience, but the trail is still there, even when you move quickly, it just looks different. Hike your own hike. No hike is better or worse than another. I loved doing big miles and I love the experiences I had while doing so- this is when trail was most alive for me. No one should feel poorly about or judge the way others hike (or yellow blaze) this is simply a reflection of ego. Hike your own hike in the face of judgment, there is no need to justify or prove yourself to anyone as long as you are blossoming, growing, learning, laughing, loving—this is all the justification you will ever need in life. Life is beautiful, share it with grace, respect and dignity. Until we meet again.
“Happiness is only real when shared.” Alexander Supertramp