Sunday, February 23, 2014

Returning home

"Well, yes, ma'am, I do... I mean, I got everything I need right here with me. I got air in my lungs, a few blank sheets of paper. I mean, I love waking up in the morning not knowing what's gonna happen or, who I'm gonna meet, where I'm gonna wind up. Just the other night I was sleeping under a bridge and now here I am on the grandest ship in the world having champagne with you fine people. I figure life's a gift and I don't intend on wasting it. You don't know what hand you're gonna get dealt next. You learn to take life as it comes at you... to make each day count." 
- Jack Dawson, Titanic

My last two days on the AT were not my favorite days of this journey.

In fact, the last week was downright miserable and mentally draining.  I found myself in another Shenandoah-esque situation of being trapped in knee deep snow moving in exhausting slow motion.  The week previous I had traveled about 100 miles in six days, whereas, now I had spent six days and traveled 18 miles.

For the first time I was realizing that I was running out of time, money, and motivation.  My health and sanity were also becoming increasing concerns... frostbite being at the forefront of my mind.  Was it worth continuing this journey with health and safety being at risk?  Disappointed (and I mean, highly disappointed and disheartened), I was seriously starting to think that getting off trail was a wiser decision.  And after a demanding last day of hiking to the next road, I stuck out my thumb and hitched a ride back to Waynesboro.

It was not the original plan, but life often veers away from "original plans," and for better or worse, you take a deep breath and try to keep moving forward.  As I sat in Waynesboro weighing my options for returning to Atlanta, I tried to look on the bright side of the situation.  It wasn't the end of the world.  I had hiked over 1,000 miles across eight states from Quebec to Virginia, and the Trail wasn't going anywhere.  I have thru-hiked the AT once before, and even though this was intended to be a thru-hike, there's no shame in a section hike.  I will pick up where I left off next time with renewed vigor, more time, and a slightly more padded bank account.

Plus, now I will have some extra time to spend with my family before heading back to Colorado.  My sister's getting married at the end of March, and my brother is graduating from college in the beginning of May.  It will be great to really celebrate these events rather than flying/driving in at the last minute to make a ceremony.  Everything was going to be OK.

Now I needed to figure out a way to get from Waynesboro to Atlanta.  This is when my buddy, Zach, an old friend of mine, came to the rescue.  Zach and I were in the same kindergarten class and had gone through school together until college.  He currently lives in Roanoke and was incredibly heading to Atlanta for a few days.  I couldn't believe it when he offered to give me a ride in exchange for watching their new puppy for a day.  Um, heck yes.

I wanted to surprise my mom and dad with my homecoming since they were not expecting to see me until the end of March for my sister's wedding. I didn't get home until late in the night after everyone had gone to sleep, so I slept in my dad's van and woke early the next morning to surprise him on his way out.  The reaction was exactly what I was hoping for...

And so now, I'm home.  My Quebec to Georgia thru-hike was cut in half, but I will always have more white blazes to look forward to in the future.  Life continues on.  One day, one step at a time.  The journey never really ends, anyways.

The Starbucks crew gave me a free drink when they heard about my hike.

The magical star watching over Roanoke.

Finley, the puppy!

Drinking a beer in my parents' kitchen while they have no idea I'm home.

Bro and Sis!  And Abbey.

Fireside chat.


  1. Micah, glad to hear you are safe and we enjoyed following you on another adventure. Look forward to more in the future. We do have one question if you have time to answer.....we have a fellow Oregonian, Erin "Wired" Saver, who will be hiking the Appalachian Trail starting in March. This will finish her triple crown. We are sending some supplies to her to use for her resupply boxes along the trail. We wanted to also include a gift card for food stops --- are there certain fast food chains (McDonalds, Burger King, etc) or coffee shops (Starbucks, etc) that are frequent along the Appalachian Trail town stops?????

    1. Thanks guys. I'd say McDonalds or Wendys are probably your two most common fast food joints in trail towns. As far as coffee shops, Dunkin Donuts dominates... especially up north. Best of luck to her!

    2. Thanks for the response and info!!!

  2. You had an incredible hike and I'm happy you decided you wanted to live for another hike! Looking forward to seeing you at your sister's wedding and enjoy being with you for a few days afterward. You make me proud to have such an exceptional nephew who has done what you've accomplished. Many more adventures are ahead. Love you, Auntie Loretta

  3. Oh my! I forgot to say how much Jared and I laughed at the video of you surprising your dad. Hilarious! Loved it!

  4. MICAH! I am so incredibly proud of you! I have prayed for you over the past 1,000 miles and I know, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that GOD heard every prayer and had everything under control... including your ride home. The Creator of the Universe is so awesome and from the moment you were born, I knew HE had his hand on you... especially on your heart. You are a passionate adventurer...a seeker... an old soul... a lover of nature. Please continue to follow your dream and don't let anyone talk you out of it. Keep your heart and soul tuned into God and He will continue to lead you on the path of LIFE. Oh my... what an accomplishment you have made hiking through one of the worst winters on record. I can hear the stories you tell your children about the day that....

    Love you, Micah! I am so glad that you are safe and sound and like your Auntie Loretta said..."Alive and well for another hike!" Forever your biggest fan, MOM

  5. I'm not going to lie, my first reaction to this post was THANK GOD you are safe and sound at home...(even if you were sleeping in a van....) then my second was that I would miss your posts. :)
    What an amazing young man you are Micah, your mama said it best, passionate adventurer, seeker and that God has his hand on you. I look forward to your next journey.
    Ms. Sandi

    1. Oh and the video of your Dad made my morning!

  6. Wise decision, Micah. You'll continue traveling forward into life.


  7. Smart move brother! Happy to see you in once piece and smiling. The trail and adventure will always be there. Until you hear the call again... then go!