- 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.|