So all good things come to an end.
It’s been 55 days since I started walking at Springer Mountain Georgia. I ended up in Damascus Virginia 466 miles later. Of the 55 days since I started this adventure, I spent 40 days and nights in true wilderness. I took zero mile days in Hot Springs and Erwin, three days in Elk Park, and five days in Nashville, plus four days in Damascus at Trail Days. It was hard to leave the friends I’ve made and my ambitions of continuing on behind on the trail, but I’m at peace with the decision. Some day I’ll go back and finish, maybe later this year, maybe next year, maybe five years from now. It’ll happen on its own time.
Practical Lessons / Observations
I saw no bears but hallucinated plenty of them.
Nothing makes me feel more alive than night hiking in a thunder storm.
Rain and wet socks are really not that bad as long as the temperature stays above 45 degrees F.
If you hike 10+ miles a day, you can Snickers bars all day and still be in great shape and feel like a million bucks — I lost 9 pounds.
The trail will give you exactly what you need when you need it. Maybe 5 minutes after I remarked that it would be great to have a trekking pole for the descent into Nantahala, one appeared. I saw and heard countless examples of this axiom.
Life is beautiful but it is also difficult. The beauty makes it worth the difficulty. The two days of relentless rain and cold in the Smokies were redeemed by the most beautiful rays of sunshine on Day 3.
There is nothing to be afraid of — for instance, solo camping was incredibly freaky at night, but in the morning when the sun came out I realized it was all in my head.
God is most powerfully present when he is most apparently absent.
Angels are alive. From Sweet Spot’s (Candy Henderson) much needed shuttles to spirit-lifting trail magic along the way, the generosity I experienced on the trail was incredible.
Thanks to the Mudbutt Crew for making the last month of the trip so fun. Shout outs to Firefox, Hambone, Sunshine Ninja, Baby Scrooge, W, Water Boy, Jabbs, Red Bull, Rollin, Strider, Sweet Spot, Yodel, Yukon, Love Machine, Sheep, Slopes, Slayer, Desperado, Micro, Eastwood, Byline, Lady Forward, Daffy, Tom, Firestarter and Bushwacker, Animal, Alyson, Brad G, the Chandlers, the Rosses, and everyone else I met along the way.