My Adventure is over

Friday September 15, 2017

USFS 293 19.5 miles

Total mileage 1782.4

My Appalachian Trail adventure is over and it has now become a job. It is work and no longer brings me a tremendous amount of joy.

I woke up this morning and decided to quit the trail. It seemed an easy decision to make even though I felt sick to my stomach about it. I decided to hike this last day with my hiking partner, HOOTIE and let him know. I tell Jim just before I hit the trail that this will be my last day. He tells me we will talk later.

It is easy to tell HOOTIE and talk about it. I tell him as soon as we hit the trail. At the end of the hike we talk about it again and he asked me if I still feel the same and I do. I didn’t cry when I made the decision or when I talk to HOOTIE about it. It just feels right. I am tired and my feet are sore. I no longer want to eat. I only eat when I get hungry and nothing really sounds good to eat not even town food.

I’m stressed with my time limit and I just want to lay in bed for days and do nothing. I’ve made myself sick over this and have had such anxiety. I know that I will regret my decision and have been encouraged to continue to make sure this is really really what I want.

So today I hike out again. Jim is going home today and he said he will come back and get me if I really really want to end my hike.

Today I am thankful for my friend, Kara who has been through all of this and knows and understands what I am going through. She has been encouraging me every step of the way. Her words always are always from the heart.

Post trail edit 10.19.17 I wanted to add a few emails that convinced me to stay on the trail. These are just for myself and that is why I have added them at a later date. They are what kept me on the trail and moving forward.

Hi Amy,

I appreciate you letting me know. I know where you are at and how you are feeling because I’ve been there before. When I was at this point, it didn’t matter what anyone else said to me. No one could have talked me out of it at that point. Since I don’t know you well, I’m not sure whether I should tell you it’s okay to quit, or if I should try to encourage you to stay on the trail.

It seems that your last town stays have not really been giving you a break at all since you have been slack-packing. You’re probably exhausted. Everyone needs a day off from time to time. You’ve also been plowing through the miles like a maniac, and you are right…pushing yourself to do big miles when you hurt and are exhausted is NOT fun. Also, when you start to lose weight, when your nutrition goes downhill, it really messes with your mind and emotions.

Maybe you should stay in town and do nothing for a day.,.maybe two. Stay at a nice hotel. Eat a hot meal. Binge watch whatever you like on TV and/or read a book. Order a pizza to your room. Maybe you will feel better tomorrow. That always seemed to help me. At the very least…I hope you will give it a couple of days before you get off the trail. You might feel differently at that point.

You are so close! I would also tell you that I really do regret not finishing the trail, and you probably will, too.

That said, you’ve had an awesome run! I have been so proud of you and how well you’ve done. It has been so much fun following you and reading your blog. Even if you DO quit right now, you have accomplished something amazing.

I support you no matter what, and I’m incredibly proud of you!

Please keep in touch!

Email #2

Are you bawling right now?

…because before I quit I was bawling and bawling and I could not stop. I even bawled like a child, sobbing in front of the hostel owners. I couldn’t help it.  I bawled off and on for a couple of days before I called it quits.

Quit. It’s such an ugly word, isn’t it? It becomes uglier and ugler from the moment you get off the trail, too. It haunts you.

If you’re not bawling so hard you can’t stop, well… you don’t want to quit badly enough. 😉 Therefore, you need to wait a little bit longer until you decide to quit. I’m talking hiccups, snot drizzling out of your nose, eyes baggy and red, not being able to talk without it coming out sounding like some kind of a monster….THAT kind of sobbing.

Email #3

Hi Amy,

I thought of a few more things to say.

Did you ever get to the point that your marriage was ‘not fun’ but was work? All of the wonderment you felt at how much you loved Jim. He could do no wrong! You were on a cloud…but then it wore off, and you began to see all of his faults. It became WORK …but you didn’t bail out on Jim. You stuck with it and pushed through the hard parts…and you two are probably much stronger for it.

If you have had a few bad days, it doesn’t mean that the rest from here on out won’t be good. Everyone gets to the point that you are at. Everyone.

One other thing…as I got closer and closer to the end, and as I saw the days dwindling to make it to Katahdin, with the deadline looming…wondering if I would make it or not…I got more and more stressed. Stress really does a number on your body, especially with MS. I would imagine it might be similar with Lupus. I got more exhausted, which slowed me down, which made me stressed, which slowed me down even more, made me take more zeros and made me feel even worse, physically. I’m wondering if you have some of that going on since you have to be at work by a certain date? Could that be why you are pushing yourself so hard? …because you really weren’t complaining about not having fun until you started to do those massive miles per day.

I’m also wondering if you are pushing yourself so hard so you can stay up with Hootie? So you won’t be alone? I don’t blame you for not wanting to be alone, but if you let him move on, and go at the pace your body will allow–stop when you are in pain-then who knows what the tide may bring? Maybe there is another woman on the trail that you might meet. Just throwing that out there.

Again, I’m not trying to control you–just want to put everything on the table to make sure you don’t make a decision that you might regret later. I can tell you right now, that I want SO BADLY to be on that trail and do the adventure all over again…but it will probably never happen…and I wish so badly I had stuck it out.

When I talk about having done a thru-hike, I always have to throw in this caveat that “I didn’t finish the trail. I ‘only’ got to Andover.” I know everyone else thinks it’s amazing, but still…I just don’t feel like the ‘hero’ they think I am. It’s in my own mind…not theirs. I was one of the 3 out 4 who didn’t make it all the way. I so wanted to be the 1 in 4 who DID make it. Now, I am a statistic.

Looking at you and what you’ve done…I think what you have done is totally amazing! …and your quitting before the end doesn’t lessen my opinion of what you have done in the least…but I know how I felt when I quit. I just don’t want you to have to feel that way. Though I can go back and finish those miles, it will never have the ‘magic’ of a thru-hike.

Pamper yourself and take a few days of doing nothing and see if you still want to quit after that.

Take care, and keep in touch!

Email #4

One last thing (…unless I think of something else.)

I was just reading through my responses to you, tormenting myself with all of the wrong things I said and saw this pic of me at the bottom of the email. You’re probably wondering why I tacked that picture of me on the end. I was going to tell you that it is the picture of a QUITTER, and this quitter would give anything to be in those sunbeams on the trail again. I was going to urge you to try to capture every moment of the trail, and don’t forget how amazing it is to be out there.

I thought better of it and thought I deleted the pic, but I guess it didn’t get deleted so it just seemed weird.

Have a good night.

16 thoughts on “My Adventure is over

  1. Awww… 😥 I’m grateful to be part of your gratitude list, and was very grateful to have had your support when I was on the trail, too.

    I hope you will take a day or so off the trail to REST UP. It REALLY, REALLY does make a difference! I was never hungry until I got off the trail in town and was resting. I think it’s sort of like a baby who gets overly-tired and then can’t sleep, when sleep and rest is what it needs the most.

    NOBODY ‘has fun’ hiking 20 plus miles a day!!! It’s brutal! As someone pointed out to me the other day, that’s almost a marathon a day! A marathon is about 26 miles. I know you are worried about your deadline. Maybe you can give up trying to finish by your deadline, take it more leisurely, and just see how far you get. That will make it easier for you to come back and finish up within a year’s time so you can still say you thru-hiked.

    I don’t want you to have any regrets (like I do) if you don’t finish the trail. I really think you need to take some time to rest and do nothing (not even slack-packing) for a day or two. (YOU SLACK PACKED WHILE YOUR HUSBAND WAS THERE VISITING YOU! That’s hard-core, lady!) See how you feel about things after some rest! Your body and mind need a day of rest once in a while, and you’ve not taken many of those since you flipped. I can tell you are absolutely exhausted.

    Regardless of what your final decision is, I support you– no matter what. I know both sides of the coin, so I can’t stand in judgement. You’ve had a GREAT RUN, and I’ve been so proud of what you have done so far. It has been so much fun following you. What you have done is amazing. It’s something most people will never do.

    I’m praying for you, friend, and I support you, no matter what your final decision is. ❤

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I know that all of us who have followed your adventure agree wholeheartedly with your friend Kara. I feel like everything I’m thinking was most eloquently expressed by her in her above comment.

    Pysical, mental and emotional exhaustion can completely affect your feelings, thoughts and decision-making. In my case, after being on the trail only a month (compared to your FIVE!) and now home, I have needed to sleep a huge amount of hours every night for two solid weeks, with almost daily naps thrown in. I know that, in a state of pain, grief and exhaustion because of my injury, I said and decided some things that I now regret. I find it incredulous that you have been able to continue this pace for such an extended amount of time. You really do have great fortitude, both mental and physical, but we all eventually reach our limits.

    Kara made a very good suggestion that I hope you’ll seriously consider: no longer try to finish the entire hike by your work deadline. First, take at least two days of total rest. Give yourself a break from this blog and from needing to achieve one single thing, other than laying horizontally. Then, when you head out, radically lower your mileage expectations and just try to enjoy the hike again. Take a lesson from the lighthearted section hikers you have met. Take it daily. You no longer have the ever present pressure of thruhiking. You’re just enjoying autumn up close and personal with nature, on a trail and in a location like no other. When you go home to honor your work commitments, you now have a much smaller number of miles that you can come back and cover, SHOULD YOU CHOOSE, by the end of April, 2018.

    All my best to you Amy. I wish so much I could be there hiking shorter mileage days with you.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Yo sis, first of all (happy belated birthday) it’s always nice when yours comes around because you take away that gap and I can officially tell people you are two years older than me. Sad news and hope you re consider after some rest. I am so proud of you, I sit around and tell all my fat Navy chiefs about you and they often come back with ….WHY? I tell them it was me that drove you to the brink of insanity that makes you do the shit you do, like the AT, or eating the way you do that put your condition into remission, or the triathlon. (Don’t worry I don’t talk about high school). I know you will finish this trail, because you are to stubborn to be beatin, it may not be on this trip, but I know you will return. Hell I’ll throw a sixer in the backpack and come hike the last mile or so with ya Ha Ha. Whatever you decide killer, I will always support and be proud of you.

    Love ya sis

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Little Bear I am inspired. Way to be brave, tough, and completely authentic. Yesterday my partner turned 60 and we did all this ritual in the forest. I was moved by something someone shared about the freedom to change patterns and find newness and to not keep doing something just cuz it’s what we do. The AT and all the long distance hiking trail starts and ends are arbitrary. Why migrate on a footpath if it doesn’t bring us joy? If we live our lives only to check off boxes that we didn’t create than are we really living? Way to own your experience and just do you. You are hiking your own hike in the truest sense and I think you are amazing.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Hold your head high and be proud of your accomplishment. You kicked the Trails ass all over the place. You did the toughest parts and you them it well. You decided where you started and where you finished. Therefore you beat it. Enjoy your upcoming nap Amy. Jim will be glad you are home.

    Liked by 1 person

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