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.

Goodbye Virginia

Wednesday September 13, 2017

Shady Valley, TN 21.2 miles

Total mileage 1742.3

I took a zero yesterday to avoid the rain from Hurricane Irma and spend the time with Jim. Since he is still here this will just be a quick post. I’ve said goodbye to Virginia and I’m now in Tennessee.

I slackpacked today in a north direction. It was a really beautiful day.

Today I am thankful for Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. Yum! Yum!

Thursday September 14, 2017

US 321 Hampton, TN 20.5 miles

Total mileage 1762.8

Today I slackpacked south into Hampton, TN. It was not an easy day. The trail felt like a roller-coaster. It was up down up down all day. Nothing steep just little stuff all day long.

It was also a crappy day. We started in the misty rain, which didn’t last long. Then after lunch it started in with the musty rain again and was chilly.

The day just didn’t seem like it was going to end.

The bottom inscription on this tumbstone says “Lived alone, suffered alone, died alone.

Today I am thankful that the day did end and I can get off my feet.

1700 miles completed

Jim evacuated Florida to escape Hurricane Irma and came up here to be with me. I’d like to think that after seeing me last weekend he just couldn’t stay away.

I decided not to blog to much so I could spend most of my down time with him. So I will just be adding some of the highlights.

I have heard that my house is mostly fine. I have lost some shingles and my avocado tree.

Saturday September 9, 2017

Massie Gap 23.5 miles

Total mileage 1688.7

Hiked half way into Grayson Highlands State Park. This is where Jim picked me up. I didn’t see any ponies today so hopefully tomorrow.

This is Hurricane Shelter. How appropriate!?!?

Sunday September 10, 2017

VA 859 Grassy Creek Rd 17.3 miles

Total mileage 1706

I saw ponies!!! It was a super cold windy morning. I would guess with the wind chill it was in the upper 30’s. We were over 5000 feet in elevation in some areas. We ran into a group of young boys out for the weekend and they were shocked to see that we were in shorts.

This is Fatman Squeeze. The trail goes right through here.

Selfie of me. Hehe!

Monday September 11, 2017

Damascus, VA 15.1 miles

Total mileage 1721.1

Finally Damascus! Almost the end of Virginia and less than 500 miles to go!

I am thankful that all of my family is safe and I haven’t heard of anyone I know being injured.

Cooler Weather

Friday September 8, 2017

VA 670 Holston River 19.3 miles

Total mileage 1665.1

My zero Wednesday turned into a double zero. I was supposed to have shoes delivered on Wednesday, but they didn’t come in until Thursday. This gave HOOTIE time to catch up to me so we slackpacked together today. We also plan to slackpack tomorrow and Jim will pick us up in the afternoon. He and Mom are coming up to get away from Hurricane Irma that is headed to Florida.

I wish I could say today was a really good day, but it wasn’t. When we left the hotel this morning it was only in the lower 40’s and we had to hike through a meadow. There was actually some ice on the grass. My socks and shoes got wet and it was fridged when that water hit my toes! But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was that my right foot really started to bother me even with new shoes on. I took some ibuprofen to help with the pain and I’m hoping I will be able to continue to hike on it.

The actually day was pretty. It was good hiking weather with a high of 70. The sky was clear and the sun was shining brightly. We came to an old school that was part of a settlers museum. It was open so we had a look around.

I saw 3 deer today and it was also good to hike with someone again. It makes the time go by faster when the miles are boring or you are in pain.

I am thankful that some of my family are leaving Florida, evacuating from Hurricane Irma. Which also means that I get to see them since they are coming up here. 😊I wish the best for all of those that are remaining. May you all be safe.

Cow talent

Tuesday September 5, 2017

Atkins, VA 18.1 miles

Total mileage 1645.8

When I wake up this morning in my tent it feels pretty cold. Once I get up and moving it doesn’t seem that bad. My tent is dry and easy to pack up. I head out at 6:50 using my headlight.

The day seemed long and tiring after yesterday and by the end of the day my feet are sore. They were feeling better after the shorter days and slackpacking while Jim was here, but I killed them after doing 45 miles in the last two days! 🙁

I walk through cow pasture. I should say tip toe through. Because holy shit there is a lot of SHIT. I mean massive piles or long running trails of it like the cow was walking and pooping at the same time. Now that is talent!

In one pasture there are cows on both sides of the well worn hiking trail. Close to the trail! I even walk off trail not to get to close to them. Do they charge? I was hoping I wouldn’t find out! They just look at me like I am crazy for walking through a cow pasture and I think I MUST BE!

I am staying in town tonight at a motel and taking tomorrow off since the weather looks bad. This will be my first zero since flipping back down south 27 days ago. I am really looking forward to the rest.

I am thankful for making it to to town before the rain started.

First Hiking Marathon

Monday September 4, 2017

Stealth camping @ Lick Creek 1627.7 27.4 miles

Total mileage 1627.7

I decided not to blog while Jim was here so I had more time to spend with him, but I will list the mileage per day.

Friday September 1, 2017

Slackpacking North from 1567.7 to 1554.5 13.2 miles Horrible weather day-rainy, cold and windy

Saturday September 2, 2017

Slackpacking South from 1567.7 to 1581 13.6 miles Bad weather-cold and wet

Sunday September 3, 2017

Slackpacking North from 1599.7 to 1581.3 18.4 miles Good weather-shoes and socks stayed dry.

I had to say goodbye to Jim this morning. It is never easy, but I walk away so thankful for the time we had together. I did feel sick, but not as sick as the day before knowing that our time together was coming to an end.

The times in the past when I was feeling sick was definitely anxiety. I was either nervous about the terrian or the fact that I was doing this alone or both.

I enjoy my time with Jim. He brings lots of food that he prepared and all kinds of supplies I might need. Thank you Paul and Debbie for the ribs! They are awesome. We spend most of our time together snuggled up in bed or…

I also had to help Jim make a repair to his truck. The tail pipe came loose and I had to crawl under the truck and use wire to tie it in place until he can get it fixed back home. This was a first for me, crawling under a truck, but I was glad to help.

Jim seems to be doing well after his rotator cuff surgery, but I think he is frustrated because it is a slow recovery process.

I start the hike with 2.5 liters of water. The water is starting to dry up on the trail and I am having to carry more. Water is heavy. I have a tough time this morning. My pack is uncomfortable with the extra water. As the day progresses and I drink more my pack starts to feel better.

I hear a gun shot. It was really loud and I wonder how close it was. Is it hunting season already? A little while later as I was walking through a dark Rhododendron tunnel I hear another gun shot that sounds like it is right next to me. 😨 I scream out “don’t shoot me!” as I walk out of the tunnel. I see two hunters with their backs to me looking up into the trees. As I approached them I ask if they got it whatever “it” was. One guy tells me he missed and that it was squirrel season. I asked what they are trying to kill it with because the gun blast was so loud? I though surely there would be nothing left to the squirrel of they hit it. They say the gun is just a 22. Well it sure sounded big. I have been in the woods so long and everything is so quiet I guess I was just super sensitive to the blast. I ask if it is safe to go by and they tell me that it is and will give me time to get out of the area. I don’t hear another gun shot for about a half hour and it sounds like it is far away.

I had debated doing a really long day today so I could tent where there was a water source and get to town tomorrow afternoon before the rain that is forecasted starts. Water is scarce and I feel OK so I hike until 7pm getting to a campsite with water. My feet pay a price for this. They are sore.

Today I am thankful for not running out of water although I did get a little dehydrated.

FRIENDS

Thursday August 31, 2017

Pearisburg VA 7.4 miles

Total mileage 1555.5

I hike the remaining few miles into town and get to my hotel early morning. I get cleaned up and ready to see Jim tonight. He won’t arrive until 10pm. But I’m so excited and I know I won’t sleep until at all until he gets here.

I have dinner with CHOCOHOLIC. It is so great to catch her. Finely! But I learn that she has severe tendonitis in her tibia/ankle area and is going home to heal, officially ending her hike for this year.

I am thankful for all the wonderful people I have met along the trail and the time I was able to spend with them.

I absolutely hated today!

Wednesday August 30, 2017

Rice Field Shelter 25.3

Total mileage 1547.7

When I got to the shelter last night it was packed with a college orientation group. They are all tenting and not staying in the shelter so there is plenty of room for me. I am the only one in the shelter until another women, section hiking comes in. I sleep great. We both are up early this morning and get packed up. She heads north and I continue south.

I absolutely hated today. I didn’t have any views today until the very end of the day. The trail was overgrown and there was a TON of cobwebs that drove me insane! I actually turned my skirt around because the back is a little longer than the front so it covered up my legs a little more. Then there was the rocks! They really slow you down and trip you up. I was trying to get to a campsite almost 24 miles south of where I started and it was taking FOREVER!

Then… When I get to the campsite I planed to stay at there was a lot of trash laying around and didn’t look inviting so I decided to go to the next shelter. The next shelter didn’t have a water source so I had to carry in extra water. I was already sore and tired. Now I was grumpy, sore and tired. And getting to the next shelter involved walking through more overgrown thorny trail.

When I get to the shelter there are 3 guys there two older brothers in their 60’s and a son in his 40’s. They are all very nice and even hang my bear bag for me with theirs. That is the first time someone had ever done that for me. How kind! But… They start a campfire and the smoke is blowing into the shelter and I hate the smell of it. I’ll forgive them since they were so kind and hung my bear bag.

I have been staying I the shelters more, because 1. I have been hike longer days and it takes less time to get settled and pack up in the morning and 2. Because they have been pretty empty.

Today I am thankful for my friend MISTIC. I saw her today on the trail. I met her last year when I was hiking through the Smokies. I know she planned to thru hike this year and we stayed in touch through email. She started her hike later than I did so I never saw her on my north bound section. When she flipped south she flipped down to GA and hiked north. So that is how we crossed paths.