As I sit on the porch of the Hemlock Hollow hostel waiting for my ride back to civilization, I’m flooded with mental pictures and mini flashbacks of the time spent on the trail. I can hear echoes of laughter from Captain Dan and Tie Dye (my rocks), the cracking of ice falling from frozen trees between Burningtown Gap and NOC, the serenity of Cheoah Bald, my woot of jubilation on top of Clingmans Dome, the fist bumps with other numerous trail friends, the smile on my face each time I’d cross paths with Piper (four times in total), the scent of spruce forests, the gurgling of creeks and streams, and the sheer physical enormity that was the smokies.
I’m very happy to have attempted my thru hike of the Appalachian Trail, and I’m ok with my decision to step off.
Will it be for good? I never say never – I may return when I’m back to full strength, or I may not, choosing to perhaps bring my own son or daughter in the distant future instead.
What am I taking away from this? Never underestimate what you are capable of; we are capable of enduring much more than we would ever give ourselves credit for.
My desire to learn more about myself and who I really am was at times a struggle, but ultimately I found what I was looking for on the AT. My journey was always bigger than the actual hiking, and far more profound than the physical demands before me. It was a walk of self reflection and of discovery.
I found that I’m actually a jolly bloody Englishman with a thirst for life and adventure. I’ve enjoyed getting to know me.
Would I do it all over again? You bet I would.