Deflated yet elated

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.

11 thoughts on “Deflated yet elated

  1. Jolly,
    I have thoroughly enjoyed reading your posts documenting your AT journey. Your words, pictures and videos have been very inspiring to me. I have never had the guts to attempt an AT thru-hike, just a couple of sections in the Smokies but I am fascinated by the challenge. You made the right decision to step off the trail, no need to risk further injury. I wish you the very best going forward with whatever it is you decide to do. My hat is off to you, sir.

    Bill F

  2. Hi Jolly

    Sorry to hear you’re coming off the trail. I’ve enjoyed following your progress here and on Twitter. I’m sure you’ll get right back on the trail when you’ve sorted your body out.

    Good luck!


  3. Congratulations, Jolly, on completing almost 300 miles on the AT in one trek! That’s awesome!

    I’m glad you’re going to take care of your body. Maybe you can do the AT in segments like Peace and I have done. It probably wouldn’t take you 15 years like us. Just do what you can when your body is ready.

    Be sure to let us know when you in the vicinity of Washington, DC. We’re in Rockville, MD, and would love having you and/or your family here for a meal or overnight if you want to visit.

    Thanks for all the beautiful pictures you took. It was great meeting you.

    Love and Peace

    • Tie Dye:

      I am going to miss you more than anyone else; you are a brave and inspirational woman, and I consider myself lucky to have been able to spend four weeks on the best trail in the world with you.

      I wish you the very best, and a safe and successful thru. Hope to see you New York-side. I’ll slack pack ya ;). Lol

      My very best,

  4. Just want to say thank you for enabling my mother stalker ways… my son is beeline the beeline with the long hair. You helped me convince him that moms can see all and know all. Best luck to you and your family and for letting me know where my son was and that he was safe. Thanks, Cathy

    • I think you may have me confused with another hiker; I don’t recall meeting beeline, but I think a couple of my friends did (Tie Dye perhaps).

  5. Thank you Jolly for a wonderful blog. I have really enjoyed following your thru hike. Best of luck with your recovery and I hope you do get to do parts of it again.

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