Day 24

Date: 221836May15

Location: Mt. Algo Shelter

Total Miles: 177.3

Today's Miles: 12.4

 

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Woke up to a caucacophny of birds this morning. It was wonderful.  First time a 0500 wake up didn't send me over the edge. 

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Spent our first day back on the trail hiking a bit further than we probably should have, but that was intentional, if only due to the layout of available camping/shelters. 

Met my first rattle snake atop the Schaghticoke Mountain (41.681969, -73.523895). Bumped into two hikers on the other side of it, they were not impressed but happy I let them know about it. 

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The days are much longer then when I was hiking earlier in the year. Sun is up much earlier, and there is plenty of time upon arriving at camp to take care of business. 

Feet are sore and my legs are shaking. Bugs abound and the food sucks. I left my trekking pole at home. 

But you know what?

It's STILL good to be back. 

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Day 23

Date: 212105May15

Location: Wiley Shelter

Total Miles: 164.9

Today's Miles: .2

Spent most of the day in the car driving to the border of NY/CT. Arrived via a very circuitous route (thanks Google) around dusk. Got to Wiley Shelter with just enough time to set up the tarp and hang my bear bag. 

 

It's good to be back. 

Day 22

It's an interesting experience, dreaming something up, planning out it's every detail, executing on your plan. Some people think that planning is the hard part, but for me, that's just not the case. Meticulous planning comes easy, it's non-confrontational, non-committal. It's somewhere in the execution that usually gets me.

At first glance my little adventure seems like an at excercise in futility, my own means of trying to prove to myself that I am who I was. While the idea that A Magical Journey Through The Woods would provide me with something years of doctors, medications, self help and other experiences hadn't was farcical, below the surface it contained disheartening qualities as well.

All is not lost. Learning and growing has occurred, just not in the way one might expect. While my knowledge of hiking and the outdoors increased, clarity about myself and perhaps what I would like to do with my life, where I would like to go, and a bit of focus for when I return home has also begun to emerge.

But even now I have nostalgia. Those same fits of fancy that made me want to hike in the first place are still there, yet I realize that they are perhaps the dreams and whiles of a younger me. My mind and body are not suited to such a life anymore.

Most importantly, I love my wife. Now that we're retired and finally have the time to give her the attention she deserves, it is absolutely appropriate to do so. To willingly separate from each other, when I know she's one of the things I need most...it's not about being responsible, it's about making good, healthy choices and coming to terms with what is important, what I actually need in my life.

You can't ignore/run/hide from things forever, and being on the trail, even for one more day feels a lot like putting things off for just a little bit longer. There's healing to be had out here on the trail, but at what expense? For now I'm heading home, and there's nothing wrong with that.

Thank you everyone for the continued support.

Day 21

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Date: 291819Mar15

Location: Fontana Crossing 

Total Miles: 164.7

Today's Miles: 14


Started our day off with breakfast at the restaurant next door to the Nantahala Outdoor Center. Totally worth it, carried me throughout the day.

Weather started off frigid, but turned out alright. Snow melted throughout the day, and for most of our hiking the ground was still frozen and not a muddy, wet mess.

Slack packed for the first time today, made the trip a bit easier. I took the opportunity to walk slower and enjoy the scenery a bit more than usual. Still felt a bit naked without all my stuff, but I got over that soon enough.


Is hiking and avoiding people any different from staying at home and avoiding people, other than getting to spend more time with my wife?

   Crazy looking ice crystals. 

 

Crazy looking ice crystals. 

Day 20

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Date: 282058Mar15

Location: Stecoah Gap

Total Miles: 150.7

Today's Miles: 13.4

SNOW! (and cold weather to boot)

Day was spent trudging through snow and dealing with blustery, 20 degree temperatures with wind. Not ideal hiking weather but at least it kept the number of people on the trail down.

Even so, we managed to get in respectable miles, with a solid eight miles of uphill climbing and three-thousand feet of elevation change to start our day. It was a juggling act of putting on and taking off gloves and hats, and the zipoing and unzipping of jackets all day long.


I'm not really sure if the trail is helping. Once or twice on the trip for the briefest flash of a moment I've felt like my 'Old Self', but otherwise it feels like yet another distraction. Something to try and take the edge off, getting by.

Perhaps my expectations were too high, or perhaps I'm not mentally ready to handle the social anxieties I'm experiencing on the trail... but even so, I have no better answers then I did before starting.

I'm sure if I leave the trail early I'll get plenty of 'atta boys' and 'look how far you got!'s - and while they'll be correct in spirit, the gestures will still feel hollow, and empty.

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Day 19

One of the many forms of trail magic.  

One of the many forms of trail magic.  

Date: 271924Mar15

Location: Cherokee, NC

Total Miles: 137.3

Today's Miles: 0

Rented a car and zero'd the day away driving up to Knoxville, TN to retiree myself. Had to turn in my active duty ID card in exchange for a blue retiree card. Didn't think it would be necessary until we found out that we wouldn't be able to sign up for retiree health insurance (TRICARE) until I did that. 

Whoops. All taken care of now. 

Otherwise I mow'd down on McDonalds, listened to podcasts, did some laundry and visited the grocery store today. Typical townie behavior. 

 

Weather is supposed to be beautiful the next few days - check it out:

 

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Day 18

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Date: 261330Mar15

Location: Nantahala Outdoor Center

Total Miles: 137.3

Today's Miles: 5.9

Solid downhill walk for almost six miles today, took a few extra ibuprofen before starting in anticipation. 

Arrived at the NOC in time for lunch, had myself a double bacon cheese burger, french fries, a few cups of coffee and some sweet tea.

Spent the afternoon perusing the NOC 's outdoor store while waiting on our ride. Purchased a new dog leash (Ruffwear Roamer) and some electrolyte tablets (Nuun), also purchaed and printed our backcountry permits for the Smokies. 

Some trail magic came our way, so we're taking a zero tomorrow at a local hotel before pushing out for Fontana, and then: the Smokies. 

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Day 15

Zero day in Franklin, NC - came into town last night, spending the day and evening at a hostel in town. 

 

Stopped by a local outfitter for a new ground mat, probably head back to talk shoes and send off a package back home as well. 

 

Picked up my resupply packages that we'd previously dropped off on our way down, so I've got a fresh supply of food for both myself and the pup.  

Next stop, the NOC (Nantahala Outdoor Center), Fontana Dam, and then Smokies. 

 

Finally, as promised every Monday: my weekly step and stair counts. 

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