Thursday, August 25, 2005

August 25 - A month later

August 25, 2005
Despite what you think of Bill Bryson's "A Walk in the Woods," whether his friend Katz is real, whether he is truly depicting the AT experience, one has to admit that he is a gifted writer. As Ryan was finishing up his re-reading of the book today, he read off a quote to me that rang true for both of us.
"I had come to realize that I didn't have any feelings toward the AT that weren't confused and contradictory. I was weary of the trail, but still strangely in its thrall; found the endless slog tedious but irresistible; grew tired of the boundless woods but admired their boundlessness; enjoyed the escape from civilization and ached for its comforts. I wanted to quit and to do this forever, sleep in a bed and in a tent, see what was over the next hill and never see a hill again. All of this all at once, every moment, on the trail or off."
The trail was fun and pain, joy and misery, all at once. If we were still out there, headed north, we would have close to a month of walking to go. We know we would be excited, but tired, wanting to reach the end and not. The trail tugs at us, but civilization sure is nice. We are sad, still, to not be out on the trail with our friends, wandering through the northern woods, and yet, happy to know we'll have the chance to spread out our experience, enjoy the trail in short bursts and at a more leisurely pace over the next few years. We will never stop thinking about the trail, one way or another, remembering the good and bad, and I suppose, really, that was what it was, and is, all about :-)

My body still hurts. -a P.S. by Snowman

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

August 10 - Two weeks off the trail

August 10, 2005
Well, it's been almost 2 weeks since we got off the trail for this year. Amazing how much we've managed to cram into those two weeks as we attempt to emerge back into "normal" society. In a way, it feels like forever ago that we were out hiking on the AT.
But on the other hand, my body still aches for the exertion of the trail. My legs wonder why I'm doing all this sitting, with 30-minute intervals at 8- to 9-minute mile pace mixed in now and then, versus the nice 20- to 30-minute pace they're used to moving at all day long. My heart still yearns to be out following the white blazes, especially on these beautiful blue-sky days. But my mind, well, it admits that it's nice to be able to shower every day, put on clean clothes, eat fresh fruits and vegetables and not smell. :-)
We went over to the Inn at Long Trail in Killington, VT on Monday to pick up a mail drop we had sent there previously. We ran into a few thru-hikers as well as some hikers doing the Long Trail (which runs 270 miles from the MA/VT border to the VT/Canada border), and were able to do a little trail magic--giving away some of our food, driving them to the PO and the outfitter--and catch up a bit on the trail. Many of our hiking buddies--Beantown, Hairball & Snowbunny, Hopeful & Redwing--had already passed through there a week ago. And Patch had not yet come through. Still, it was nice to be there and help out as we could. We also left a cooler with drinks, candy and crackers at one of the VT road crossings, and we hope that some of our friends will find it and enjoy it.
It was bittersweet to drop the hikers off at the trailhead on Tuesday morning, and watch them shoulder their packs and head off into the woods, following the white blazes north. A bit of yearning and sadness to not be following, and yet, the knowledge that we have exciting times ahead of us too as we move on with our lives, and the acknowledgement that we will be coming to this spot again, hopefully next year, as we continue our journey on the trail...

Monday, August 1, 2005

August 1 - Ryan chimes in from NC

August 1, 2005
So, how does it feel when your dream dies? Honestly, pretty crappy. How does it feel when you've crushed someone else's dream? Even crappier. We dreamt of hiking 2,174.9 miles in one season. We disrupted our lives and took a risk to do so. We fell short. Why? Because my body fell apart. Not the way we planned it.
We're in North Carolina at Danielle's parents' house relaxing and picking up our car. We're going to hit the road tomorrow to head north, visit my parents and start anew. With a few days to reflect on the last four months, it's been a roller coaster. I'm so proud of what we accomplished, and I'm so amazed by all the people we met and friends we made...but, I feel empty, unfulfilled. We didn't make it to Katahdin, and that hurts. It's my fault, that hurts even more. In the back of my mind, I keep thinking that I'll see a doctor this week, he'll hand me the magic pill, and we'll be back hiking again. Not likely. Right now, my back hurts. It's tight and sore, but I'm certain that I can straighten that out. My feet, honestly, I think are kind of screwed up. My right foot especially is in bad shape. Who knew that all that walking with a pack would do such a thing? That bit of info definitely was not in the brochure. And because of all, I'm relieved. I'm glad to not be hiking. I know that my body is happy, and that it's ready to get fixed. Then, I look at Danielle. She so badly wanted to thruhike. I couldn't go with her. That's what hurts the most.
Here's the good news: we're ready to move on...or, we are moving on. It still hurts, and we're still sad. But best of all, we're still together. Everyone said that this hike would make us or break us as a couple. But, I don't really think it did either. We're definitely not broken, and we're definitely not defined by it. It was just four months of our time together. It was the best four months. I learned so much about myself and about us. In short, we can get through anything...whatever the outcome. I'm not sure we would have learned that if we had made it to Katahdin. Sure, it would have been nice to have finished on a high note, but I think in the coming days, weeks, months and years, we will look back on these four months and 1500 miles as a time that really brought us together and made us realize that we need each other more than we ever knew. She's my best friend, adventure partner, and a whole lot more.
So, look for us on the coast of the woods, on the trails, and in the snow. Or look for us in other far flung and different places. For instance, the Long Trail is only about 270 miles...