Sunday, May 13, 2007
The End of an Adventure
About 3:30 this afternoon I pulled into my driveway. On Thursday, Friday, and Saturday I had hiked 45 miles of the Appalachian Trail in New Jersey and New York. This time, for the first and final time, the trail won. I left home looking forward to a rather benign section of 235 miles over 16 days, but I left the trail exhausted, conquered in three days by seemingly endless steep, rocky mountains. Terrain like that (above right), and much steeper, just kept coming until I had no more to give. Mother Nature had her victory over this 62 year old who still thought he could hang in there with the kids. But no hard feelings, Mother. I respect you.
So ends the long trek that started on top of Springer Mountain, Georgia, on March 20, 1999. Through snow in the high mountains of Georgia and North Carolina, through the wilderness of Southern Virginia where I once got lost, through a night where I sat out a hurricane on a mountaintop near Richmond, through close encounters with a copperhead and a timber rattler, it ends in New York where my last view was that of the Hudson river near West Point. I finished over 90 days and 1,400 miles of hiking, but came up almost 800 miles short of my goal in Maine. So now I join the huge throng who shared that objective and were outlasted by Mother. But it was a good run, and my regrets are few.
If you ever meet anyone who has hiked the entire Appalachian Trail, you should know that that person has world class fortitude. Both physically and mentally it is one of the more difficult challenges one could accept. My hat is off to all of the approximately 10,000 people who have accomplished the feat since 1934.
Perhaps it's time to take up cycling, and, of course, continue my blog. Life goes on.