This week, I celebrated being on the trail for one month. That means a few things. It means I’ve beat the main drop out point with nearly 50% of hikers having dropped out by the end of Virginia. I’m still alive, hiking has become habitual and I’m having even more fun than I could’ve ever imagined. I was talking to one of my hiker friends the other day and he was saying, “ya know, these are the good ole days. It’ll be stories from this trip that we’ll tell our grandkids about in fifty years”. Now, I’m not saying that every day is all sunshine and daisies. This is really hard and there are definitely days when I think about how easy it would be to quit. In fact, this is probably the hardest thing physically and mentally that I’ve ever done, but each day I just remind myself that I can do anything and with each mile I walk, this becomes more and more true.
It’s funny, because I came out here with the expectation of solitude and self reflection, and while I have gotten a bit of that, I’ve been amazed at how vital the friendships I’ve made have been to the success of this trip. For me and many others I’ve talked to, the people are the best part. I truly hope that I maintain some of these friendships for years to come. These are some of the most kind-hearted, genuine, and generous people I’ve ever met. It’s fascinating to hear everyone’s reason for coming out on the trail. Most of us have our surface level reasons, whether it be that we met someone who did it or had a few months open, but when you get to know people a little better there’s almost always a much deeper reason for their journey. There are a lot of broken people out here. I don’t really know what else to say about that other than it’s oddly beautiful to see us all collectively working together in our individual healing. I hope everyone finds what they’re looking for or at least a sense of peace.
With this week coming to a close, as well as reaching the end of Virginia in the net few days, I find myself sitting in a shelter in the middle of Tropical Storm Kim with some of my new friends mere feet away, writing to you guys and reflecting. I miss home a lot. This past week has definitely been the most difficult one yet, but as the days go on I’m coming to realize that out here in the woods is the most at home I’ve felt in a very long time. I feel safe, loved and confident. I wouldn’t trade this experience for the world.
A few days ago I walked 26.2 miles in celebration of a month in my new home. We woke up early, did 13 miles by one o’clock, got awesome Trail Magic, went a mile out of my way to get a blackberry milkshake, got lost with about eight other people for nearly an hour, then finally made it into camp. It wasn’t easy and I was in quite a bit of pain by the end of the day, but I walked a marathon and I’m darn proud of it. Most people don’t get why I’m out here and that’s fine. But I know I’m exactly where I need to be. I think I’m going to walk another marathon tomorrow.
Well, that’s all for now. I can’t wait to tell you all about next week’s adventures!
I am dedicating this hike to the orphaned children at Heart for Africa in Swaziland. For more information, I hope you visit my fundraising page at: gofundme.com/st984k