Well, this is it. By this time next week I will have summited Mount Katahdin and be on a plane back to Virginia. The goal I’ve been working at for a year and a half is only 115 miles away.
This morning we head into what’s known as the “100 Mile Wilderness”, which I have always thought is a funny name, since I’d pretty much say the whole trail is a 2,189.4 mile wilderness, but I guess I’m not the one who gets to make the decisions around here. It’s the last stretch of this trail, known for having no towns, roads, outside communication, or civilization of any sort. It’s just us and the trail for 100 miles, then we submerge from the forest to Katahdin in our sights. I’ve heard it’s rocky, “rooty”, and muddy (like the rest of Maine), but other than that, it’s an easy section of Maine. This is all relative, of course, since Maine is the only state rated 10/10 for difficulty, but still exciting to hear. I’m just a few rocks and roots away.
It doesn’t feel real that I’m here. This is a dream I’ve had for such a long time and I’ve seen myself up on top of Katahdin countless times, but now it’s actually going to happen…and soon! To be honest, I don’t feel like I deserve it. This whole trip I’ve felt a little bit like the kid that’s just tagging along, it hasn’t actually done the stuff the big kids have. And this is true. I started in Damascus and have close to 500 miles less than everyone else under my belt. Katahdin is not the end for me. While I’ve been very happy with my “flip-flop” trip and know I had to do it this way because of graduation, I do kind of feel like a cheater. This may seem like I’m making a mountain out of a mole hill (lol), but I can’t shake the feeling that I know is there. I’ve been trying to change my mindset. I’m attempting to think of Katahdin as my big finale and the rest as 500 bonus miles. That’s dumb, I know. I’ll get back to you on how that goes.
It’s scary that we’re at the end (my fake end, their real end). This whole week we’ve been very real with each other and revealed things we don’t tell the rest of the world. I’m in awe of their bravery and ability to face and overcome their obstacles. Between Yaeger, The Law, Wildcat, and me, we’ve been through a lot. They’re able to talk about these events and how they’re affected them and how they’ve used the trail to overcome. I usually sit there in silence for these talks, because I can’t say the same for myself. Not only have I not overcome my biggest obstacle, but I’m not even brave enough to talk to them about it yet, nor you guys. There’s an event that I’ve had trapping me in a cage of fear for many years now and I can’t even say with certainty that I’ve faced it at all. I’ve dealt with a lot, learned a ton about myself, and gained confidence I didn’t know I had, but the journey is far from over. That scares me. I’m jealous of their honesty. This week I hope I can get enough courage to be honest with them, even if it means crying (something that I hate to do and that scares me more than just about anything). Maybe it’ll take the last 500 miles that I’m walking solo to face myself and not use others to distract from what I know is most important. Maybe this won’t be overcome in 500 miles, or 2189.4 for that matter. I guess only time will tell.
This week we will try to be present 100% of the time. I want to notice every flower, bug, tree, and root that I trip on. I also want to actively listen to everything and everyone around me. It reminds me of a line that I often think about from “Our Town” by Thornton Wilder. The character Emily is saying goodbye to the world and in desperation asks the stage manager, “do any human beings ever realize life while they live it?-every, every minute?”. The answer is no, we don’t. We can’t. But this week I’m going to try to anyway.
The past two days we’ve spent at a lake house near Monson, Maine. We water skied, gone tubing, kayaking, canoeing, and watched someagical sunsets. Most importantly, we’ve been actively enjoying our time left together. Once again, our hosts have been wonderful, giving, beautiful people. This was the perfect way to spontaneously spend our last zero day. I feel ready and hungry to take on The 100 Mile Wilderness and Katahdin.
There’s only a few hundred miles left and we are unbelievably close to the fundraising goal for Heart For Africa. Thank you so much to everyone who has donated and gotten involved and interested in their mission. Raising money for them and getting others interested is probably the most important thing I’ve ever done. I encourage everyone to read Janine’s blog posts (links below) from the past few weeks, as there have been some important and heartbreaking things going on at the orphanage. Also, I’d like to ask for you to share my blog and donation page on your social media sites to help me make the final push to my goal.
Thanks again for all the support through my whole journey! Next week I will have summited the greatest mountain- Mt Katahdin.