Editor’s Note: Blue Ridge Outdoors contributor Chris Gallaway was thru-hiking the Appalachian Trail and contributing a blog to BRO when tragedy struck his family. This is his final dispatch. Read his other dispatches from the trail: A Cold StartTrail MagicDifficult WinterMonumentsSpring!Family, and Virginia is for Limpers.

The news from my hike is rather difficult. On my third day into Maine my parents called to tell me that my little brother Zach had died in a motorcycle accident. I traveled home from Rangeley, Maine and have been with my family since the 4th. We are stretched between grief, the unreality of this situation, and the simple business of all that must be done in this time. We are holding a memorial service for Zach this Saturday in Birmingham, and at the moment we’re trying to plan and prepare for that.

I do plan to resume and finish my hike. It will be challenging to figure out how this life change fits with the journey I was on, but I hope that the trail will provide time and space for me to process this grief and to remember Zach. I’ll be flying back to Maine next Monday with about 200 miles left on the trail. My fiance, Sunshine, will join me in the town of Caratunk and we will finish the final week of walking together.