MagazineAugust 2008And it's only just begun. . .

And it’s only just begun. . .

It’s strange to think that I’ve come over 1200 miles and yet still have close to 1000 left to hike. Reaching the halfway mark can honestly a bit deflating when you realize just how far you still have left to go. But honestly, that’s when the hiking starts to get really good.
Right now my body is tired, VERY tired. I’ve walked more miles in one month than most people walk in a year or in multiple years. What would feel really great right now is to just take a break, take long-baths, and take-out. . . lots of take-out. What would not feel good right now is to push out another month of 35 mile days, day after day after day. But that’s what my heart wants. That is what my mind wants. Despite the discomfort, I want to make it to Georgia.
Mentally, I love the process of breaking down and daily having to push through discouragement and doubt. In my opinion it is the second half of the trail where the real lessons are learned and the biggest hurdles are overcome. For all practical purposes this is where the hike begins.
Today it rained all morning, and then that rain turned into a downpour for 3 hours this afternoon. Mileage wise it was a shorter day, but mentally the journey felt very long. It is on days such as this that I focus on the reasons I am out here hiking. I am out here because I love it and because I feel like I was made to hike. I am out here for Meredith, a young woman whose miles were cut short before her path was complete. I am out here to encourage others to experience the woods, to bring a positive light to the wilderness that has recently been darkened by tragic stories. And I am out here quite simply, because this is where I feel like I am supposed to be; until this journey is complete no other place or activity would feel quite right.
When the trial becomes more difficult because of terrain, circumstances, or conditions that’s when the blessings start to flow – it’s the point where I grow, learn, give everything I have and gain something in the process.<br />
Looking back on the first half of the trip I have nothing but positive memories and despite the long days, the past month has passed very quickly. It seemed surreal this week when I was able to enter back into the southeast with my husband. We are both glad to be back in the south.
We are both hoping to have as smooth and memorable as an experience on the second half of our trip as we enjoyed in the first half. But in that optimism, we know that trials await us and that the best way to overcome them is to face them together.
This evening I was met at the trail towards the end of the day by our 4-year old goddaughter Brianna. She had driven over an hour from DC with her grandparents to spend some time with Brew and I and go for a short hike too. Brianna loves to hike! And as Brew and I walked out and back on a mile of trail I had already completed (I would only do that for Brianna), we laughed and smiled as our goddaughter raced ahead of us, picked up every fallen leaf, stood captivated by a bunny, and became devastated when it was time for the hike to end.<p/>
I’m hiking because I want Brianna to be able to hike and to enjoy the woods as I do, free of fear and with wonderment. After all, tonight she told me that she too was going to hike the Appalachian Trail, oh, and that if I set a record. . . maybe she would beat that too! I hope she does.

Places to Go, Things to See: