Saturday, August 27, 2016

Wedding Bells In The Air

Not MY wedding bells... don't worry. It is officially wedding season, and that means many weekends away from the trail visiting various venues to watch my friends tie the knot! As you can imagine, this comes with a whole mess of logistics... who is going to pick me up in New Hampshire or Maine? Who will drive me back to the trail? How many miles will I have to hike to catch back up with the trail family after I miss a day or two? But honestly the hardest part is reinserting myself into "normal" life and then going back to the trail after a small taste of things like showers, my own bed, and seeing friends and family. I am definitely in a stage of the trail where I really want to be done. I don't want to quit, but I am also ready for the next part of my life. However, I still have seven or eight weeks of hiking, so I'm definitely nowhere near the end. Last weekend I had a particularly hard time going back to the trail. Why go back to living semi-uncomfortably in the woods when I could just stay in the regular world?

Fortunately, I have received so many reminders as to why I am doing this, and why I need to finish. Whenever I am feeling down about the trail, I try to remind myself that there are so many people who would give everything to hike this trail, but feel they are unable for whatever reason. It is for these people that I need to keep hiking. Another reminder came in the form of the NBC Nightly News audio podcast this week which was telling the story of an eight year old boy who received a double hand transplant after losing his hands to an infection at an early age. He was quoted as saying: "Before you quit and say 'I give up,' try everything first." If this little boy knows the importance of not quitting, for any reason - even while facing such adversity, I can certainly hike this trail. So these are the things I am going to remember, when I leave the comforts of home life and familiar faces over the next few weekends.

In other news, I have completed all of Vermont, walked over 1,300 miles, and am currently in the White Mountains! Everyone has warned us about how tough the Whites are, and also to slow down our miles to enjoy them and to prevent injury. No one was wrong. The hiking in NH is TOUGH! Definitely the hardest part of the trail thus far. My right knee is giving me a little bit of trouble, but nothing in comparison to the pain in the Smokies. I just have to keep reminding myself to use proper technique, do my stretches/exercises, and take shorter days through this hard terrain. We were doing 20-24 mile days through Massachusetts and Vermont, and are now doing 10-15 mile days in New Hampshire. Mostly this is to prevent excruciatingly long days, but also so we can enjoy the beauty! The Whites are totally unlike anything we've hiked so far. So many of the peaks, and whole ridge lines, are above tree-line. This means we have constant 360 degree views for hours on end. It also means that with almost every step, the view changes a little bit and provides for a new perspective. It has been so wonderful to enjoy this section of the trail. The challenge of the hiking definitely adds to the beauty of the views! For every section of trail above tree-line, we usually climb two or three thousand feet of elevation to get there. Often with boulder scrambling, or hiking straight down a waterfall, it would seem. One of the best parts of the Whites so far was when I was able to see Camel's Hump and Mt. Mansfield clear as day. So many times I've stood on those mountains and looked east at the Whites. It was an interesting perspective to be doing the opposite this week.

Overall, things are still going well. I plan to slow down even further in the coming week, until we are out of the super difficult hiking, to protect my knees. I think we are estimating a mid to late September summiting of Katahdin! I'm trying my best to stay focused, enjoy these last few hundred miles of New England, and to remember why I came out here and why I need to finish. 


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  2. Dear Daniel,

    Glad to hear you are going to finish your planned journey. So proud of you and your willingness to continue, remember there are MANY people cheering for you, stay focused. Love you lots!!! Memere