I suggested in my last entry that I would follow up with a post reflecting on my hike. This is that post.
Saturday, 7 June 2014. Stealth camped, beautiful night under the stars. Trail magic at Loft Mountain just before noon; hot dog and drink for lunch. 30 minutes later, ice cream and drinks at the Loft Mountain Store. Stealth camped again at mile 895. This was my last night in the woods.
Monday, 9 June 2014. My last day of hiking. I had hopes of a quick recovery for my knee. I had strained my right knee a month earlier; it ached for a week or more, but gradually the pain went away. I was able to hike without favoring that knee. So, hoping for the best, I actually made a hotel reservation for the Skyland Resort, 17 miles away. Unfortunately, on my first climb at 7am, the pain in my left knee was still there. The hike that day was fortunately easy, but it was soon obvious that I was not going to make 17 miles. I canceled the reservation, and slowly made my way to the Big Meadows Wayside, mile 919.4, which I reached at noon. On the way, I decided I needed a couple of days to reflect on my injury, so I called Mike at Front Royal Hostel, mile 960. He picked my up at 1pm.
Wednesday, 11 June 2014. I spent 2 nights at the hostel. It was good mental therapy, talking with other hikers, and preparing myself for leaving the trail. It was obvious that I was not going to go any further, though I did not see it myself! My right heel was just as painful now as when I first injured it. Hiking 18-20+ miles per day on it was lousy therapy. Both knees ached, but the pain in my left knee finally caused my decision to end my journey.
I had Mike give me a ride to Dulles Airport, in Washington. I landed in RI at 6:30pm, and my son picked me up at the airport.
Thursday, 19 June 2014. My knees and heel still hurt. I hobble around my house, as I did on the trail. Interesting…
Thank you to my family and friends! They have all been wonderful and supportive. They have all, to a person, congratulated me for what I accomplished and not that I failed to walk the entire AT. I am proud of the miles that I DID hike, but still sad that I left early. My trip started in Georgia on 25 March 2014, with the approach trail and first few miles of the AT. I spent a total of 77 days on the AT.
Hiking the AT is DIFFICULT! Yet, I miss it dearly. It offered a daily challenge, both physically and mentally. The rewards were many: new friends, beautiful vistas, the simple success of completing a day’s hike.
I put the hike in perspective. I have a wonderful life. I have a loving family. I accomplished many things in my life, and added the 920 miles of the AT to that list.
Curious George had a great adventure, but his hiking gear is now clean and stored away…