On Friday, 1 July 2016, I took my last step on the Appalachian Trail. This was obviously a tough decision, but best for my health.
I crossed the Hudson River on Tuesday, June 28th. I walked another, fairly easy, 45 miles the remainder of the week, and reached Connecticut Friday morning. My son picked me up, and took me home for a planned rest and family visit for the 4th of July weekend.
What I kept to myself, was that I’ve had a brace on my left knee for the past 8 weeks, the same knee that forced me to leave the trail in 2014. My knee held up fine until last week, but I started to get a pain as I walked through the tough, rocky sections… I was in camp on Wednesday, and a gentleman my age was limping around after his day’s hike. I had this sudden thought, that he looks just like I feel!
So, I had 2 days of easy hiking to evaluate where I’ve been, and try to be realistic about my goals. I hiked 9 weeks this year, and 532 miles. Both accomplishments I am proud of, yet I was hiking much slower than my pace 2 years ago. My health was catching up with me… This year, I finished the AT in Virginia, and the states of West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, New York, and reached New England by setting foot into Connecticut. In total, I walked over 1455 miles of the AT.
With this in mind, and hours of beautiful weather and forest to contemplate my plan, I reluctantly decided that choosing my time and place to leave was a better alternative than to continue a few more days or weeks, with a similar, but worse outcome of damage to my knee. The trail will be there, if the calling ever comes again.
It has taken me a week of reflection to finally sit down and write this note to family and friends. Your support has been wonderful, and a major reason I persevered. Though I did not reach my goal, I learned a lot about myself along the way. I did things that even in my 20’s, I’d be proud to accomplish. I climbed hills and rocks when I was physically and mentally exhausted, and smiled at the top! I saw 5 rattlesnakes and 4 bears in the wild. I proved that I could and did survive for weeks in the woods, and love it…
Thanks to you all!
Alan aka Curious George
You are an inspiration to all of oldsters who think that we can not do things like this as we were when we were younger. Thumbs up for proving us wrong and congratulations on how far you traveled. See you in the fall in Florida. — Paula Down
you are my friend because we met on the AT… not while you have to finish the whole trail!
Lothar an Matchi said… absolutely respect for this “big” man.
I’m excited for next year when you maybe come over to germany.
–Bernward aka IsntBlack
Thanks for the kind words! I enjoyed the journey, but I am comfortable with my decision. I’m looking forward to visiting with you, and drinking some more schnapps! Tell Lothar and Matchi that we hope to see them as well. Take care, Alan