I’ve been back home for four full days now and I have to say I am enjoying having so many options of ways to spend my time. I have been gardening, working out, reading, grilling, watching a little TV (mostly ESPN), and helping Princess with some of her reclaimed furniture projects.
That being said I do miss the trail and am already looking forward to future backpacking trips. I don’t want to do any more really long hikes, unless the Princess goes with me, but I am interested in shorter trips like the 220-mile John Muir Trail in California and of course I will hike the AT near my home in Lexington, Virginia. Hiking the trail made me appreciate the state of Virginia even more than I did before. It’s a diverse state with lots of beautiful mountains and great hiking trails.
Our friends and my hiking partners for much of the trail, Whiskers and Rocket, finished on August 7th and they posted some great photos on Facebook which brought back a lot of good memories. Here’s their Katahdin summit photo. I first met W&R at the Aquone Hostel south of the Nantahala Outdoor Center in North Carolina. I ran into them again in Virginia and we hiked together off and on from Virginia to New Jersey. The Princess and I really love them and hope to see them in the not-too-distant future.
Here’s my friend Postman’s summit photo. Isn’t it great! Postman is a fantastic hiker and although I can’t keep up with him mile-for-mile, we were together off and on from Siler Bald in North Carolina (where I came upon him sitting beside the trail) to Stratton, Maine where we hitchhiked to the trail head and he took off to catch up to his long-time hiking partner Buffalo, who can keep up with him. Postman is a really friendly and intelligent young man who will go far in life. Postman summitted Katahdin on August 2nd. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see him there, just missing him by two days.
Finally, here’s Lady Grey’s summit photo. We hiked together in New York and Connecticut until she jumped ahead to New Hampshire. (She had already hiked Massachusetts and her home state of Vermont). Lady Grey is a high school counselor and a very strong hiker. She has a terrific blog at http://www.trailjournals.com – just search for Lady Grey from the home page. I followed her blog after she jumped to New Hampshire to pick up tips on what the hiking would be like ahead of me.
After reflecting on my Appalachian Trail experience, here are a few initial thoughts:
– I am very pleased and thankful that I was able to meet the challenge that I set for myself. I feel a great sense of accomplishment about fulfilling my dream of thru-hiking the AT.
– The weather has an enormous effect on my outlook and enjoyment of various sections of the trail. For instance, the great weather in Maine makes it one of my favorite states, even though it was physically very tough.
– I missed the Princess and the rest of my family a lot and I doubt that I will do another long hike, unless the Princess does it with me. So I hope there is another Camino in our future!
– The scenery along the Appalachian Trail is beautiful but after seeing a million (or more) trees you can begin to take it for granted…until you hike above treeline or to an overlook where you get a breathtaking view.
– The people you meet along the trail make all the difference. Pig Pen, Oxy, Whiskers and Rocket, Postman and Buffalo, Lady Grey, Inchworm, Tin Cup, Isaac, Eric, Craig, and Ben, and others are people that I will always remember and I will be very happy to see any of them in the future.
That’s all for now but I hope to write a few more posts and the whole AT experience sinks in!