I have to say that I didn't sleep well last night. Maybe it was the anticipation of leaving trail. I felt I was ready and that I had accepted it as finally here. Slowly, I got up. I had coffee because that was all I had left. Then Isis ate the last of her food too. I packed up and quiet as a mouse, I got on trail. It was clearing up bit from the morning overcast but it had not rained. As I was leaving, Mike T's brother passed me the last orange and I told him I would have it for second Breakfast on Sunset Ledge.
The mud of course was plentiful as were the rocks that were slick from the morning. The first thing up was a climb of Mt. Grant. It was an easy .8 with decent grades though both hard wood and fur trees. Jonny Appleseed caught up to me and I slowed down just a little. 4.7 miles goes quickly and I didn't want to leave trail too early. I turned to look at the view and almost slipped on a rock. Jonny sat down to tape his feet as he was having foot pain that was not blister related( I thought it was a bunion). His neon orange duct tape was super bright. We took turns leap frogging a little and then I let him get way ahead. I wanted to savor the time. The next 3.9 miles seemed to fly by.
As we approached the ledges, Labeled sunset ledge on the map, I thought it should be renamed for the plural. We chose one for Second Breakfast but it was not the one apparently. Then we continued to navigate over them as the day hikers were pouring in. I kept to myself so I did not ruin these moments I was experiencing. It was not long now until I saw it... The end.
I stopped and for a moment I froze and looked back. Then I looked forward again at the cars and the people every where. Everyone was laughing and moving around so fast. Do I have to go forward? Can I just wait a minute? I'm really not ready for this. All that stuff about acceptance, forget it. I want to keep going. I want to stay on trail! But instead, I walked forward into the noise and I just started to cry. I looked at Jonny Appleseed who was sitting on the ground waiting for his ride and said that I didn't expect to get so emotional over my ending. This continued to spill out of me when my parents came. I was overwhelmed by food and dogs, and emotions, and heat, and memories, and I could not put anything into words. After I changed in the woods, I cried and cried on the ground and tried to eat a sandwich which seemed to be an EPIC fail. I want to go home was all I could say. What I really wanted to say was let me stay in the quiet, I am not ready for the noise of real life and I'm way too overwhelmed by everyone right now. Once I came around and back to myself a little, we loaded up the car and I was on my way home...
Division Eight... Started. To be continued in 2016
I'm not sure if I can accurately put into words how much the trail has changed me. I feel stronger now than I ever have. I feel I have a new appreciation for a less complicated life and I have less tolerance for the unkind and selfish acts of people. At the same time too I feel really overwhelmed still by the world around me. I like the slower times on the trail. The basics... I'm going to get up and walk today. My only responsibility is to care for myself and for Isis. I don't have to worry about what I look like or how I dress. I just have to walk and enjoy the world around me. It's hard to do that in the real world because it's so loud and cold sometimes. Give me the warmth of a fire on my toes and less in your face opinions of people who barely matter. Give me fun conversations around a picnic table or just sitting the ground rather than trying to compete for attention and hoping that someone notices me. The trail changed me for the better and I hope that I can carry some of these feeling with me throughout the rest of my life.
I'm not done with the Long Trail yet... Planning for 2016 starts in a few weeks after a rest.
I'm not sure of my future in the Whites... I'll hike them but how serious I remain, remains to be seen. There is a BIG world out there beyond the Whites just begging me to come see it.
I've been home for a little over 24 hours... Eaten a lot but trying not to gain back the 10 pounds I lost. I have yet to turn on the TV.
If any one is interested in viewing my pictures they have been set to public only Facebook Page. jus follow the link to the right. Thanks for ready my story but really, it has only just begun. :)