Saturday, August 15, 2009

Katahdin + 2

2 years ago today.....

Two years ago today, at approximately this time (~11:00 AM), I was completing the longest physical and mental journey of my life. I was setting my hands upon the sign that read "Northern Terminus of the Appalachian Trail". I can still vividly remember walking up to the sign, falling to my knees and resting my hands and head on it. I thought about all of the hard days I had endured, all of the times I had to force myself to keep going despite being miserable, the day on top of Mt. Greylock where I actually had decided to quit, but couldn't get a cell phone I kept going. I thought about all of these things. How I did come one cell phone bar away from going home. How I probably wouldn't have survived Maine, without Mike McDaris sticking with me for all 270+ miles. How, besides Mike, that my late father was more or less my only hiking partner for all 2174 miles, despite the obvious lack of conversation . I thought about all of the good people I had met, the amazing places I stayed, and the memories that I would now carry with me for my entire life. I remember being so overwhelmed that I was laughing, crying and screaming all at the same time. Then, just like that, I walked with Mike back down the 5 miles to the bottom of Mt. Katahdin, hitched into Millinocket, and made my way to my new life at Penn State. I had set out in early May to walk the 2174 miles of the Appalachian Trail from Georgia to Maine. I had recently endured 2 of the hardest years of my life, and decided that I needed to simply "go walking"......go back to living "simply". Over the course of the next 107 days my entire perspective on life was changed and I came out of the experience ready to start my proverbial "next chapter" and be grateful for each and every new adventure that came my way.

I look back today and am still incredibly humbled by the experience. I also look back and think how fortunate I've been since that day. I have been able to thru-hike the Colorado Trail, spend two months in Antarctica, spend 3 weeks in New Zealand hiking, and take part in several amazing trail and road races all over the country. I was able to see my sister get married. I have been able to study for 2 years at an amazing university, under an amazing man (and advisor) and spend 3 weeks studying ice cores at the National Ice Core Lab in Denver. I have made so many new and incredible friends. I have learned so much since that day 2 years ago. I am grateful to have had these opportunities and by no means take them for granted. I only hope that I continue to truly "seize" life the way that it is meant to be seized, and experience as much as I can before my brief candle burns out.

Springer Mountain (Southern Terminus)
Half Gallon Challenge (Half-Way Point in PA)
One of my Favorite Spots - Franconia Ridge, NH
Me and Mike 2 years ago today
Thru-Hike Video

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