Ed Garvey Shelter [mile 2179.0]
Here we are. My last night on the Appalachian Trail, and what a long long long strange trip it’s been.
I was thinking about doing a ‘what I learned’ type of post, because what I’ve learned has been legion. But you know, if you come out here, the things you learn will be different. The trail teaches each of us the things we need to learn, and my things aren’t your things. That’s part of why the mantra of the hiking community is ‘Hike your own hike.’ In broader terms, Live and let live.
Am I different? No, not really. But the quiet has helped me pinpoint some things I’d like to work on.
And in six miles, give or take, I’ll have finished my bucket list! (Except maybe for those damned ponies.) At least the parts of it I have any say in. Winning the lottery is still on there. (At which point I’m jetting to new Zealand to do the Te Araroa, with a MUCH lighter pack.)
So. Last night was cold (naturally), but not as bad as Tuesday. My water didn’t freeze overnight. The day was gray November, though. It was raw and chill and never warmed up much. A weather change is coming. There’s a good chance I’ll be finishing in the rain (because the trail is never easy), and by Saturday it will be full-blown winter in Harpers Ferry. I’m getting out just in time.
Today… I walked! I know the trail is never easy, but today the terrain was. Superhighway and footpath. No obstacle course, no jungle gym. Just walking (with a side of rocks). I chatted with a dad and his two kids who are out for a few days. He asked one question I haven’t gotten from anybody who wasn’t thru-hiking NOBO, and certainly not this far south: “So how was the Mahoosuc Notch?” I love that I now have opinions about this stuff.
I passed what really might be my last memorial. It’s interesting being back in Civil War country. Makes me want to go home and watch the Ken Burns series again.
And it’s weird thinking about what I’ll do back home—car inspections and leaky faucets and chimney cleaning and house painting. Christmas shopping! That’s all become so alien. Luckily I don’t start work again for another week or so. I need a few days of transition time. And Thanksgiving’s in there, too.
Around noon tomorrow, the grand adventure finally ends. It’s been miraculous having you along for the ride.