Laying awake in the Fontana Hilton, I listened to someone's watch tick. I listened to snores. I listened to the hot cars and rice rockets take the curves near by. What is the AT to me? Why am I here? When is it time to throw in the towel? When does one push on?
I crawled out of my half sleep, taking my quilt with me. I stepped outside. The cool of the night is different then that in the shelter. The trees towered into the clear sky. I saw the Milkyway above me. The Big Supper pointing to Katahdin. Dracco the Dragon and the Northern Crown, the guardian and the reward. The constellations taking new meaning to me.
I lay down on the gravel bench. I pondered those questions. I'm not out here for the money of it. I'm not here for the fun. I'm not out here to chase tail or get high. I'm not out here because it's easy. It is far from easy to quit. It is far to easy not to leave a good job, a decent life, a good group of friends, a good fellowship of believers. To quit? Not on a good day and never on a bad day. That's selling myself short. That's selling the fellowship of the trail short. That's selling every reason I quit my job, left my family, said goodbye to friends; short.
Let's look at what I have over come. Blisters, I identified the hot spots and put those to rest early. Monkey Butt stick to the rescue, it's a miracle stick. Okay, a knock off version of it. Next rain, I learned first ID the right spot, stake out well, and keep the ground tarp under the rainfly's drip zone. Rain, part two, hike smart, layer and shelter up before one gets chilled, always ask to have room made in a shelter even if it looks occupied. Third, sore muscles, these are a given. Hiking 5 miles or 15 miles is hard, especially over mindless ups and downs over rocks, forest duff, and logs. Doing it day after day is tougher. Muscles will be sore. That's why God mandated a rest day for His people in Deuteronomy 5:13- 15 "six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. You shall do no work...". My first nero's were well timed to let my muscles rest. Next came a dull knife. I lent it to someone to open a package. It came back dull. I'm at a resort. Resorts have kitchens, kitchens have knives, knives need sharpening. I just asked if I could sharpen my knife. Dull knife is now sharp.
Issue after issue, resolved. The one that's holding me back is the pack. Why should I let it slow me? I could quit, but why after looking at what I've overcome. The solution is to say goodbye to REI, say goodbye to Fontana (for a couple days), get a shuttle back to the NOC. At the NOC, I'll get fitted with the right pack, send the new old one back to REI with a love letter, and rehike a section. I'll pop into Fontana for a shower and an ice cream check, the mail (send the package enroute back), and press on.
This journey isn't about anyone item, gear, person, event, any xyz. This journey is about overcoming, about the refining of me as a person, a character, a believer of humanity and of a Provider God who is creative and a farther character who loves His children, who love me. This journey is spiced with heroes like Wired on her triple crown hike; about characters like Rodeo who broke her back 6 months ago and is hiking on; about Gamer covered in tats and hiking to raise awareness for the Semperfy Fund; about those who hike for themselves in retirement and those who are fresh out of college. This journey is...