I pushed myself up and over more baseball sized rocks. The map said level, hardly flat, I thought. The guide book showed a border crossing, I didn't pay attention to the other landmarks. I guzzled water. Later to realize, I missed the context of the landmark. I needed that water 2 miles later.
Harper's Ferry is a National Park and town in one, a strange blend of government owned and privatization of business. I followwd the blue blazes up to the ATC. After chillin in the hiker lounge I got my picture taken and my second thru-hiker number, 773.
I paged through the photo album. The Van Clan's numbers were mixed colors. Some had sectioned hike, while others registered as thru-hikers. I saw but 3 others I had started with in Georgia. Everyone else I'd met in the last 2 or 3 weeks.
By the time I decided to leave my right knee belly ached giving me the sign I needed to call it a short day. I found out there was room at the Teahorse Hostel, half a mile away. I limped over.
In the morning, I stalled getting out, the knee still aching. I went back to the ATC and hit the post office to mail back a few more items. Since I use the Bible App more the paper back version, that went. A few other small items headed back as well. My base weight is now 19 pounds. If I gave up the electronics I could drop another 2 pounds but, that'd mean you wouldn't be reading entries like this.
I made way back to the AT and through the historical district. I debated on an ice cream before deciding the lines were to long to wait. I wanted to make miles, all of 3 trail miles and 1 up to the hostel. I hobbled on. A knee brace given to me by another hiker getting off the trail eased my pain. I didn't vitamin I up. I needed to.
I'm psychologically halfway. I'm at a great jump off point. The journey is far from over. Hobs swung by. I ran into his bride, of many years, at the ATC. His visit alone showed me how important this journey of mine is to others on the trail, my trail family, and even those at home. The fact he came by shows that more then anything else. He travels light base weight of 11 lbs, 25 max with full load. By the way he's in his 60's.
The hostel manager said many folks use this place as a decision maker. Many leave for one reason or another.
Physically my knee aches. I've read up on some stretches I can do, which I haven't been doing. That's the invincible thru-hiker in me attitude coming out verses reality. I'm going to try to take it slow over the next week and throttle back to less then 15 miles a day.
Psychologically, I'm no where near to giving up. Quitting isn't a word in my vocabulary. I'm not stronger then that, I've looked at options and quitting leads down a trail I just don't want any part of. There are options. Slowing down is one and if I don't make it to summit Mnt K, I can flip flop to finish. I have miles and I have time. Miles don't equal time.
I'm on my way. One step at a time. One day at a time. I am a thru-hiker on the AT. I daily embrace the lessons of the trail with gratitude and thanksgiving. I daily take time to see that which is around me. I daily listen to my body, my gear, and the trail. I daily look for ways to encourage others who are down and those who are feeling good. I take time to learn from others and where requested be the resource for others to learn from.
I am an Appalachian Thru-hiker.