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Final Day on the Appalachian Trail | Average Hiker

October 16, 2013

My feet traveled over the trail, but my mind did not register the steps. I had retreated inward, and my mind was turning, flipping quickly from one scenario to the next, ultimately settling on an endpoint I did not want to consider. I would retrace my thoughts back to the beginning and try again. This went on and on until I was mentally exhausted, and could come up with no scenario that did not end at the same place.

I walked into the Highpoint State Park Headquarters and over to a small open window that opened into an office area. Vicki walked towards me asking if she could help, and as I opened my mouth to ask a question big tears began to roll down my face. I held up a finger and turned my back to her, hearing her say “oh no.”

I am not a very emotional person, but I was going home unexpectedly, leaving a journey that brought me so much peace. I had worked hard for the past two months and had a lot of emotion and effort tied up in this trail. I stood with my back to her, head bowed, as hot tears washed down my face, and I gathered myself.

No regrets is something I try to base my decisions on, but this choice would be different. I knew I would regret leaving and not finishing, but I was committed to my obligations. I knew I was making the necessary decision based on personal circumstances at home. I was still sad I was stopping though, so I let my frustrations just run out through my tears.

I really can’t complain. I had been afforded the opportunity to spend two fantastic months in some of the most beautiful parts of our country. It had been hard, and at times painful, but I had encountered fantastic weather, few bugs, interesting people, and insights into my limits.

I love to hike, but now it was time to take care of responsibilities, move forward, and see what came next.

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