April 27, 2004
Miles To Go
April 27, 2004
Miles To Go
Angel’s Rest is a beautiful, serene viewpoint looking down from 2,000 foot above Pearisburg, VA. The hiking has been been pretty today, but my feet really hurt from the heavy milage of the prior two days and the constant chaffing of my wet boots and socks. I know there is a hellacious downhill coming up, too, but I’m here with Green One taking pictures and trying to fix the moment into my memory because my brother just told me he is getting off the trail.
We don’t call it quitting. Most people do hold out some thoughts that they’ll hike more of the AT someday. But getting off the trail in D’s mind means his thru-hike is over. He told me that he’s been thinking about it for 500 miles. He’s been taking his time but this final mess of wet and cold weather helped finalize his decision. In his words “My best day on the trail is no better than my average day doing chores around my house and hanging out with my wife & dog.”
I respect his decision, and having been through the same horrible conditions recently, and can easily understand his thoughts. It’s the right choice for him and I’m going to miss him a ton—but I am going on with my hike. He has added humor, intelligent & witty conversation, distraction and great company to my hike. I’ve camped with him for 44 out of 46 nights out here and my adventure has been so much better for his presence. I love you and will miss you out here, bro.
To fill in the missing piece, it turns out Green One and Rockhound didn’t stay in the shelter where we had lunch. They hung out in their sleeping bags until dark and then decided to night-hike the hell out of there, determined to make the 24 miles to Pearisburg. I found them the next morning, camped in the middle of the trail, a few miles past my shelter. It sounds like it was hell.
We had some excellent Chinese food tonight, though! I watched my brother put away 4 full plates from the buffet as, apparently, getting that decision off his chest freed up some space inside him! The hotel room is littered with cookies, ice cream, candy, drinks and drying equipment as we enjoy our last night together as thru-hikers.
I have called friends, parents, and Heather and am on a shocked but even keel. Rockhound is going to walk out of town with me tomorrow. Jbird and Burning Boots (with their dog Hershey) will be 1/2 day behind us. And as much as I miss Heather, Tally, and the rest of my ‘normal’ life, I am going to keep hiking. My decision still favors the awe and beauty of the trail for now and, in a tiny way, I am now hiking for two.