Monday, November 14, 2011

Final Thoughts

"How many do you think would have nerve enough to just camp in all of those remote places you did, let alone, scramble over those many high places where your cleats were barely gripping the slick rocks? Even now I can vividly see those almost impossible climbs and descents you crawled over with little mention in your writings. Your blog made it sound like a leisurely walk in some hills. But we know better, don't we?"

A former thru-hiker sent those words to me in an email, and I can't think of a way to better describe what's been going on in my mind the last month. (Has it been a month already?)

I don't know how many times Seth and I discussed this on the trail. We expected the transition back to "real life" to be an interesting and strange one, but I never imagined that in those first couple of weeks I would feel so isolated in the midst of familiar surroundings.

The conversation I remember most vividly took place on our second to last day on the trail. We had done thirty miles the day before, and were hoping to get twenty-five in that day. We were anxious and sad and exhausted. We were within minutes of Abol Bridge and the Baxter State Park boundary, and we talked yet again about the end and what it would be like to be finished. "How can we make them understand?" I remember saying. "Unless you've walked through days of mud and rain...", your hands and feet white and spotted with open sores from being wet for so long; unless you've sat cooking dinner getting swarmed by gnats or mosquitoes that buzz into your eyes and ears, that bite you through your clothing, that bite between your toes and leave your feet bloody; unless you've felt that anxious jump in your stomach that fills your entire body when your foot slips out from under you on a wet rock slab, and your mind has screamed that you can't fall again because every fall puts you that much closer to the one that ends your trip, and this might be the one, and it can't be the one because you're not done yet, you're not ready to go home; unless you've muscled across a cold, raging river and felt the relief when your shaking legs feel the solid ground on the other side and you've stepped out into 45-degree air with soaking wet feet and clothes; "unless you've walked through days and days of pain...", every step sending an awful pain through your foot and you've woken up the next morning and it's still there, and the next day, and the next day, and you've felt that same pain for every step of every mile for days and days and days; and unless you've seen that mountain rising in front of you and known there was no avoiding it, and you've pulled your exhausted body and aching feet up the rocky climb to be rewarded with a view of nothing but more trees..."How can you understand?" And just seconds after I said this we exited the woods onto the road that led to Abol Bridge, and in the distance was Katahdin staring down at us. We both stopped in admiration and I was crying...crying for the days I'd conquered, crying for the inevitable end, and crying at the thought that, No, no one is going to understand. 

It's hard to explain to people what I've done--"Did you have a nice trip?" "Yes, it was great."--is about the extent of it, but in my mind that adjective means a lot more than the simple fact that I enjoyed myself. Still, there is a part of me that doesn't want people to understand; I have something that's mine, and everyone else should find a peace of their own.

I think this will be my last entry. To everyone who followed me and encouraged me, thank you.

To everyone who dreams of an adventure, go do it.

20 comments:

  1. Seth "Bearbag" JacksonNovember 14, 2011 at 8:31 PM

    "To everyone who dreams of an adventure, go do it."

    I could not have said it better myself. I loved every painful, grueling step. What an adventure it was! And what a great person I shared it with!

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  2. I can't imagine how much emotion you felt that last day. I'm so happy for your conquering the trail. Following you via your blogspot was the highlight of countless nights with my family. It was a joy to have "met" you (thanks for friending me).

    You will continue to inspire many people in so many different ways for the rest of your life. The challenging part will be finding those other ways.

    Go be amazing, girl! :)

    Kristal

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  3. Lindsey and Seth,
    I would love to be able to contact you via email throughout this winter while I am preparing for my hike. Please email me at HLClare714@gmail.com if you are available for the questions I'm sure I will have in the process of preparing for my adventure. Again, I've really enjoyed all of your posts, Lindsey. Thank you for sharing your adventure with me. And Congratulations to the two of you again. Why don't you think about doing at least your favorite part of the AT next summer?

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  4. Thank you for sharing your experience with us. You are an inspiration to those of us still in the planning stages, 2016 (when I get to follow in your footsteps) can't come soon enough. Until then, thank you again.

    Just a passing soul on the trail back on June 6th,
    Kenneth Wiseman

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  5. I can't begin to express how much I've enjoyed following along with you and Seth. I looked forward to every journal entry. If only I were a little younger..... My AT adventure was a piddly 2 days and 25 miles. I wish it had been more.

    I'm sure you will never forget this past summer and all the adventures that came with it. Even though I could not be out there with you, thank you for at least allowing me to share this experience with you.

    Please do us a favor and leave the blog up for us to read again this winter :-))

    I wish you the best in your future. Have a great time this winter and maybe we can have the pleasure of reading your adventures again next year.

    Jim...

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  6. Again, thank you for writing this blog, i will really miss reading your posts. I told everyone i know about your journey, but for someone living in such a "small" country, the 3500 km distance is unbelievable. Maybe i can share this experience some day, or at least a part of it.
    Live long and prosper. :)

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  7. Your posts were like reading a good book. But with all good books, there has to be an end. Seeing the words, "I think this will be my last entry." made me sad. I feel as if I have lost a friend.
    Thank you for all your posts and thank you for allowing all of us to be part of this great experience.

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  8. I couldn't have said it as good as Bear Bar's dad, he hit the nail on the head. I think I have said it before but again THANK YOU!!!!!!!!!!! It has been a journey for me also following you the past 6 or 7 months.

    my2rots

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  9. Lindsey,

    I also couldn't have said it as good as Bear Bag's Dad. I love your writing; it draws me in, and makes me feel every word. Please do leave this blog up so that it can be revisited, in order to continue to inspire; something you have done so well. I only hope to follow your example, and find a peace of my own.

    Live well, you deserve it.

    Russ Hemming

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  10. Thank you Lindsey.
    What a great adventure that you have shared with us. I will miss you and Seth. I feel like I know you both.

    Storm

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  11. Thank you for letting us join you in your journey, For many this blog has kept the dream alive for one more year, Congratulations and if you decide to let us know how you finally adjust in 6 month time,

    Peter

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  12. Linday, Seth, I have enjoyed your posts. I have enjoyed your vids. I know words can not Express your deapest fealings about your journey. The only way to know, Is to do it.
    You will look back on those days with wonder and amzement, " I can't believe I done that !"
    I wish you all the best. Your journal leaves me wanting more. Wishing it was not over. One more night on the trail.

    Compose a book, it will sell. I would buy it for sure.

    Thank you for the update. I am going to go back and reread and live the journey again.

    Lonewolf

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  13. I agree with Lonewolf... Please write a book. I, too, have started re-reading your blog to relive the journey.

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  14. Another Thank You for your blogging from GA to MA. I loved reading about your adventure and will miss your posts.

    If your are done sharing your story, I understand, but as others have posted, I too will miss your posts.

    Another thumbs up to Seth's dad... he definitely got it right!

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  15. A quote from an article written about Gene Espys 1951 hike: "... a feat of endurance by a man (woman) of fortitude...the young (woman) set her sights on a distant goal and reached it, and who can say there isn't something worthy in that?" This is YOU, Lindsey.

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  16. No, don't cut us off :-) write the book!! Put me down for 10 copies! I've been following you since your first Youtube post! To say I admire you would be an understatement. Since then I've section hiked part of the AT up to Springer Mt and now I'm planning my 2013 AT thru hike (your posts are great especially the gear reports!).

    Just an overwhelming feeling I had making that first crested step on that rock Springer Mt...actually feeling the silence all around me and just wondering of all the hikers before me and the ones that will keep on passing thru. Shook off a few tears up on that little hill that beat me the entire way up (don't know what you were talking about in your first posts saying the approach trail wasn't too bad ;-) ha! heck I "thought" I was in decent shape too) Thank you sooooo much for inspiring me and many others. BA

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  17. I'll second what BA said (except I'll take 11 copies of the book). I have followed you since the first YouTube post and read every blog posting. I would check the blog 3 times a day just wishing for an update.

    Congratulations! Thanks for keeping us all inspired!
    -Grasshopper

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  18. Hi Lindsey
    I'm so sad that your blog should finally be at it's end. I was also checking for an update nearly every day. It was as if I was on the AT a little bit. I made a 4 week bicycletrip in Aug 2010 and only in this four weeks I had the similar feelings like you of being free, alive and not wanting to face the end. Still thinking of it every day.
    You inspired me to keep the dream to one day be able to do such a great journey (by foot or bike).
    I'm really excited (as many others?), how things are going on. Will there be a blog from another trail?
    Best wishes for the future
    Michael from Switzerland

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  19. Funny we're saying some of the same things "checking for posts 2-3 times a day"!! Haa ah! And I thought I was the only one :-). Just like a good book you can't put down huh. I was just gear planning a 'moment' ago for my "hopeful" 2013 thru hike and thought I'd check to see if anything else was posted. Hope me mentioning "moment" didn't bring back leaking tent memories! :-) I just finalize my tent, shoes and pack decisions! Thank you again. Sooo...you an Bear Bag planning your Triple Crown tour yet?? Haa ah! :-) BA

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  20. Hello Lindsey,
    This is Peggy from Discover Card...you inspire me.

    Thanks, Pegs

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