We are thru-hikers. In the beginning we were shy to claim the title but now we have earned it. For 5 months we lead a simple life, though physically and mentally challenging we had one focus only, and that was to walk. I know we can walk. We can walk when it is hot and when it is cold and when it is pouring with rain. We can walk when we are tired and when we are hungry and when we are injured. We can walk up mountains and down mountains. We can do rock scrambles that will make rock climbers proud.
Now we are going back to normal life. I need to figure out how to again be a loving wife (iso a hiking partner), caring daughter, dependable sister, fun aunt, considerate friend, sharp statistician, responsible manager, effective housewife, healthy cook, disciplined runner. Quite daunting!
It has been the adventure of a life time. We have seen America in a way few travellers do and we have experienced the kindness and generosity of Americans in a way normal tourist wouldn’t. I have cried as often as I have laughed. Mostly emotional tears but at times tears of frustration or tiredness or from being hurt fall after fall after fall.
Some hikers count their falls, we havnt done that but at a guess I must have had close on 15 and Trevor probably around 10 – both of us had 80% of our falls in Maine.
We have met wonderful people on the trail and are amazed how normal everybody is. Deciding to walk 2192 miles sounds like a crazy idea, yet around 5000 ordinary people set out to do just that every year. The success rate is somewhere between 1 out of 5 and 1 out of 4 making it all the way to the end – and how proud and thankful we are that we are part of the 20-25% who made it.
Was it a life changing experience? No, it was just a wonderful time leading a wonderful life. Did I learn anything about myself? No, I didn’t “find” myself (maybe because I havnt “lost” myself before). Did I learn anything about Trevor? No, he was exactly the man I knew before, who pushes me beyond what I think I’m capable of, who makes me laugh, who knows how to keep me going even when I am in agonising pain or too tired to put one foot in front of the other. Is our marriage stronger? No, it is just incomprehensible that we would have done this without each other. Did I think a lot about a lot of things? Absolutely! It is amazing how you suddenly realise you have been walking for 5 hours and you havnt noticed the time because you were so busy with your own thoughts. My thoughts often centered around how absolutely privileged we are and how many in the world are so much in need of so many things we take for granted. Often though my thoughts were fantasising about the next snack!
It was a selfish and indulgent exercise, focusing on ourselves while we parked life. We have so many people to thank for so many things:
– my mom for encouraging us even though she would rather have us at home
– my sister for taking care of my mom and protecting me from bad news untill after she has solved the problems
– my 2 wonderful PA’s, my sister in law Cecelia (professional PA to high profiled individuals) and my friend Mathilda (PhD in Mathematical Statistics…..but very efficient PA) who sorted out several crises for us from shorthand WhatsApps requests
– Iceman and Barb, whose biggest contribution was that we knew if ever a serious problem arrived (like a critical injury in the middle of nowhere) we would be able to call on them for help, aside from encouragement and endless cold drinks made available to power us on. Somebody said Iceman is not a trail angel but a trail saint
– all my friends and family who kept communicating with me for 5 months, either by frequent comments on my blog posts or messages
– colleagues on my side and on Trevor’s side who stood in for us for such a long period, we owe you big time
– numerous trail angels who treated us with affection and made days more special by being there with something to drink or eat, or leaving water caches in dry areas