Day 157

Somedays you are just backpacking or going about your day and then some realization hits you and you never saw it coming.

Woke up and got on the trail around 6 a.m. I had a 7.2 mile hike ahead of me today to get to town. There is also a heat advisory out and storms in the forecast. So I did what I could to follow the mountaineering principle of, high by noon and down by two.

I got to summit South and North Crocker Mountain first thing this morning. It was about a 2000 foot climb, darn near straight up. It was slow going up. The higher I went, the more it felt and looked like the Earth was falling away. The trees were shrinking rapidly before my eyes as I climbed higher. A fall here would not make for a nice holiday photo. It was nice and easy once I was up. The descent down was fairly controlled for the most part.

On my way down the mountains, I came across the 2000 mile marker.

I did not expect to happen, what happened next. I sat down on a rock next to it and put my hand on it, caressing it and I cried, full on. I also just put some on video without thinking about it. I will post it, so I have the memory. Its raw, unedited, unscripted and in the heat of the moment, so it is what it is. It is emotion and love that has always fueled this journey, some leaked out today.

When I took this journey on, I had no idea if I could do it. I was all in, but being all in and pulling it off are very different. It is a huge undertaking mentally and physically. It is believed that only 15% to 20% who try a thru hike on the AT complete it. Most say it is the toughest hiking long trail in the world, who knows. The experts this year have said it may be the lowest completion rate ever this year, due to weather conditions, but time will tell. I wanted to do this hike for me, for my parents while they are alive, my girlfriend and others. I wish my grandparents and others were here to share in this too. My dad almost dying at the VA before I left, sealed the deal that I was going to give it my all, no matter what. I want to decide what my life is and live it. I write my lifes chapters. My life is about building meaning, memories and connections, material possessions are not me nor what I myself strive for.

So I sat on this rock, this joyous wave of emotion grabbed me out of nowhere, reflecting on how far I have come, the hardships and great times, the sacrifices I and others have made for this pilgramage to happen, all the people who helped me in countless ways. The lessons I have learned and looking ahead to putting that exclamation point one what will be one of my greatest accomplishments ever. Remember, I am HAPPY in the video clip. A glimpse into the heart of a thru hiker. I really am going to do this!!!! The only easy day was yesterday, as the phrase goes.

As I was working on going down, I heard thunder fairly close, but could only see blue skies. The skies darkened later. As I got down, there was a small gravel parking lot, with a small RV camper there covered in AT decals and such. A guy leans his head out with grey hair and pony tail and asks “You are Thru Hiker?” I say yes…as I look to the sky…He says come on inside for cold drinks and ice cream. So I do. There were three other thru hikers there.

The Trail Angel gave me trail magic of pop and ice cream and we all chatted a while. The Trail Angel thru hiked 7 years ago and now lives in his RV going up and down the trail doing trail magic. Before AT life he was an Army Ranger and Ranger Instructor for 30 years until he retired. He saw more than his share. He came out and hiked the AT, otherwise he would have killed himself he said due to military experiences. We all know the AT heals, its magical. I was going to hitch a ride to town, but he gave me a ride too. I am so thankful for so much.

I am sitting on a covered porch, with a small river just feet away. Light rain and lightening and thunder around me. What an amazing day. I even grabbed a fresh salad to eat with real vegetables from a place in this very small town.

I looked forward to more great times ahead as I move up Maine. If weather conditions are good for my next mountain, I am told one can see Canada and Kathadin (a long ways away yet). Amazing.

22 thoughts on “Day 157

  1. Trail Angels…….Wow! Seem to show up right on time,Amazing…Terrific insigt on how you got this far, I said it back in Georgia, Your the toughest cat I know! …I was wondering how this years weather stacked up compared to other years, Seemed kinda like a horror movie alot of the time, Thanks Pace Car….

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    1. It blows my mind how things just seem to work out on the trail. It is really crazy, in a great way. The weather had it’s tough times, but nothing like the Tetons or Jasper that you were in with me!

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  2. I cried happy tears right along with you Jason on your heartfelt video! Thank you for all these fantastic memories that I feel you are sharing with us so well!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Congratulations Jason – I am so proud of what you have done. Watching your video reminded me of watching my son’s first home run in little league baseball. I was so overcome with pride, I had to pinch myself to remind me that it actually was not me that hit the home run. You are an amazing man!

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    1. Thank you Andy. You are amazing and talented too. Every person I meet is better than me at something and I can learn from them. You are one of those!

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  4. I was crying along with you. So proud and thankful it’sall Working out . Such a big deal!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. You brought tears to my eye too. What a wonderful journey you are on and all the things you have accomplished came out in your video. You also have a keen eye for photos they are beautiful and worthy of an exhibition!!! Keep on trekking.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. I was feeling your joy today, knowing you would be in the 2000 mile club. It is such an accomplishment that is hard for us couch potatoes to even begin to feel. When a dream is that big it is overwhelming. I have been thinking about Katahdin myself, and know for a fact I will lose it, just knowing you reached your dream. From all my reading I can’t imagine anyone not being overcome with emotion.

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  7. 2000 miles!! That is INCREDIBLE.
    Interesting stats about the number of hikers who start. You make it look easy! Thanks for giving a glimpse into the mental and physical highs and lows. Living vicariously!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. The 2000 mi. marker… Yes, “the only easy day was yesterday.” Ha, that made me laugh… so true! The mantra of Mark Owen, Glen Doherty, Brandon Webb, Marcus Luttrel and many other Navy Seals… many of whom have died in their pursuits. It’s your mantra too, Jason, in your epic pursuit to conquer, both mentally and physically the AT!
    You’ve been on the trail for six months now – SIX MONTHS! -in snow, sleet, rain and hail… in cold weather…freezing – and in hot, humid weather that totally zapped everything you had! But you’re still on the trail man -still hiking on good dayz and bad dayz… it don’t really matter… You’ve got your mission and you’ve damn near completed it.
    I enjoyed seeing your brief video today, J. Your honest depiction… a glimpse into what you’ve gone through, mentally and physically, on your journey, the good times and the bad… the satisfaction you’ve enjoyed on the trail, the folks you’ve met along the way, yet recognizing that it ain’t been easy! And your elation shows! Congrats man!
    In a couple of weeks (+/-), you’ll be standing on top of Katahdin, looking around 360 degrees over the countryside below -it will be beautiful, rain or shine, heavy clouds or blue skies -doesn’t matter… you’ll be on top! You did it! (well, I’m exaggerated a bit, but I have confidence in you!!!) 😉
    Enjoy the hike, man. Take it slow and easy… and enjoy it! It’s almost over… but there are some tough dayz ahead… and then there will be those dayz in the future… you’ll think back and miss it… and wonder… what’s next? And then you’ll remember, ‘the only easy day was yesterday!
    Let’s get together when you get home, man… I’ll buy you a drink! 😉

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thank you Mike. I am ready to be done, but at the same time I am not ready. A drink sounds amazing. I am actually 5 months in, I started March 4. I hope to be done before September.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. By the way, that first photo is stunning! Love it!!! could sit and stare at that view for a long time…

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    1. Even better in person…

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  10. Awesome Jason! I just want to give you a hug and celebrate with you the awesome accomplishment. I’m kind of glad you got to this point alone so you thought to not only record your experience, but then to share that with us. Very cool. I love how you’re stroking your new friend, like a baby with his blanket 😉 heheh, you’re keeping that thing aren’t you? It’s a bit like a good TV series that we’re all watching, waiting for the next day’s episode, and we know the main character and it makes it so real. I can’t wait to see you when you get back and hear ‘the rest’ of the story, so to speak. I’m super excited and happy for you and reminder to keep your head on straight, stay safe, and accomplish the ultimate goal!

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  11. I’m late to the Blog Jason, but this really is an amazing journey you are on.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. I am very lucky.

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  12. Great write up today J. You continue to inspire us.
    Dave Shannon

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Jason!!! Thank you for sharing your journey and the raw emotion of this moment with us! We are in awe of your accomplishments and tenacity and courage! You *should* be proud of all you’ve achieved! Katahdin is going to be INCREDIBLE! Please take a video when you get there, too. Big hugs and keep up the amazing progress.
    Rock, on buddy!

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    1. thanks buddy!!! I still need to pinch myself.

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  14. When you get to your next mountain, be sure to look far, far far west to see me waving at you from B.C. Canada!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I will do that! Love and support across the continent…pretty awesome! I will be waving back!

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