This brings a close to the 2020 season. And what a long, strange trip it has been! If you had told me back in March or April that I would eventually put more miles of the AT under my feet this year than I had in any year since I started this journey back in 2014, I would have told you you’re crazy.
Early on in the year, I resigned myself to the notion that pretty much every trip we had planned would be scrubbed. The April or May trip with Deep Woods was indeed cancelled. Same for the May trip with Loonie. As I’m so prone to do, I became resentful and depressed. So selfish. Especially considering the times. But then, PA opened up, the ATC backed off a bit on their call to stay off the trail and all of a sudden, Loonie and I squeezed in a trip in early June.
Summer came and we were occupied with other things. Not exactly a great time to go anyway. As September drew near, Deep Woods and I saw an opportunity to go and that fell into place. As I wrote about, it was not a particularly good performance on my part (to put it plainly, I sucked) but I’m grateful to have been able to do it and there were many memorable moments.
And then there was this last trip, covered in the last three posts. Absolutely amazing! How and why this all came to pass is beyond my comprehension. I simply know that I’m so grateful it did. I have to be the least deserving, that’s for sure. With everything that’s happened in the country and around the globe this year, it really drives home the fact that life is precious and everything, including life itself, can slip away in an instant. In the grand scheme of things, it would seem that getting to hike the Appalachian Trail is not that big a deal. But in reality it is a big deal. Its huge and I don’t know what more to say than I have been so fortunate and blessed to do it.
As for next season, it’s anyone’s guess but the “plan” is for Deep Woods and I to pick up where we left off in Pearisburg and head North for Daleville. That’s a little over 93 miles and would likely take place in April or May. I’ve been looking forward to this section for a long time. It includes the “Virginia Triple Crown”: The Dragon’s Tooth, McAfee Knob and Tinker Cliffs. McAfee Knob is one of the most iconic spots on the entire Appalachian Trail, second only to Katahdin itself. If we complete that, I’ll be down to approximately 140 miles to be officially half way to Katahdin. Cool!
As for Loonie and I, we’re probably going to take a hiatus from the AT and head West for Rocky Mountain National Park for a couple of weeks in early September. Beyond that, it will most likely be no more than some weekend trips close to home. Maybe we’ll finally start ticking off more sections of Missouri’s Ozark Trail or start Illinois’ River to River Trail. I really want to do each of those.
In the meantime, I will attempt to put some effort into being physically prepared for next season. While out on the trail alone a couple of weeks ago, I had a lot of time to think about how things went on the last trip with Deep Woods. I started feeling really guilty about how my experience (not just on last month’s hike but on several we’ve done together now) is almost certainly having a negative impact on what he’s experiencing. He deserves better. I know he would never say anything (he’s too good a guy) but if I had to hike with me I would probably say “Never again”! And the same goes for Loonie. She deserves better as well. I’ve come a long way but there’s still a lot of room for improvement. Now if I can just deliver!
More to come…