(My journal from 06/27/09)
The die is cast.
Steve has registered me for SavageMan and I'm going home from Harper's Ferry, WV, the day aftre tomorrow. This is my next to last night on the Trail, for this trip.
I am not finished with the AT.
Next year. Next year, a start from Harper's Ferry in early June will put me with the northbound thru-hikers, with plenty of companions. I'll finish in time for Steve's mother's 80th birthday party in mid-September.
Now that I'm leaving, I finally have my backpack adjusted to compensate for the loss of my butt curve. I bent the internal stays and added some closed-cell foam for sacral padding.
Now that I'm leaving, I finally have my socks figured our: Cool-Max liner socks + knee-hi hose + Smartwool hikers.
Now that I'm leaving, I finally have hiking partners whose distance and pace match mine. It has been a pleasure and privilege the past 2-3 weeks to hike with Jim Dandy (my age) and Bee Man (daughter Val's age.) Jim Dandy and I have had spirited discussions on religion, theology, philosophy, and a little politics, that have made me think and want to read up more.
But I am sure this is the right decision for me at this time. I'll probably cry for a week after getting home, and I've told Steve to be prepared for that.
When I think of not reaching the summit of Katahdin this trip, I feel regret.
When I think of not doing SavageMan this year, in this physical shape, living and training on the actual course, I feel heartbroken.
Heartbroken wins. SavageMan, here I come.
Miles hiked today: 19.8, over the first half of the "Roller Coaster" section on which I blew out my Achilles tendons last year. I'm stepping carefully and my ears are pricked for any suggestion of alarm bells coming from my heels.
Stayed at: Rod Hollow Shelter, where I stayed on that practice hike last year. I feel, again, that I'm home.
Shelter/tentsite companions: Jim Dandy, Bee Man, Bird, Freebird, Amero, and a 3-generation family consisting of 2 adult grandsons, 2 middle-aged sons, and the 77-yr-old matriarch, Nancy (trail name "Gran"), who hiked over 12 miles today with her progeny. They're out for a 3-day weekend, total of about 60 miles planned. Yup, Gran does that mileage. She was great fun to talk to. She started running at age 57 and in 20 years has run 400 races of various lengths, including 3 marathons. Her favorite distance is the half-marathon; marathons are too long and 5K and 10K too intense. Yup, she still runs, too, besides backpacking long days. She weighs 95 pounds and carries a 30-40-pound pack.
There was space in the shelter, but I tented. Just felt like it. I was next to the rippling creek. On my Irish penny whistle I played the hymn "In the Cross" because of the line, "Rest beyond the river."