“If I’d had been alone,” he said later, “I would have sat on a rock and cried. My heart wasn’t in it.”
The ups and downs of the AT are as much mental as physical. Some days the footpath is just plain cruel. It sends you straight up or straight down a mountain and it is what it is – and there isn’t a damn thing you can do about it but just keep walking.
Other days you’re in a constant sense of wonder, surrounded by the beauty of nature, flowers blooming, birds chriping, and puffy clouds drifting across amazing vistas.
Weather plays a factor, as does the terrain, and companionship, or lack thereof. As two former solo hikers, we lean heavily on each other. We look for and provide those prods when the other is feeling down, when we get frustrated with what the trail leads us through each day. During our journey, we’ve only had one night where we both hit bottom – wet, hypothermic, miserable, sick – and we’re still, slowly, recuperating from it. The mental pain healed quickly as we walked through fresh-fallen snow the next morning; the physical effects are still messing with us. Fortunately, we have a place and time to heal.
The trail is a great analogy for life, as many have pointed out. On this simple but strenuous walk, we find ourselves growing closer every day.