We fell victim, last fall, to our own self-inflected doubt when we talked ourselves out of thru hiking the Appalachian Trail. Fears of not being able to financially support another long hike were prevalent in our thoughts, with fears of commitment and fears of our timing tagging along for the ride. We manifested our own worst fear and let it talk us into postponing our hike. This right here is an easy mistake to make. One that I am sure you can relate to in your own life. It takes being able to pick apart extrinsic worries from our intrinsic dreams, and if that is not difficult enough, it takes trusting yourself and your decision. So fast forward to February and our trip to the mountains, we hopped onto a section of the AT south of the Nantahala. Seeing Milo take to trail so quickly melted away our fears. If we really wanted to thru hike this summer, we could make it happen, and so it began.
We had four months to make money, organize gear, figure out logistics of hiking with a dog and prepare our lives to leave. Ethan began to travel for work outside of Nashville, and I picked up odd jobs around town while diving head first into planning. It was not until May that our lives seemed to fall into a comfortable yet non-stop routine. I started seeing a chiropractor after being rear ended on the interstate. My mornings every Monday, Wednesday and Friday suddenly became accounted for, and the rest of the days were packed till dark with work. Time with friends and family did not go unappreciated, but being away from Ethan was tough. Milo seemed to pick up on something looming on the horizon, but unable to understand me when I insisted on him joining us this time, he still moped around, afraid to leave my side.
Our final week in Nashville arrived, and with hefty to-do lists in hand, we headed into the week at full speed. I wish I could tell you that preparing for a thru hike is easy, but honestly it feels as if you go from jogging to sprinting and as soon as you take your first step on trail your sprint slows to a walk.
Our timing worked out perfectly making it so that our roommates were able to drive us up to Cincinnati. From there we rented a car to Buffalo, where we were picked up by my dad and driven back down to Fredonia, NY. Two days felt like one by the time we could settle into one spot, if only for a day or two. Trail-related work fell intermittently with fishing and visiting family. We tight-lined streamers below the falls behind the church. When the occasional fish made it up the cut in the rock and through the hydraulics of the falls, we cheered ecstatically until the fins disappeared upstream. A kingfisher flew by, while the grackle on the other side of the creek kept intruders away. Midges landed on our legs and in our hair.
On Monday, we drove up to Forestville to send our first month’s resupply after carefully packing six priority mail boxes. Then we did a final gear check and sprayed our gear with permethrin.
Today, we began our drive East from Fredonia. Driving through upstate New York, we crossed through marsh lands before the rolling hills grew taller and taller. The towns became smaller and the highway began to travel right through them. We passed through the most quaint little places in Vermont, stopping for lunch at the Garden Market Deli. We traced a line on our window following the path of the Appalachian Trail along the ridge line in the distance. Once in Gorham, we booked a Milo-friendly room at the Royalty Inn. Milo took a quick liking to the bed and went right to sleep. He must know that tomorrow is a big day.