Homer's Travels: Appalachian Trail - One Final Post

Friday, April 03, 2020

Appalachian Trail - One Final Post

A year ago today I started my Appalachian Trail (AT) attempt at Springer Mountain, Georgia.  I'm not sure I was full of optimism on that day but I was determined to give it my best try.  That I did.  One hundred and seventy-seven days, and one thousand eight hundred and ninety-four miles, later I decided to end my attempt.

When I quit I told myself I was done.  A few days later I changed my mind and thought I would return to finish the last three hundred miles to get to the end at Mt Katahdin. Over the past seven months I have vacillated between completing it and calling it done.  But this week the last vestige of my AT was removed when, with the help of the Wife, I trimmed the long, bushy beard I grew on the trail back to where is was when I started my adventure. Now when I look in the mirror, Little Hill is no longer looking back.

So I have made a decision and I have settled on not finishing the AT.  I'm not getting any younger and those last miles are not easy.  My attempt is officially over.

Not that I don't have my moments when I look up at the night sky and regret and the desire to finish what I started wells up in me and I get a strange feeling in my gut.  But, in the end, I remember how I felt and the reasons I had for ending my attempt and the moment fades.

Despite knowing I did the right thing, these moments will haunt me for years to come and when I look up at the stars I feel Little Hill, somewhere on the AT, looking up at them too.


  1. There’s always. Feeling of “what if” when you make a decision, isn’t there? I was always the kind who cheated on Choose Your Own Adventure books, reading all the possibilities.

    Your adventure was Epic. I capitalized that on purpose. EPIC. Do you know how many miles it is from the Shire the Mordor? 1779 if you follow Frodo and Sam’s trail, and you surpassed that. You destroyed the Ring, saved the world and were already well on your way back home. EPIC

    I’m glad you’ve found some peace in the choice. The AT isn’t about finishing, it’s about self-discovery, and self-acceptance, and exploration. You saw amazing views, pushed against your limits and discovered you are capable of amazing things. You also learned the value of friendship, your relation with your wife, and the joy of hugs and hand holding. Sometimes we need to put ourselves in an extreme situation to really see what we find meaningful in life. I think you did a wonderful job accomplishing that.

    1. Thank you for the kind words Autumn. "What if" is the story of my life. You are right, I discovered and learned all those things and more. I wish I could give you a great big hug right now but ... social distancing :)