I’ve been back home for four weeks now after the adventure of a lifetime. I thought I wouldn’t have anything to write about once I was home. Turns out, there are so many things I want to write that I can’t seem to find a place to start. I suppose I’ll start before I even came home…
When I finished my hike at Grafton Notch, I didn’t go straight home. My hike was complete but the adventure continued. I lived inside Miss Janet’s van for a week. She picked me up in Bethel, ME and I rode with her and Baltimore Jack to ALDHA’s Gathering in Shippensburg, PA. It was a great way to decompress before I went home. I wasn’t on the trail but I wasn’t home either. It was good but also a little strange. I went to grab something out of my tent and I stood there in front of my rain fly zipper frantically searching my pockets for the keys. Keys! It took an embarrassingly long time to realize I didn’t need keys to get into my tent. I felt like I was in some sort of thru-hiker purgatory. I wasn’t on the trail anymore but I wasn’t home either. I was somewhere in between.
I saw familiar faces from last year’s Gathering, people I knew from hiking the trail this year, and met a lot of new people, too. There’s just too many to shout-out to but know that you are my extended trail family and I love you! I walked across the stage as a 2,000-miler and felt pretty damn good about it. I had an awesome fangirl moment with fellow blogger and 2014 thru-hiker, Katniss Neverclean, and introduced myself to ridgerunner extraordinaire, Jim “Sisu” Fetig. I laughed my ass off listening to Cam “Swami” Honan talk about his 12 Long Walks and watching Squatch’s final A.T. film, Flip Flop Flipped.
After the Gathering, Miss J, Neema, and I made two more road trips. We went to Pittsburgh to meet Jo Cool and B-man’s (sp?) baby and to say yet another goodbye. It was good to finally put faces to names I’d heard from stories told on the trail. I said a hilarious and gut wrenching goodbye to Low Branch for the umpteenth time. After Pittsburgh, we went to York, where I hung out with Flame and Picasso for the next couple days until my flight home. When I hugged them goodbye at the airport, I turned around, and I felt myself seconds away from unleashing a torrential downpour on my face. It wasn’t that I didn’t want to go home. I just didn’t want to leave. I decided to smile instead. I’d spent weeks complaining about saying goodbye to these guys multiple times. Every time we thought it was the last time, we’d see each other again. It hurt more and more every time. Each time, I didn’t think I could put myself through that again. I smiled in the airport because I finally felt a sense of relief when the realization came to me— There will never be a final goodbye to my summiting trail family. I don’t know when, but I know I’ll see them again. Later, gators! :)
(The only one I didn’t get to see again was Pathfinder and only because she was too far away and my hitching skills are nowhere near as superior as hers. Sorry, babe.)