I have decided not to continue with my thru hike. The decision was practically made for me with the realization that if I went back to the trail immediately after finishing physical therapy* in early July, and continued hiking an average of 12-15 miles per day (probably slower in the beginning as my tendinitis is STILL killing me, after almost a month of rest), I still wouldn't make it to Maine until mid-November (and that doesn't allow for any zero days).
* I ended up having a severely inflamed IT band, along with patellor tendinitis and a ruptured bakers cyst.. Oh, and Lyme Disease (which I'm taking medication for). So the good news is - no knee surgery. The bad news is - still in pain.
I did have several options available to me:
- I could flip flop (go to Maine and start hiking southbound), which is something I've been resistant to from the very beginning. I have in my mind that Katahdin is my end point, and it just doesn't seem as fulfilling to think about jumping ahead & ending my hike in Virginia. I think it would be really hard to complete a thru hike this way. (No offense to those who are flipflopping, though! Hike your own hike!).
- I could hike north, knowing I would not be able to finish before Katahdin closed.
Both of those options seemed less than stellar. It seemed obvious that my thru hike has turned into one really long section hike (751.7 miles for the first section), with many shorter sections to come. This was my one shot a thru hike, and it didn't work out. But the goal of wanting to hike the entire Appalachian Trail still remains.
Once I made the decision that I would complete this goal as a series of section hikes, I thought about whether I wanted to go back out on the trail and continue to hike north this summer. The answer was a pretty definitive NO - it is getting miserably hot out there, and it seems that one of the biggest advantages to a section hike is that you don't have to hike when it's blazing hot outside.
So we'll see how it goes. I'll keep posting updates here (hopefully blogging will still be a 'thing' by the time I make it to Maine).
Thanks to everyone for your support. I am incredibly grateful to have had this experience, and I'm proud of what I've accomplished so far. (I mean really, I don't even like to DRIVE 750 miles!). I wish nothing but the best to my trail family - the friends I've made while hiking, the trail angels, as well as everyone who read my blog and sent me notes of encouragement. If you want to follow my 'real' account on twitter, please do so @tinydream. Also, OWL is still out there (well, right now she's on vacation but she'll return soon enough) - so check out her blog as she continues on her journey.