Ultralight Jerk used to sell a bumper sticker that said “Life’s too short to hike the Appalachian Trail”. It was a good sticker. Unfortunately the AT fit into my plans very conveniently one year and I figured it couldn’t possibly be that bad. Since I still haven’t finished the PCT, it ended up being my first completed Triple Crown trail.
In retrospect, it would help if you didn’t go southbound, because then you’d have something to look forward to. I wouldn’t mind hiking in Maine or New Hampshire again, but by the time I hit Connecticut, I was deep into a 24/7 pity party. I’ve never been so sad to be on a trail and so desperate to quit and go home.
I would like to thank the Stuff You Should Know podcast for keeping me from doing that, even during the hottest and most humid weeks of summer. It also helped to come off trail for two weeks in the latter half of August. By the time I got back on trail, my motivation had recovered slightly and the worst of the heat had ended. Hiking through the fall colors was genuinely stunning. But in the end, this is not a thru-hike l I have the slightest desire to repeat.
Most of the AT has blurred into an endless green tunnel in my memory, punctuated by the occasional murder site or hurricane (Fred, Henri, Ida). My most vivid memory is probably the night I got an entire Smokies double-decker shelter to myself, woke up the next morning with my wet shoes frozen into blocks of ice, and had to incubate them for almost an hour until I could coax them onto my feet.
(Note: I am whiny, not ungrateful. As always, I am deeply appreciative of everyone who helped me along my journey and made the journey possible. I should just probably stick to hiking out west.)