I write this from Cohutta, Georgia.
Yep, we bailed out. Temporarily. In three weeks, we hiked 317.4 miles, a satisfying three inches on the map of the entire trail. We enjoyed it thoroughly, even though it was not all easy. We are more than ready to continue, but after much deliberation during Winter Storm Virgil, we decided to wait for spring–or at least, for some semblance of a season that is no longer winter–before returning to the trail. We’d have been getting off the trail in a week anyway so I can attend a family wedding, so paying for a room and town food for three or four days while we waited for the drifts to settle wouldn’t have made much sense either, since we’d only get several days of (extra slow) hiking after, before having to decamp again.
Yet it’s maddening how there can be huge drifts of snow up on the mountains, drifts that slow you down, make you ravenous, freeze you out, exacerbate your little aches and pains, make you weep… but within thirty minutes of heading for home, it’s sunny and warm in the valley, and you wonder why the hell you aren’t up there hiking, even as you can still see the snow-covered peaks in your rear-view mirror. It’s bittersweet. Zippy and I remind each other of an AT slogan: Hike your own hike. Forget notions of failure and success, of good and bad ways to make this journey. We are doing this, not the way we expected, but we are doing this. We trust in our higher power to guide us. And meanwhile, there’s time to enjoy beautiful weather, loving family, Easter week, J.’s birthday (today!), and my cousin’s wedding, Oh yeah… and if we’re lucky, several fascinating skin irritations might heal in the coming days. I’ll spare you the details.
Instead, I’m going to take the dog for a walk amid the blossoming trees. Fill Flo’s birdfeeders with sunflower seeds. Wash some dishes. J.’s going to patch gear, play the guitar, and dream of more hiking. We’ll be in touch…