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…

9 Replies to “Bailout”

  1. Good call, Ann!!! This needn’t be the Bataan Death March, and this is an oddly cold and extended winter season in the East. Enjoy the break. Happy Birthday to J! Happy Easter to both of you! Love and hugs all ’round. We will miss you at the SOP Easter service & brunch.

  2. Way to go! Enjoy springtime in the valleys and wait for the snowmelt. Have a great break and heal up in the sunshine.

  3. So enjoying.your posts. Happy birthday J. It seems to me that you are still on your journey. Enriched with the warmth of friends and family while the trail shakes off its winter coat. It is pretty cool in Missoula and I’m looking forward to some more sun as well. Thank you for sharing the trials and jubilations of your adventure.

  4. I am relieved that you and J stopped hiking in the snow. I was praying you would be safe and make good decisions. I enjoy your writing Ann, I knew you were a talented artist but did not know of your writing. Grandma Reilly and I enjoyed your descriptions of the trail. I could see then without being there. Please continue writing when you resume your summer hike. Love to J from Grandma and Aunt Mickey.

  5. I am enjoying reading your trail journal and wish you weren’t experiencing such a long winter. Spring will be here soon and you can hit the trail again on the way to BigK. Enjoy the walk.
    1-80 GAME ’90, 2000 and 2016

  6. Hi Ann,
    We were so excited to get your postcard yesterday, and I just devoured all your posts to date. Your accounts are wonderful! You guys are wise to be flexible and open to changing your plans as need be. The trail will be there waiting to welcome you back soon enough.

  7. You are having quite the journey and are quite the troupers! You are not making me jealous and I find your posts extremely upbeat even with the challenges. Enjoy your break! We are having an easier spring than you here in Missoula! Love and miss you! I look forward to more posts!

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