We've had a good run of it, but Dad and I are off the trail for the season. We hit just under the 800 mile mark right outside Roanoke, VA. There wasn't any dramatic event, injury, or rationale for getting off the trail, we'd just both gotten fed up with the bugs and the heat, and the never-ending Virginia green tunnel. I was also quickly running out of money.
After a few conversations we came to the conclusion that we had been having a lot more fun before the trees leafed out, when we could see the views from the tops of the mountains, and when it was a lot cooler. For us, well, me anyway, that is what the trail is really about, having fun.
From the beginning I'd been saying that I was going to hike till I ran out of time, money, or 'want-to' and in the end I ran out of 2 of those at the same time. I know a lot of people are out there because it is a challenge, or because they want to see if they can do it, but I'm not, nor was I ever one of that mentality. I think that is a fine reason to hike the Appalachian Trail, but I was there just see new things and have a good time.
We are already making plans to go back next year. We're hoping to start from Maine and work our way down next season, which means not starting till much later in the year. We've also started looking into a North Carolina 700 mile trail called the Mountains to the Sea Trail, which looks exciting because we discovered it goes right through my father's friend Eddie's back yard. So, this whole adventure is far from over; in one sense it has barely begun.
As for Virginia, parts of it were undoubtedly, in my opinion, the best parts of the AT that I had experienced so far. Dragon's Tooth, McCaffe Knob, and Tinker's Cliffs is a wonderful stretch of trail that I would love to hike again in a three or four day short hike. Grayson ighland's State Park in North Carolina was also one of my favorites, with beautiful hiking and feral ponies. Who could ask for anything more?
I'm down in North Carolina for at least another week or two, trying to scare up a little work in the meantime and ramping up the various business ventures that I intend to run with as I land back in NYC. It's pretty exciting, this feeling that I am starting a third career, but this time I'm going into it deliberately prepared, not just scrambling for another job. But that is another post.