Well, here we are. I feel somewhat obligated in this- my final post to the blog that has chronicled my 2185 mile walk along the Appalachian Trail- to sum up my experience with pithy, poignant commentary. Unfortunately, I don’t do pithy and I suspect the insights I’ve gained apply rather narrowly to me. Nevertheless, I’m happy to share them with anyone interested.
In my case, this hike was less about the AT and the act of long distance walking than it was about taking time away to connect with something meaningful that could carry me smiling into my latter years. During the 10 months that have passed since I started (six months hiking, four months off-trail injured), I learned- in no particular order-
…that I am a more social being than I previously understood.
…to be (much!) less skeptical of human nature.
…that I value simplicity over wealth.
…the difference between southerners and mountain folk (thank you Hydro!)
…that it is liberating to look like a hippie.
…that I feel at home in small town public libraries.
…that God is great, and that freedom from religion is glorious.
…that it is grand to be unimportant, and unimportant to be grand.
…that self-created variety can be an antidote to boredom.
…that Northbound AT thru hikers never believe they are in ‘the bubble.’
…that when a path forks, the toughest looking option is almost always correct.
…that running downhill with a backpack is exhilarating enough to justify risk of injury.
…that taking a ‘gap year’ later in life should be a thing.
…that I am surrounded by magnificent people.
…that music lays bare my soul.
…that watching the news is unhealthy.
…that the profession most suited to me is Wandering.
Before I leave you with a final set of pictures and videos, I mentioned some months back when I was off the trail injured that I am compiling an audio/video scrapbook of my hike with sights and sounds of the trip. I will post an announcement soon when it is uploaded to YouTube, in case anyone is interested. It has been a tremendous pleasure to share these life-changing months with so many. I’m still undecided as to what steps I’ll take next, but hopefully I’ll spot a white blaze now and again that confirms I’m on the right path. My love and best wishes to you all and thanks again for your indulgence.
Michael- and now, forever, Max.