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Blitz - Appalachian Trail Journal - 2014

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Blitz
Begins: Jul 27, 2014
Direction: Northbound

Daily Summary
Date: Fri, May 20th, 2011
Start: Saunders shelter
End: Damascus, VA
Daily Distance: 9.4
Trip Distance: 493.1

Journal Stats
Entry Visits: 447
Journal Visits: 8,237
Guestbook Views: 613
Guestbook Entrys: 6

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Eric hiking past the blooming laurel and rhodies

End of the first part of my thru

Well, it's over for now - today I get picked up off the trail, to go home for my son Peter's HS graduation and a bunch of work-related stuff. My original plan was to come back onto the trail after taking care of those events, but that now seems unlikely to happen. I have mixed feelings about it, but the AT will always be here for me to come back to, and some work things won't be. Right now I have an exceptional opportunity to form a new biotech company on a cool technology that's in my sweet spot - this doesn't happen all the time, and I'm extremely excited to have the opportunity. My passion to create new drugs to treat disease is even stronger than my passion for backpacking. I've had a great time over the last 5 weeks, and I know that I will eventually finish the AT, and I've even also decided that I really want to do the PCT (Pacific Crest Trail) but those challenges will have to wait a little while.
Anyway, today was a short day, but since we wanted to get out early to meet Uncle Ed, Eric and I set our alarms for 0430. After a hot breakfast, we started hiking out in the dark by our headlamps. Didn't get much of a sunrise, but once the sun was up it was a beautiful stretch of trail, with many blooming rhodies and laurels (see below). The trail was mostly downhill and well graded, just a few tricky sections, and we got into town about 0830, with time to reorganize our gear before following our separate paths home. Since April 26 I or we've covered 500 miles by foot over some spectacular and rugged terrain, with no injuries, and I never even had to take a motrin (this is NOT to say that I was never sore!!). I was able to continue hiking despite a cold,but I do wonder if my recovery from that would have been faster if I'd taken more time off from hiking. I loved the hiking - it was everything I'd hoped for. How much of it is the endorphins and how much is just being out in this beautiful wilderness area I don't know. I love the feeling of complete independence that you get backpacking (of course it's an illusion, since you do need to resupply!). Waking up every morning you have the freedom to hike as little or as much as you want, and the normal constraints on your decision making are gone, which is a wonderful feeling. Backpacking makes you a self-contained unit with everything you need right on your back, and you feel truly free. You aren't Master of the universe, but you always have choices you can make, even if these are just deciding whether you want to hike in the rain or stop in a town or shelter to wait it out.
The biggest difference for me of this trip from past backpacking trips was all the time I spent in towns, and all the people I met along the way. Both were huge highlights of the trip for me, enriching the experience immeasurably. Many of the people I met on the trail made indelible impressions on me, and I regret that I see no way to keep in touch with them, and find out how things are going with them. So many really cool people I'd enjoy hiking with. Giving that up is perhaps the hardest part of coming off the trail. If only I could have had a few more weeks...

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