Epilogue Day 1: And just like that, I’m back on the Appalachian Trail. It’s been two months since I summitted Katahdin and ended my thuhike, but I would never forgive myself if I didn’t go back to finish those 100 miles I skipped between Delaware Water Gap and Harriman State Park. So, here I am. Back again on the trail, in what I am calling the “Epilogue” of my thruhike adventure.
I had hoped to do this earlier, when thruhikers would still be out and about to provide company and camaraderie for my hike. But life has a way of getting in the way, as some personal things took longer to finalize with work and housing in our new Washington DC home. There was also that whole Hurricane Florence thing I wanted to avoid.
But now I’m back, and I will tell you … it feels much different. I could blame it on the 4 hour drive to get here, the onslaught of rain all day, the thunderstorm crashing around me at night as I type this, or the lack of conversation with others at the end of the day. But, I think the real problem is that my heart just isn’t in it this time around. Emotionally, I already feel fulfilled by what I accomplished, and now it seems more like an errand. It’s not much fun, it’s (still) awful trail conditions, and it’s lonely hiking alone. But I have to do this, and I will do this, even if it is only to check the box for the miles I missed. And even if it’s not a fun outing, it’s still hiking in the mountains, which I love to do.
To start off, today I managed to get in just over 8 miles before darkness and the storm hit. I left my car at Delaware Water Gap and crossed the river where the famous ground-sign marks the entrance to New Jersey (photo above). It was a pretty easy slope of trail from there, though it was lined with wet rocks big and small to trip up my progress. I managed to stay on my feet all day (poles!) as I passed the Kittatinny Point Visitor’s Center, Sunfish Pond, and finally a decent view atop Kittatinny Mountain. It’s here that I could see the storm clouds rolling in from all sides, so I quickly made my way down a bit further to a campsite and set up shop for the night. I just barely got my hammock up and dinner cooked before the rain started. And then it really hit. Hard.
Side note, it’s scary to camp alone in the mountains during a thunderstorm. I was in a shelter pretty much any night it rained or stormed last time around. And I only camped alone 1 night during my entire journey … but today I had no choice, and it is a symphony of wind, lights and sounds surrounding my hammock right now. This may be the angriest storm I’ve ever been out in, and I’m of course alone. I’ll be very happy if I get any sleep.
But that’s what it takes right now. I put it off as long as I could, but to say I thruhiked the Appalachian Trail is to say I walked all 2190.2 miles in a 12 month time. If I don’t do these miles before March 1 of next year, then I would never forgive myself. I’m not a purist in that sense, but I’m committed to my goal and now it’s time finish it. If I survive the night, that is.
Hello Neiman (Sharkbait)!
- Start Mile: 1294.7
- Start Time: 15:00
- End Mile: 1303.3
- End Time: 18:05
- Miles Hiked: 8.6
- Miles to Go: 89.4
- Lodging: Kittatinny Mountain Tentsite