I’ll never forget the moment of seeing “The Sign’s” silhouette in the distance after summiting the very last climb of my journey. It’s a moment you personally will remember every second of for the rest of your life, but you can’t quite put the words together for someone else to try and imagine themselves. I remember it, and will always remember it, like it was yesterday. I remember having one last shelter sleepover and not being able to fall asleep because of all the excitement, almost like Christmas Eve as a child. I remember smiling ear to ear as we hiked one of the steepest and strenuous climbs on the entire trail. And I remember thinking how proud I was of each and every one of us as we stood on top of Mt Katahdin, 2189.1 miles further than where we stood five months prior.
But I also remember thinking, now what? Instant gratification kicked in and I immediately dreamed about hot showers every day, wholesome meals and my cat waiting for me back home in Georgia. After an amazing and (somewhat) relaxing weekend with the family in Bar Harbor, ME I boarded the plane that would take me home in less than five hours after it had just taken me five months to walk there. It was there on the plane I really wondered what was next in Sweet’s autobiography.
The trail was the best experience and the most rewarding accomplishment I have ever done in my life. Of course I knew it would be an adjustment leaving the trail but I don’t think I realized how much it had become home until I returned “home”. My journey on the Appalachian Trail was a time I truly felt like it was exactly what I was supposed to be doing and exactly where I was supposed to be.
I now find myself in Jackson, Wyoming wrapped in a warm blanket while it dumps snow outside and think this is never where I imagined I would be after returning from my hike. I saw myself in a corporate job, maybe in Atlanta or maybe in North Carolina, surrounded by family and friends. But once again, here I am on another solo adventure chasing what I feel is best for me at this time. I think the trail showed me that a dream can become a reality with a little hard work and a lot of passion. Yes, the AT is going to be a hard act to follow and yes, I will continue to day dream of the days on the trail but there’s a bunch more items on that bucket list of mine that need looking into.