Location: Gorham, New Hampshire
I have met the most amazing people on this journey. The more people I meet the more experiences I have out here, the more I am humbled and the more my perspectives on life are challenged and changed.
When I started this I had thought I decided to do this about 10 years too late. Though I had met one or two older hikers it seemed most hikers I met were in their early to mid twenties or early thirties. Most were 10 if not 15 some even almost 20 years younger than me.
I have since met many thru-hikers in their 50’s & 60’s. I even met a 72 year old grandfather hiking with his grandson.
I met a man yesterday who was trying to complete a thru-hike. He was in his late 60’s or early 70’s. He had started in 2003. He had to stop because of (separate incidences) cancer, temporary blindness, a back injury, a ham string injury and several others. He was back out there pushing on to Maine. As he listed his various ailments and reasons for having to stop I thought about my complaints (mostly to myself) over the last few weeks and I felt pitiful.
I met a couple in their 60’s who had also been trying to complete the hike for years in the face of injuries and even Lyme Disease.
I have been hiking with Walker who is 52, Mother Goose is 61 and Lone Star in his 60’s.
A common question you get is “why are you doing this?” It’s easy to ramble off about the beauty of nature etc. I decided to do this hike for many reasons. Mostly though I decided to do this hike to change myself. To change who I am as a person. To challenge myself. To grow as a person. Change is never easy, especially so even later in life.
I knew when I started this it would be difficult. I live in a city of 12 million people. I have human interaction at all times, even when I am “alone”. I have a plethora of amazing friends and family easily accessible by mass transit, phone or email. I work on the internet. I have news, politics, sports and digital social interaction at my finger tips at all times. I have constant sources of new input. I have an art studio which is an incredible place always seemingly full of wonders and discovery.
I have done plenty of camping and hiking. I had spent plenty of time alone in the woods. I can enjoy those moments with no one around. Those moments when there is no constant stream of new input. Moments where the wind whispers, the clouds dance and the leaves chatter. Moments when the birds sing and the streams tell stories.
The hardest part of doing this hike so far has been mental. Sure my knees hurt, even bad at times. My stomach problems never seem far away. There’s bug bites, your always hungry, always tired, sweaty, dirty, no shower for 4-5 days at a time. That stuff though is easy enough to handle. The hard part is the sometimes miles and miles between incredible views. The hours of walking with very little new input. The time away from friends and family. The relative isolation.
As I head out tomorrow morning to begin my hike of those infamous “Whites”, as I begin what will likely be the toughest 1.5 weeks of hiking I have faced yet and will face on this journey, my pack will be a little heavier. I will be carrying with me the perspectives and experiences of the people I have met and the obstacles they have overcome in their lives and on the trail. I will carry these perspectives I have found and I will use them to overcome those Whites, to overcome myself and to change my perspectives.