So What the Heck Happened?

August 17, 2010 4:17 pm

After some time thinking things over, letting things sink in and some debate over what if anything to share about why I left the AT, here it is. As I have been told by friends I did this for myself and I don’t have to explain anything if I don’t want to. I know this. I made this a public experience by putting up this journal as well as through Facebook and in doing so I wanted to explain not because I felt I ‘had to’ but because I ‘wanted to’. In doing so perhaps I can learn a thing or two and of course there’s the therapeutic power of writing.

The final stats…
500 miles. 7 weeks. 10 zero days. Katadihn, Baxter State Park, ME to (just past) Killington, VT.

So here’s the full explanation why I left the trail.

Simply put…
I got sick of it. In between all of the breathtaking views you see in the photo’s is a lot of walking. Sometimes days and days of boring walking. I got sick of walking. I got sick of walking with no new input and very little new to think about.

Ok Not quite so simple…

Not too long before I left I had gone through a break up. To be completely honest I have had some trouble handling it. I can honestly say I almost didn’t make it to the trail and came close to canceling the hike all together because of it. With all the miles of walking and little new input, I thought of almost nothing else and of this person often 12-14 hours a day. With nothing new to think about the sound of my own wheels drove me crazy. I got sick of it and wanted new things to think about.

My Art…
I had made it a good amount of the way without thinking too much about my art. I figured a break would do me good and I’d just get back to it when the 6 months was up. Sometimes for days all you see is tree’s and mountains and while there’s beauty and inspiration in those, it doesn’t exactly inspire a figurative artist to work:) As I turned to new things to think of, I looked to my art. I thought of how it feels for me to make art. I thought of how it feels to explode onto a piece of paper with a pencil, pastel or a brush. I thought of the fire that burns in me at times when I draw. The fire of 1000 suns. Great, now I started a fire in the woods, uh… how am I going to put that out?;)

I thought of the incredible amount of positive feedback I have received over the last year or two on my art, mostly through my Facebook Page. Feedback mostly all from women who shared their feelings of how my art had helped them to find beauty in themselves by challenging traditional images and ideals of female beauty. I thought of how my art could further be used for healing by exploring projects such as breast cancer survivors and others.

I really, really wanted to make art. I thought whether I would rather spend the next 4 months making art or continuing walking and thinking about things I’d rather not be.

Obvious decision…
I left.

I considered going back…
After being back in NYC for a couple of days I did consider heading back. “Finish what you started dammit” a voice told me. I went to sleep planning to get back to it the next day. It was a rash not thought-out decision. When I awoke and walked to the rest room, the pain in my knee’s and cramping in the arches of my feet told me perhaps I’d better give it a little more thought. I imagine the cramping of my arches will go away eventually, but after almost 2 weeks of very little walking and I wince near to tears every time I have to go up or down a flight of stairs (somewhat essential for getting around in New York City). My knees where in bad shape when I started and I realize now though I may have some long term knee problems to deal with as a result of this hike.

I guess I didn’t have what it takes…
Dealing with your own thoughts and being able to handle the miles of boring walking is as much a part of completing the trail as physically overcoming the big rough mountains. In the end I did not have what it takes to be a thru-hiker. My hat goes off in respect of those who do. It really is an incredible accomplishment. I am coming to peace with this though. I have other things I can do and other accomplishments I can make. I did at least have what it took to make it as far as I did.

Any regrets?
No. Not for a second. I have always lived life by the saying “no regrets, only lessons learned”. Some disappointment in not completing yes. Was this really about finishing? Maybe, maybe not. Really though it was about learning through experiences. I love to learn, and one of my foremost goals in life is to learn through experiences. This was most definitely an experience and I most definitely learned many valuable things. The journey is the destination and while this particular journey may have come to an end others are waiting to begin.

What I have learned?
Lots! Too much to cover here, but a few highlights:
1. The people I have in my life are amazing. Your support, encouragement was incredible. Thank you!!!
2. Confidence! This is a big one. I Left NYC with 0 days experience backpacking. Yup, absolutely no experience. Sure I had camped before, but with a car, at camp grounds. Backpacking, living out of a bag for 2 months is a very different experience. I had also never hiked a serious mountain, never anything over 3000 feet and never any serious bouldering. For someone who rarely gets nervous I was a bit terrified before I left. I did my home work, I did lots of it, I was well prepared. I did it, I did it with no problems and encountered nothing I couldn’t handle. I am now much more confident in the things I can tackle in my life, the mountains I can overcome both metaphorical and topographical.
3. I have some other skills I may be able to use. This journal was never intended to be much. Just a chronicle of events. I have received incredible feedback about, the writing and the photography. Perhaps I can combine those skills with my art in use for greater things.

Will I hike again?
Definitely! I still love hiking. While I have some issues with my knee’s to deal with I will continue to hike, I will continue to backpack. I love the outdoors and will continue to love it and learn through it by hiking and backpacking. I think though I will do so in shorter section hikes 1-2 weeks or so.

What now?
Time to make art!!! Time to apply the things I have learned and confidence I have gained to other area’s of my life. I will continue to grow, I will continue to explore, I will continue to learn, I will continue to seek out new experiences.

Thank You!!!

July 29, 2010 12:45 am

Thank you  everyone. I have received emails, phone calls, texts and word through the grape vine of your support, following of this journal and encouragement. Your feedback has been incredible!

You are all so great. I am truly lucky to have you in my life. You are all with me every step of the way!!!

Thank you!!!

These Boots

July 17, 2010 8:59 pm


[youtube yRkovnss7sg  These Boots]

One pair of boots down. Thanks Maine! At least the Shoe Goo (Thanks Connor and Clara!!) held them together until I got to town and got a new pair.

I wasn’t too happy about getting just over 300 miles out of this pair. I talked to some other hikers about it and they said to call Merrill the manufacturer and tell them I am an Appalachian Trail thru-Hiker and they would send a free replacement pair. I did and they are!!! Pretty cool! 8-10 days though so I’ll get them in the middle of the whites and mail them down the line for use after this pair.

Maine is Pain

July 14, 2010 3:41 am

Maine is pain baby, Maine is pain.

Goodbye and good riddance Maine, you were so very beautiful but my knees and my boots do not forgive you and hope I never see you again;)

Mahoosuc Notch

July 13, 2010 10:42 am

I had heard lots about the Mahoosuc Notch for a while. I heard a lot from other hikers. I heard how fun it was. I camped a little out of the Notch the night before trying to catch up with the gang.

I set out very early and made my way down the very dangerous Mahoosuc Arm and took a break at the bottom. Just as I sat down Brookie and Walker  came walking out of a nearby site! Talk about trail magic:)

They said the girls were just ahead and guessed the Notch started soon. Looks like we all caught up just in time to do it all together.

The Mahoosuc Notch is basically a huge pile of boulders were 2 mountains meet. You get to crawl through the boulders. It’s a lot of fun without too much vertical gain. The temperature in there is very cool and despite being in the upper 80’s above there is snow & ice in the crevices of the notch.

We had heard some rumors about a moose skeleton in the notch. Some had it hanging from the sides above, some had it in the rocks but we never saw it.

It was a blast in there!!! Brookie crawled into one of the crevices, grabbed some snow, threw snow balls at me and made a snow man in July. We all posed for a picture with the snow man:-) it was definitely one of the most fun times I had yet hiking this trail.

Pine Ellis Hiker Hostel

July 12, 2010 2:40 pm

Date: 7.12.2010

Location: Andover,  Maine

While in Andover I stayed at the Pine Ellis Hiker Hostel. It was a pretty cool place. David and his mother-in law Eline ran the place. They were both great and very accomodating of my World Cup needs:)

We met Rob and his son Johnathan there. They are NOBOS who have been hiking the trail 1 month a year since 2005 and are about to wrap up their last section to finish the trail. They were lots if fun and Rob bought us all breakfast in the morning they left! Very cool people.

I was able to get a haircut and beard buzz from David which I the cleaned up with a razor. I was very happy about that!

David also gave me some silver polish so I could give my moon goddess pendant a much needed cleaning.

I was able go watch both World Cup final games:-)

There were basically only 2 places to eat and only 1 place to buy a very limited selection of groceries. I heard from NOBO’s the food options get better further south. This is good because I am living on power bars and very pricey ones at that.

We met a few other NOBO’s there. Some were ok. I appreciate advice on which hostels to stay or not stay at, trail advice etc. but some North Bounders are a little cocky, and try to tell you everything you are going to feel, do and experience and everything you are experiencing right now because they have experienced it all. Not so wild about that. I’ll have my own experiences thanks. oh don’t even try to tell them Maine will be difficult!!!.

Overall it was a very, very fun stay. I really enjoyed some rec time with the gang!!!

I am a day behind the group now and have to play catch up again.

The Ups and Downs

July 11, 2010 10:41 pm

Date: 6.11.2010
Location: Andover, Maine

Last week was pretty ruff. The heat and humidity made hiking almost unbearable at times. I grossly underestimated my food needs and hiked 2 long hard days of hiking on about 400 calories. I was tired, beat down and depressed most of the week. It was rough but I pushed through.

There were some positives. I caught up with Brookie, Flora and Fauna. We all hike at our own paces during the day but have been camping together. It was great to have good company at nights and in the morning.

We all made it into Andover together and I have some writing to do about a very fun weekend.

Feeling sick now. Back to the trail in the morning.

Freddy the Frog Gomez

July 10, 2010 10:49 am


My buddy Freddy the frog:) This little guy was not camera shy at all!


July 6, 2010 11:37 pm

Date: 6.6.2010
Location: Piazza Rock Appalachian Trail

Have been trying to take a little more time to enjoy this hike. I have been trying to do more side trail stuff such as Sugar Loaf and I found some cool talus caves a little of to the side of a shelter. They were a lot of fun to crawl around in and a very welcome cold spot of relief from this weeks heat.