While I still have 3 more weeks of rest and rehab, I think I’ve come to some decisions about what’s next. There’s more I’ll share here in the next few weeks on what went into these decisions / what I learned about myself / the trail from the start of my TH attempt (and some I’ll likely keep to myself ;-), but the basic plan looks like this:

  • I will head to Hot Springs the last weekend of April, park my jeep and get a shuttle back to where I left the trail at Newfound gap on Monday.
  • I’ll finish up the last 35 miles or so I have of the smokies and then hike on in to Hot Springs to meet up with my friend and we’ll do a section from Hot Springs to about 100 miles north of there
  • From there we’ll both get shuttled back to our cars. He’ll head home and then I’ll jump my jeep up to Damascus and get a shuttle back to where we ended.
  • I’ll get a shuttle back to where we jumped off and hike my way in to Damascus, hopefully in time for trail days, but if not, I’ll catch a ride in and back to take part and then back to where I left after to finish up getting into and just a bit past Damascus.
  • And then I’ll get a shuttle back to my jeep and head home.

If I am able to do all of that I will have checked off three states (Georgia Tennessee and North Carolina), completed 500 continuous miles on the AT (by going about 30 miles past Damascus) and cross the have completed slightly over a third of the AT overall if you include previous smaller section hikes.

I’ll head out to do all of this with a big adjustment to how I approach the trail. I realize I was far too focused on the big goal and the plan / timing to get it done in the timeframe I wanted and was letting the day to day slip by. When I go back, there will still be some loose goals in mind (make it to trail days, complete three states, complete 500 miles), but the way I achieve each of those (and other than trail days the “when” I expect to achieve them) will be in service to how I feel each day, actually enjoying myself at least a little each day, and allowing for more variety in my day to day experience.

All of these adjustments mean that a calendar year through hike is no longer in the cards for me. I’ve done the math and there is just no way for me to make it in the time I have left with this new approach. There is no way to keep up the previous approach for the sake of both my physical and mental health. Part of the processing (grieving?) I’ve had to do this week is to let the idea of me one day being a calendar year through hiker go. It’s been something I’ve thought about (and planned for 😝 ) for so long, letting it go hasn’t been easy.

But, I think as I let that go, it’s also helping me work on letting go of the part of myself that got me into this situation, and probably lots of other situations in my “real” life: the part that wants to have a big plan and execute it perfectly, exactly as I imagined it.

What I learned in the few weeks I was on trail that I will take back with me for the next few weeks on trail and hopefully will stick with me long after I hang up my trekking poles is this: the trail has too many variables, too many unknowns to bend itself to the will of my little plan. No matter how much I think I know, how many variables I think I’ve taken into account, the trail has more up its sleeve. Big plans and goals will always be a part of who I am. I am just starting to develop a different way of achieving them – one that is much more anchored in the reality of the present moment.






10 responses to “Adjustment”

  1. David Lyell Avatar
    David Lyell

    I’ve been following along, these are wise words. Best of luck on the rest of the journey!

  2. James Avatar

    As you might imagine, I’m both appreciative of your retrospection and encouraged by the personal growth you have and will continue to have through this journey. Realization, acceptance, and peace of mind. It seems like that, alone, is worth the experience.

  3. Joshua Mitchell Avatar
    Joshua Mitchell

    Here it is – you’re moment of zen

    1. Joshua Mitchell Avatar
      Joshua Mitchell

      Your 🙄

  4. Nancy Harris Avatar
    Nancy Harris

    Our expectations aren’t always God’s plan for hiking or life. Sounds like you have learned a lot in the last few weeks. May you get through the grieving process, and reach for your new goals. Love you.

  5. Alan Pickett Avatar
    Alan Pickett

    I am very inspired and impressed. Living all of this vicariously through you, even the rough patches and disappointments. As an over-achiever, I could see myself making similar errors and macro goals without taking into account the details nor making time to ‘smell the roses.’ Your plan sounds solid – now own it. I’ll be waiting for your next posts and following your progress.

  6. Eric Avatar

    Sounds like some good adjustments and valuable personal learning. I can only imagine the disappointment of having planned so much and having things go awry and not being able to complete the calendar year through hike goal you’ve had for so long, but this learning seems worth the cost. Hopefully you’ll find it so.

    I’m looking forward to hearing that you are well rested and recovered and ready to tackle the rest of the journey.

    1. Chris Avatar

      I find it so for sure. Everything is a teacher if you just pay attention

  7. Shannon Avatar

    I think it is very “on brand” that you have already gleaned so much from this journey. And you only needed a few weeks to learn what takes most people months and many more miles!!

    I know it has been tough letting go of your big goal, but you have so much to proud of already. And the personal growth you have already gained is worth the journey.

    Now get better and go have fun at Trail Days!!

  8. Martin Hasenstrauch Avatar
    Martin Hasenstrauch

    Hi Chris,
    I was reading the below article and there was a sentence that made me think of you and your latest post.
    Pirsig said, “Pay attention to where you’re at right now and not where you’re going to be in the future.” Enjoy the journey, he told readers, and don’t fixate on the destination.”

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