Archive | September, 2013

Broken Silence

13 Sep

My heart still beats.  My lungs still inflate.  I am alive.  [Though down a toe:]

Leaving the Trail was much more painful than this.

Leaving the Trail was much more painful than this.

I haven’t posted… in a while… because I have been living in a swirl of head-spinning change, which has made me want to crawl into a hole rather than broadcast my abstruse emotions over the blogosphere.

The short and skinny of it is that I left the Trail because I got my dream job.

Leaving the Trail was devastating.

It all happened very abruptly, and that day was one of the hardest of my life.  No joke.

We sat on a rock in New York, and he promised me he’d finish.

“But I never would have made it here without you.”

I would have called him a liar, but I already knew this.  He would have hiked home to Pennsylvania and never left.

“Use the hand sanitizer,” I said.

This was a joke.  I had done everything but eat the stuff and had still been the Trail’s harbinger of sickness.

I attempted to dam the stream of tears flooding my face, I hugged Bojangles, and I watched him clamor over the rocks away from me.  He turned around and waved and then disappeared into the woods.

Five minutes later, I got a text.  He’d been stung by a bee.  I bawled.

It was so hard.  Hiking the Trail with Bo was my whole life.  Every second of every minute of every hour of every day.  It took 5 hours on a highway to get me back to the real world, but more than a month to get me where I can type this.

I may fill in the details later, but in the interest of continuity, here’s where we’re at:

Since I recovered from the tonsillectomy, Bojangles and I finished up the very tail end of Virginia, went through West Virginia, Maryland, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and into New York.  I left Bojangles where the AT crosses West Mombasha Road at mile 1374.7.

Since then, his pace has considerably slowed, undoubtedly due to lack of the great slave driver Oxy.  BUT, like a champ, he’s hiked all the way through Connecticut, Massachusetts, Vermont, and New Hampshire.  He’s now at mile 1887.6, and we shall follow him as he goes the last 300 miles!

The weekend before last, I visited him in the White Mountain National Forest of New Hampshire.  Being there, amidst Bojangles and other scruffy hikers — a bizarre clan of which I was no longer a part — was emotional.  Nostalgia, failure, guilt, regret swirled ribbons around my head.

Bo didn’t understand.  “The AT gave you your dream job,” he said.  “It hasn’t given me shit.”

Here's Bo a few days ago on the top of Mt. Washington in the Whites of New Hampshire.

Bo a few days ago on the top of Mt. Washington in the Whites of New Hampshire.  Obviously, the AT did give him something:  a homeless person’s beard.