I Finished the Trail!

Summit Picture

Why are my elbows bent backwards, you ask? Got me. But you get a prize for being the 1000th person to ask. *le sigh* Let’s just say it’s cause I was so excited.

 

That’s me, on August 1st, 2018, finished with the trail. Yep— I made it. After all these years I’m an Appalachian Trail thru-hiker.

It was (obviously) a long journey. And I have a confession: I barely blogged any of it.

There are a few reasons for this, as far as I can tell.

 

  1. I’m not good at publishing things that I feel are sub-par. I realized this when I met my hiking partner, Maya, who blogged for every day of the trail. She wrote well, but she had a formula and every sentence didn’t have to be Shakespeare. She was just talking about her day and inviting her readers to participate— nothing elaborate or burdensomely eloquent. On the other hand, I suffered burn out because I felt like every post had to be a work art. Which brings me to my next point.
  2. I had too many other things I was worrying about. And when I felt that on top of showering, resupplying, eating, sleeping, cleaning everything, flushing out filters, doing laundry, interacting with people in town, all in under 24 hours— I just didn’t have time to write and edit something that I wanted to be perfect. Plus, while in town I was usually recovering from extreme cold, ravenous hunger, snow, trench foot, or other serious and physical stressers. I just didn’t have room in my brain, while under such strain, for quality writing. So why did I want I to be perfect?
  3. I was scared of my audience. Not you guys, obviously. But I was primarily blogging on the trek, where one of my posts got over 300 shares and I can only imagine how many views. That terrified me, and further impressed on me the need to make my posts immaculate. With so many eyes watching me, how could I afford to publish something I hadn’t edited heavily?
  4. There is a fourth reason, which is harder to describe. I had a vague sense that I wanted to enjoy my hike on its own terms, existing entirely within the moment, even if it meant that I couldn’t vicariously appreciate that moment later, through the medium I had recorded it on. I had spent a lot of my life up to that point trying desperately to record everything that happened to me, lest it slip through my fingers and be lost forever. I’ve kept notebooks for this purpose since I was old enough to write, and at that time I was keeping two, plus two blogs. It started to get to my head, giving my anxiety. I was beginning to just want to live my life, no strings attached. No matter how I want to, I can’t record everything in my life.

 

All of this culminated in an abandoned blog on the trek. It really wasn’t an acceptable thing to do, whatever my reasons, and for that I apologize. I should have at least left a note when I decided to stop blogging. But I didn’t. I felt emotionally incapable of taking that step.  And I can’t change what happened.

Anyway, here I am again. Safe home, a thru-hiker, well fed and dry and warm. So what are my plans now?

Well, I really don’t know. I’m going to college in autumn, but I couldn’t tell you where. Right now I’m busy applying to seemingly everything, and I’ll know my plan better once I know where I’ve been accepted.

I’m also planning on saving money. This is to offset any costs of college that inevitably fall on my shoulders. I’m trying to go debt free, but I know that it’s hard to get a completely free education, so hopefully the money I raise this year can cover those costs. I don’t have that job now because I’m still applying to schools. I’ll probably get it sometime in October.

So that’s what’s up with me. Now, what about the blog?

Well, there are a few directions I can go with this blog.

I could abandon it (which would be sad), I could continue to post stories from the Appalachian Trail (which would be entertaining, and might make up for all the missed posts), or I could post updates on my life as it is now (maybe a bit boring to you, but interesting to me).

I think I might do a combination of the three: fewer posts, with content alternating between what’s going on now, and stories from the trail.

Unfortunately, the blog just can’t be a priority right now, with lots of pressing college application and financial obligations on me. I’m trying to set up the next stage of my life, and it’s proving to be a taxing effort. But don’t worry: this blog is a special place to me. I doubt I’ll ever truly abandon it.

Until next time,

Eliza