Maryland Rte. 16 to Harpers Ferry, WV

Trip Start Sep 09, 2006
Trip End Sep 19, 2006

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Where I stayed
Doyle hotel

Flag of United States  , West Virginia
Tuesday, September 19, 2006

I have decided to stop hiking with Anna and Garrett. That's the logistic news. If you sent mail for me to Linden or Waynesboro, please let me know so I can arrange to get it sometime. The emotional news is that I am proud of myself for finding a way speak up for myself during my extended time off. For the detailed story, read below. As usual, I have taken lots of time to write about this decision and have written many words.

about twenty miles into a 25 mile day in southern MD 17 September, I stubbed my toe painfully and had to stop to administer some first aid while anna and garrett looked on. Earlier in the day i had packed my first aid supplies carefully near the top of my pack. in my fatigue and frustration, however, I could not find my supplies. I thought maybe I had forgotten them at our l last campsite and started telling myself what a careless and clumsy hiker I was. then I found the supplies and used the alcohol wipe and decided that was enough. I couldn't walk at our normal pace, so i told the others to go ahead. As they cruised on down the trail, I wallowed back into self pity, feeling all kinds of bad things about myself. I know consciously that none of these things are true. My feelings were persistent, however, and I knew I had to find a way to address them. I started thinking about my motivation for joining Anna.

My original motivation was to provide company and support in the second half of her trip, even though Anna and Garrett had already decided to start the trip together. Another motivation was to spend time with Anna, building on the three years we lived near each other in Philadephia. It was not clear to anyone, including them, whether or not this would work out so I continued my preparations over the summer. But in the first few days of hiking with them it was clear they developed a carefully balanced process for planning their days and weeks on the trail. And they had developed a commitment to build on their relationship, established before starting to hike and nurtured over the past few months. In our room at the Doyle Hotel ( in Duncannon on 11 September we talked about how I could not fully participate in the future planning of the trip because I don't share their experience with pacing and using the trail guides and maps. I accepted that I would simply hike along with them and contribute to the planning as my experience grew. Trudging along the trail down in MD, I realized that this acceptance was harder for me than I realized. I had no voice in the project. And it wasn't even MY project. I was along for the ride, but Anna doesn't need my support. She and Garrett have learned how to support each other. So why was I there? How could I make this time my own?

I also realized that I could walk faster despite my minor injury; that my slow pace only gave my self-pity more room to fester. So I picked it up and caught Anna. We talked about my frustration with small injuries and my doubts about motivation. She shared her anxiety trying to fit me into their careful balance of priorities. That's why you don't see many teams of three adults through-hiking (we had heard about some families with adolescent children hiking). We talked about how I could have some voice in the project and make it my own. I would need to study and read and prepare to through-hike the AT, not just join such a project more than half complete (counting their preparation time and energy). This would then make two projects, not one, and mean I would hike on my own. This would also require me to take time off from the trail to make such preparations. I began to realize that I didn't have any purely individual motivation for hiking on the AT this fall.

As we got to the shelter to which Garrett had gone ahead, we talked more about it over dinner and I decided to leave the trail. It was a pretty easy decision, especially when we realized, with hindsight, that we were really learning through experimentation. We had no idea how it would work for me to join them. I had no idea how well they would be working together. All we could do was try. And it wasn't working out in the most positive way for anyone. Hiking with Anna and Garrett wasn't building on my relationship with Anna and she didn't need my support as a hiking partner. I was getting frustrated with my lack of voice in the project. So it was a big experiment, even though we had to treat like a big plan in order to test the hypothesis. We learned something, as one does in any sucessful experiment. We learned that joining an AT through hike for more than half of the mileage with less than full study preparation is complicated. We learned that joining Anna and Garrett for such a long section disrupts the careful balance they have established. I learned how to pay attention to my needs and find a way to make this time my own.

Coincidentally, Dad was planning to meet us in Harpers Ferry to bring some gear, etc. yesterday morning. We hiked down out of the MD mountains to where the Potomac and Shenandoah rivers meet. Anna and Garrett had their pictures taken at the headquarters of the Appalachain Trail Conservancy ( as numbers 37 and 38 southbound through hikers. We did our exchanging with Dad, and I got in the car. Anna and Garrett continued on their journey. If you want to read about their hike, go to ( (Earlier on 17 Sept we met some trail angels at a road crossing who gave us cokes and snickers. as we started to hike again, almost as an afterthought, we exchanged names. When Terry and Maria heard that Anna and Garrett were Bluebird and Buster, they were very excited because they have been following their online trail journal since Maine! A & G are national trail celebrities!)

I'm at my parents' home now (1019 Country Club Dr.; Martinsville, VA 24112). I may go back and hike some 5-day sections of the AT later this fall. Sooner rather than later, though, I hope to go visit with Kate in Indiana before she leaves for her trip to India 19 October (in advance of our 2007 Southeast Asia trip). I'll also be thinking about our trip and studying some languages of the region. I may pop up to Philly, but I can't promise anything.

Thank you all for your support, care, love and interest in this grand experiment of life.

each step is destination,
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