COUNTDOWN….. 9 DAYS
Well I got the official word that Sarah (trail name, Ent) has left the trail. She started on March 16th from Springer Mountain. It was not difficult to tell that she was in trouble on March 18 after facing several days of cold and rain. In her sad post that day, she shared, “I’m very seriously thinking of quitting. I’m not sure this is my dream anymore….The wet and cold hasn’t let up. I cried a lot last night, I cried today while hiking, I cried when I called my parents or got texts from brothers and sisters. I’m a mess. Now that I’m at a hostel, I guess I’m a clean and dry mess. Today, I could barely see 20 feet in front of me – not even a nice view to convince me! People are good but I hate everything else.” I really thought she was done at that point.
Then came a post on March 20th – she was still at the hostel but in a much better frame of mind. She was encouraged to make another go of it when the sun broke out. Ent then went silent for many days. Again, I thought she had called it quits and was making her way back home. But I was wrong – instead she made a great recovery and on April 8 she posted again. She had hiked 100 miles and had blasted out of Georgia and found herself in North Carolina.
Reading this post, I thought she had really turned the corner and had made the adjustment to trail life. With 100 miles under one’s pack and a state borderline crossed I was thinking that Ent had made the needed adjustment to continue the long trail. And in essence I think this was true. I believe that Sarah had the perspective and understanding of what the trail demanded and what sacrifice was required to make it to Maine.
But then on April 14th, she made her final A.T. post. She was stepping off the trail…. for all the right reasons. The rationale was based on experience not emotion, on wisdom not the weather, on intelligence not insecurity. I really admire Ent for two basic reasons. One, she hung in there and did not bail when the going was tough. Sarah fought through the tears, the cold, the rain and continued a difficult hike in the face of discouragement – that is solid bravery and courage! Two, Ent waited for perspective and then made the best decision for herself. The feeling of letting others down and the self-guilt of quitting can result in foolish decisions leading to injury and depression. I admire and applaud Sarah for her endurance and her resolve.
Photo of Sarah from http://thruhikeat2014.wordpress.com