I must admit it’s a little strange sitting in a coffee shop writing a blog. The entire summer has been full of discomfort and pushing though pain and adversity. Now I can sip on a coffee, be surrounded by people, and reflect on the journey.
Believe it or not, 425 miles is still a long way even with 1700+ behind you 🙂 The final stretch was just as humbling as the beginning. Throughout TN/NC there is a definite feeling of remoteness. I would even go so far as to say the last Friday and Saturday were the toughest days on the trail. My mileage for the week were as follows: 54.4, 40.4, 51, 40, 41.2, 47.9 On Friday, I began from I-40 1.7 miles from Davenport Gap and set out on a 33 mile uncrewed section followed by another 8 to Clingmans Dome. 30 minutes into this section came a downpour along with a cooler temperature. I fought off hypothermia for the next 8 hours, which would eventually take its toll on me. The last mile to Clingmans was brutal for me, I had no energy and it took everything in me to take a step. The entire time I couldn’t help but wonder how I was gonna get from Clingmans to Fontana dam to start out the next day. The crew picked me up at Clingmans and took me to the camper. I couldn’t eat, felt like throwing up, and had a fever. So I took a couple ibuprofen and curled up shivering in my sleeping bag. 45 minutes later the fever broke and I ate, this could have been really bad! The next day was just as tough. Finished off the week with a 47.9 mile day, bringing it to a 275 mile week. 150.7 miles from Springer!
Knowing I needed a big day on Monday to finish at a decent hour Wednesday, I got a 4:15 am start. At 9:50 pm I was at 65 miles for the day, which was the biggest day of the trip and took me 7 miles from the GA border!!! 48 Tuesday left me 37 miles from the finish. Knowing there would be so many friends at the finish made the last day so nice for me. Also, having regularly run this section, I felt at home. The downside to this day is I was very aware how incredible this opportunity has been. Knowing I would be entering back into society soon gave me some mixed emotions. Knowing I would not wake up every morning to 15 hours alone with God everyday was definitely saddening. In my life pre-AT I have never spent 15 hours in one day focused on being with God. Having spent 49.5 days on the trail and 57.5 days total away from the distraction of the world has been life-changing. So, I finished up the final 37 miles at 4:46 pm and was welcomed by Amy and Malachi, along with 30 or so more of my closest friends.
I had been dreaming of touching the rock on Springer mountain for over a year. Everyday I woke up with reaching this rock as fast as I could as my mission. Now I was here. I thought I would be overwhelmed with emotion, but instead of being overwhelmed I was grateful. I am grateful that God would use me as a vessel to carry out a mission. I am grateful he would give me such an incredible community of people who support this mission. I am grateful I met so many incredible people throughout the trail and in each town. I am grateful to have such a supportive and loving wife, and grateful to have such an awesome son. More than anything, I am grateful that I am so weak and such a failure according to my own capabilities, God used my life to show how great He is.
I know you are scared to take that next step, to jump into what God has been calling you for so long. It may be jumping into submitting your life to him. You may fail, and that’s okay. God created everything including your very life. He promises to work through all your circumstances for the greatest outcome. He sees far beyond our tiny little life and our spec of a circumstance, something we are incapable of doing. Failure is always an option, sometimes it’s the best one. Put yourself out there, and give every bit of yourself to the end. God only calls you to obey, the outcome is his to determine.
Thank you for following the journey on the AT. I will continue to keep y’all updated on what’s next. Please visit Village of Eden campaign to give toward our $100,000 goal for the Village of Eden orphanage in Uganda. It may take a while to get there, but if you followed or are inspired by this journey please consider giving what you can to the Village of Eden. If you have access to reading this blog, you are probably thousands of times more fortunate than the Ugandan orphans we are raising money for and will eventually go and serve first hand. Thank you, it means more than you may know.
57 days 9 hours 20 minutes: 2185 miles