It’s true. We ended our journey at the half-way point.
Our last zero day was in Waynesboro, Va. I was nursing a spider bite that turned my ankle into mush, and a probable Lyme disease infection (a bullseye rash developed on my leg). I took antibiotics, but I couldn’t go another step.
We do plan on going back to where we ended and continuing our journey. “Section Hiker” status doesn’t sound as ambitious as “Thru-Hiker”, but seriously… is there an international society/regulation board for these sort of things? And if there is why would I want to join it? Over a thousand miles of hiking, with a 13 year old boy in the beginning stages of teen angst. That should earn me something. And this journey was about him, not me. He called it, pulled the plug, etc., etc. I would have done the middle aged man stupid thing and continued on.
“It looks pretty bad, Dad.”
“I can handle it.”
“We did ten miles today. We were doing 18 and 20.”
“The swelling will go down.”
“You can’t even straighten it out.”
“I’ll be better tomorrow.”
“Let’s call Mom. We’ll go home, and come back next June to finish.”
“I can make the next shelter.”
“You can’t make the next water source.”
“You wanna camp here?”
So we made the call and came home.
I lost over 30 pounds and now have a thirty inch waist (we will see if that lasts). Not only did we see bears, but had close encounters with them. Some were curious, some were oblivious, others just ran like scalded cats. I hit one in the head with a rock and chased it off with a trekking pole. Bailey threw a rock at one, while half asleep, and told it to be quiet. It ran off as well.
Snakes were plentiful. So much so that we had a “Snake O’ The Day” contest. Rattlesnakes, copperheads, rat snakes, etc.
Saw a pig on top of Unaka Mt., and chickens wandering around as we made our way to Glasgow. Ponies in Grayson Highlands, and potheads galore after Damascus.
My ankle still has a golf ball sized welt at the joint. And a small hole where the little spider/thing bit me. A casual reminder that the most painful things out there are not 600 pound bruins, but tiny insects which have an endgame we can only guess.