A year has passed since I started my 4 month thru-hike in Georgia. As I reflect back on my hike, I smile. Each time I pull my orange patagonia jacket, I’m reminded of the difficulty but sheer pleasure that I associate with the Appalachian Trail. I frequently chat with Gadget, Renaissance, Dr. Bundy and WhiteFang— we’re considering a reunion bike trip this summer. I’ve been in touch with JDRF and the Endocrine group at Baystate Medical Center; they both really appreciate your huge contributions last year.
I’d like to thank everybody who supported me, everybody who contributed to the charity effort, everybody who helped me assimilate back into normal life (it actually wasn’t difficult), and most of all my family. I am so blessed to have had the opportunity to take a 4 month hiatus from my routine.
Hopefully this serves as a gentle reminder for us to stay upbeat, to take time to reflect and to slow down, to appreciate the people around us, to spend time each day observing the world and to keep smiling as we each hike through our own lives.
I will be in Boston this summer working for a company called GrabCAD (a social networking website for engineers). I invite each of you to come visit. I’d love to get a few day/weekend hiking trips planned. I’m also quite interested in doing triathlons or other fun athletic events. My hike taught me that experiences like that are best shared, so if you can let’s do something together!
Happy 2012! Do something fun this year :)
We raised $11,124 dollars! Congratulations! Half will benefit JDRF (Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation) and half will benefit the Baystate Pediatric Endocrinology Group (our highest donors) in Springfield, MA. Thank you so much to everybody who took part. All donations of over $50 will receive a receipt in the mail before the end of summer.
I have a new blog! It’s through the MIT admissions website, and I will likely keep blogging there until I graduate in 2013. I simply write about my thoughts and experiences… hopefully it’s interesting enough! Bookmark my new homepage if you want to read: http://mitadmissions.org/blogs/author/gabe
I just returned from Snowbird, Utah. I was extremely fortunate to attend ‘Horizons’ – a weeklong leadership training workshop facilitated by my fraternity, Sigma Chi. One evening, we visited the summit of Snowbird Mountain. I felt my first strong tug back to trail-life that night. The sun dropped below the 11,000 foot rocky outcrops extending up from the opposite side of the valley as if yearning to touch outer space. I teared up as blue surrendered to darkness, as the sun fell and the moon rose. Before tucking into my overly comfy queen hotel bed that night, I called Dr. Bundy.
We spoke for almost an hour. He’s back in rural Mississippi, still thrilled to be back to his beautiful girlfriend, his family and his friends. He’s anxiously anticipating the start of medical school in under a month. But we both agreed, life is not the same since our hike. It’s good to be back in ‘real’ life, but I miss the Trail. I miss the strange combination of a strong goal (Katahdin) with a super relaxed pace of life. I miss the people, both close friends like Dr. Bundy, WhiteFang and Renaissance, and random acquaintances (Kitchen Sink types). I especially miss the simplicity.
My three main takeaways from this experience?
1) Materials and money do not equal happiness
So long as you have a certain amount of each, you don’t need more. Give it away. Living out of a 38-liter backpack taught me exactly what I need and what I don’t.
2) Experiences are best shared
Except for certain reflective outings, I want the people in my life who I care about to share future experiences and adventures with me. Enough is enough with time alone, and hiking all of June void of companionship showed me that.
3) Hike your own hike, and enjoy it
That’s what Hot Rock (the shuttler who whisked me to the AT in Georgia) told me. And he was right. Perhaps this is part of any young man’s coming of age, but I started to trust my own judgment while making decisions on the Trail.
So that’s it. That’s all. I will forever be an AT thru-hiker. I’ll never forget my encounters with bears, moose and falling trees. I’ll always hold the memories with Dr. Bundy, WhiteFang, Renaissance and Gadget close to my heart. I will endeavor never to forget of the misery of frozen socks, sore knees and buggy swamps. This last one will be hard, because I already look back and laugh. It wasn’t so bad, I tell myself. Even in the moments of misery, I knew I’d come to feel this way. But man, was I miserable. The journey was hard, and very long. But I recommend it to anyone who seeks to experience the Appalachian mountains, challenge themselves, and meet the coolest people in the world at the pace life should be: Two miles per hour.
Over & Out,
Click here to check out the 200 pictures that I feel sum up my hike!
DONATIONS WILL CLOSE ON JULY 17th at midnight. So far we have raised slightly over $11,000. Please consider donating if you haven’t already!