Take yourself out of your normal routine and you begin to appreciate the intricacies of what makes up your life. When I first started hiking the AT in March, I was overwhelmed by how much I appreciated everything that my life was. In a post after just one week on the trail, first zero, I talk a little bit about the gratitude I felt for what my life consists of. I was excited to be challenging myself physically - the pain and little aggravations, the sweat flowing from my pores, the weight of 30 lbs on my back. And getting into a town for the first time couldn't have made me happier. There wasn't a great story to why people started calling me Towns, but it has proved to fit me well. I look forward to the towns in the way that one looks forward to a vacation. The whole trail-life thing is magnificent, but throw in every now and then a night in a bed, a cooked meal, an iced cold drink, wonderful people, and the opportunity to talk on my phone for as long as I want, and it really makes the whole experience special. It has been the contrast between being out in the woods for days and then coming into the towns that has really made the journey what it is for me.
I am about 150 miles into Virginia and I couldn't imagine ever getting tired of it. I feel like the novelty of anything wears off after awhile, even incredible things like hiking the Appalachian Trail, and so it's important to find new ways to look at things or have new goals to achieve. The "Virginia Blues", thru-hikers so often talk about, are often attributed to the 550 miles of trail in the state and the monotony of the landscape. But the much more simple explanation is just that the novelty of a thru-hike has worn off. By Virginia, a thru-hiker has already seen incredible views, tented in storms (maybe not tornadoes), met hundreds of amazing people, hitch-hiked into towns, woken up sore all over, eaten every flavor of knorr sides and pop-tarts, received boatloads of trail magic, been nearly eaten alive by bears, snakes, or mosquitoes (or all 3). The excitement of the unknown for most is lost after the first 500 miles, and to think you have more mileage in Virginia than you have hiked prior to Virginia is overwhelming and depressing for some people. I guess.
But that's what this trip is all about! It's all the Appalachian Trail whether you're in Virginia, or Georgia, or Mount Katahdin, Maine. Sure it feels good to get to a new state, and the goal of conquering Virginia takes a little bit longer than the rest, but there are so many other goals, too! I will have taken almost two full weeks off the trail when I get back out there, and it's given me time to really appreciate the amazing trip that I'm on. My normal routine was becoming the trail and coming back home for this little bit has really made me appreciate my thru-hike more. When my mom joined me in Virginia for a day on Mother's Day she went on and on about how beautiful everything was and I was going on and on about how much the trail just looked like Georgia again. I was disappointed the trail wasn't like it had been in the previous days - I was spoiled. I've been able to regain some perspective again and I'm looking forward to getting back out there. The friends I have met on the trail are long gone by now, but I will most certainly meet a whole new group of great people.
And it has been so great to be home for this time, too. Yesterday really couldn't have gone better and I'm so happy and relieved. I've loved being able to be home and peek into my post-trail life without job responsibilities. It's all been so wonderful - it has me really excited for my future. But I've set out to complete the Appalachian Trail and that's what I'm going to do - 602 miles down, 1577 left. Time will fly by, so I just got to keep making the most of the now.