Nostalgia is one of the most powerful emotions – it can make you feel fully enwraped in a prior moment’s feelings. The echo of past laughter reverberates through your bones, the long-past sense of solace and serenity brings you peace in the present and that nostalgia blankets you.
This can all be brought on with the force of a car crash. You re-feel everything. Close your eyes and you’re there. That moment from years ago is resurrected.
A simple glance at the scars I earned on my thru hike brings back all my days on the Appalachian Trail. It fills me up, warms me and comforts me. At the end of my reverie, though, is a fall from that emotional high. It becomes apparent that all those emotions are past tense. The serenity, joy and peace suddenly leave a synthetic after taste. That momentarily blissful rollercoaster ride leaves me lusting after organic emotions. That nostalgia frees me and begs for me to search for the next earth-shattering personal experience and moment of connection.
Everyone says to “enjoy the journey.” I am, but sometimes it’s hard. Now that Katahdin, the final mountain I’ve been walking toward since March, is 220 miles away, I can’t help but want to be there. Friends keep posting their iconic Katahdin summit pictures almost every day, and I would love to be touching the summit of the mountain that initially seemed unreachable.
The other day, I stopped short because the mountains were hard and the day had been long. I threw up my tent atop the beautiful Mount Old Blue, but I felt uneasy. I loved the view, the serenity and the hushed bird chirps, but I couldn’t help but think how I had ended early. Why would I end early when I could’ve made Katahdin 10 miles closer that day? Being tired feels like no excuse right now. It’s almost as if I should simply let my feet walk until I reach the mountain. No sleep, no rest. Just walk. My feet itch to be scraping the sides of the slippery rocks in Baxter State Park. Everything I do that delays the union of my body and Katahdin seems to eat away at me. I don’t want to look back at the Maine section and regret going too fast, but I also want the rush of a goal accomplished.
To help pace me, motivate me and make sure I let myself laugh throughout the final two weeks I’m meeting up with some old trail family (The Four Day Family). They kept it slow, and had some emergency, that has allowed us to be within catching up range. I’ll take a short day into Caratunk, Maine to reunite with them. We’ll tackle the 100 Mile Wilderness and Katahdin together. I’m happy to be getting back with familiar faces. I know they’ll keep me on track mentally, so I can’t wait for Sunday. Here’s to enjoying the journey, but also fighting to accomplish a goal.