Know when to fold ’em…

Sometimes, when a song pops into your head, you should listen to it. Sometimes, just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should. Like today. I had to fold, I had to bail on the trail. “What, so soon?” some of you may be asking. Yep, with a forecast calling for 6-12 inches of snow tonight, I’m no dummy.

No matter how much I want to get these lost miles of the trail done, it’s not worth it at this point. Forget for a moment about the impending storm and the thought of having to break trail through the snow — I didn’t have cell service last night where I camped. Any long time blog follower knows that lack of connectability is par for the course along the AT, but knowing that my family was worried about me and I couldn’t get in touch to let them know I was okay — that made me feel really bad and really selfish.

Until this point I had been hiking in warmer weather and hiking during thru-hiker season, when it was guaranteed I’d see others along the way. With a hiker community around me, I would have never truly been alone in the woods if I had decided to hike by myself. The majority of thru-hikers my dad and I met were on solo expeditions and hiked along with great success. But I didn’t see another sole out on my trek this time.

And though it felt good strapping that pack back on, getting my heart and legs pumping, setting up camp, crawling in that sleeping bag and not being afraid to be alone — it didn’t feel right knowing that my husband was concerned for my safety and couldn’t get in touch. At least when my dad and I were hiking together and had no cell service, our at-home partners could breathe easier knowing we had each other to rely on in case something went awry.

The threat of injury or bad weather is always a valid concern whether you’re hiking alone or in a group. But when you hike alone, you can’t be callous about it. I’m proud of myself for giving it a go and making it through a brutally cold night in the woods and not being scared, but I respect my family enough to know when to call it quits.

Lucky for me, I had some guardian trail angels named Michelle and Ber who happened to be at their weekend house in the Berkshires today. When I did get cell service today, I was able to give them a ring. They were kind enough to pick me up from the trail and bring me back to Lee, MA where I could catch the bus back to NYC.

So I’m on the bus, Gus. I’ll make a new plan, Stan. And I’ll make the rest of these 75 miles of the Appalachian Trail up at some point. But it doesn’t have to be in the snow and it doesn’t have to be alone.

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13 Responses to Know when to fold ’em…

  1. Gil Langswager says:

    You’re doing the right thing. I admire your courage.

  2. amy wolfe says:

    you don’t have to be coy roy just come to cali and do the PCT! …haha!! i’m glad ur following your intuition on this, and its not leading u into a blizzard, its taking you homeward to your cuddly warm hubbie! two big beefy thumbs up to u!! and a gynormous smile from cali! madd love and give the lion inside of you a good rub behind the ears, some toothpaste, perhaps binaca, and maybe a comb….and promise her you will always be true to her!!!
    love you girl!!

    • Mel says:

      I just imagined a miniature version of you riding on the shoulder strap of my backpack throughout the hike. It would’ve been some amazing encouragement! (If I didn’t fall down laughing the whole way!!)
      Love you!

  3. June and Scott says:

    The AT will be there, it’s not going anywhere!! Better to be safe then sorry!

    June and Scott

  4. SusanS says:

    So glad you didn’t try to tough it out. You definitely did the right thing and have plenty of time to finish those miles.

  5. Yo Mel you don’t have to make any excuses why your using good sense.
    There is always next season, when there will be lots of thru-hikers,when you will have much better weather. Why rush it, you are young.
    Who knows maybe when next years hiking season starts, perhaps your hubby may be able to hike the trail with you to fulfill the section you need to complete the entire hike.

    Not for nothing but only bull headed morons go beyond their own judgement to do what they think they can do,but can’t and wind up hurt,or dead.

    We who are your friends & went along with you and your Dad on the Appy,electronically this year,can fully understand where your coming from.

    Do what you think is best for you,& be happy.

  6. Jim Priestley says:

    You’re a smart cookie, Mel. I’m glad you made the right decision!

    Be Well and happy,

  7. Nachita says:

    The winter stuff is NOT fun. We had snow and temps in the teens in the Smokies, which was definitely beyond the limits of our gear. We still have 107 miles to go (came home for Thanksgiving) and we’re heading out tomorrow, planning to summit Springer on Saturday.
    I saw a comment on here from Brew Ha–do you have his email? We would love to catch up with him here in Atlanta….
    Congrats on the wedding!

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