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Leaving Hoboken

So it’s the night before I catch my flight down to Atlanta. The past three and a half weeks have been an absolute whirlwind. Just a short time ago, I was a man with an apartment in Hoboken and a rocking job. And now I’m about to become an unkempt dude who’s day is made up of walking many miles per day.

Leaving Hoboken was one of the toughest decisions in this whole process. Not only did I leave a great city, I left a great job, and above all, I left great people. Everyone was awesome as I told them about my crazy proposed journey. I got a lot of raised eyebrows, but they were always followed by warm words and smiles. And another awesome thing – I finally got to meet Kiran, who I’ve worked with so closely over the past two years, but never met in person! It was a great experience to be able to meet up with him after all this time. There’s Kiran on the left, along with my other (former) 🙁 coworkers – Laura, Erica, Jenny, my brother Matt, and then me on the right.

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So I just wanted to say thanks to everyone up in Hoboken. I wish I had some more pictures, especially of my Thursday night party! It was awesome seeing Meg, Bill and Falco before I left. And I can’t forget John – you are a great friend. I can’t name everyone here, but you know who you all are. Each of you made Hoboken a very special place for me. I’ll see you all again soon I know!

Edit: And the Des Monster comes through strong! Here’s a pic from the Farside gathering. 🙂

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Something I’ve Left Out For a Reason – My (stoogy) Siblings

As some of you probably noticed, I failed to mention anything about the going away party at Jay’s in any of my earlier posts. No, I was not being forgetful. I just wanted to give that party, and the reason behind it, it’s proper place.

When I decided to do the Trail, aside from my parents, the only people that I initially told were my siblings, Matt, Paul, and D. My plan was going to be to tell a few people, and then kind of slip away into the foggy mountain dew. I didn’t want to make a big deal about leaving, or attempting the trip – not sure why. But anyway, that was what I thought was going to happen. Much to my surprise, my siblings threw an awesome going away party for me at Jay’s. Not only did they gather friends and family from around town, they got a bunch of UD guys to make the trip (thanks a ton for coming guys, that was awesome). I walked right into their sneaky trap – I had no idea what was going on!

So what I really want to say here is that having people like them around you for your whole life is really something invaluable. It’s really amazing to see the things good brothers and sisters will do for each other. Although they foiled my plan of a sneaky exit into the mountain fog :), I greatly appreciate them getting everyone together for my sending off. It’s difficult to articulate or write what it means to me, but know that it’s truly something special. To have people gather to send me off with a few beers, although a relatively small act, is truly something powerful. And it has stuck with me through this journey, and will continue to be one of my fondest memories no matter where I go from here.

Terrible Tang out here said something to me the other day that really resonated with me. We were talking about brothers and sisters and how growing up there was always a battle about something or other (he has 2 older sisters, and and older brother). He’s now about 35 or so, and like me, his siblings have become his best friends. He said something along the lines of “It takes time to realize what we truly have in siblings. You don’t just have brothers or sisters, you have people that you have literally shared your whole life with, from the very beginning, to the very end.” That is really something that is difficult to comprehend, but it’s something very special as well. So thanks for everything you’ve done, and everything you will do – I appreciate it with all my heart.

Home – A Conglomeration of Celebrations

So in my very lazy post from the end of my time spent at home, I told you guys I wanted to share some thoughts about the weekend I had at home. So I’ll try not to get too sentimental, although I admit, I have a couple of times before (and will do so in the future – so deal with it as you see fit, preferable by eating tons of mayonaise).

People sometimes ask me if it’s “ok” to take time off the trail for the things I’ve taken off for – Celli’s bachelor party, my parent’s anniversary party, Nat and Dan’s wedding, Meg and Bill’s baby [even though I wasn’t there] and in the future, Celli’s wedding). Honestly, I’m not sure if it’s frowned upon or not, but I don’t really care. There are much more important things in life than being able to walk 2,100 miles without taking a break from it. So I’ll gladly compromise my pristine walking record for the priviledge of being included in these celebrations.

It is an absolute honor for me to be a part of these things.

I never considered myself a person good at making friends, but looking at it all now, I must say, somehow I’ve done pretty damn well. I count all of you among my best friends. Somehow I’ve made your acquaintance, and you’ve liked me enough to let me stick around 🙂

So to everyone who has let me be a part of their lives, and to everyone who takes the time to read this blog (I can’t believe how many of there you are – you surely must have better things to do!), I just want to thank you for letting a stooge be part of all of your lives. These events of the past week are only a microcosm of the people I’m talking about.

My parent’s party was amazing – Dad, you killed ‘500 miles’. It was awesome to see everyone there, but it was especially awesome to see both of you so happy. You created something great.

Brothers and Sister – thanks for doing everything for Mom and Dad’s while I’ve been away. You did great! Thanks for letting me steal a little of the credit! 🙂

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Dan and Nat – awesome party. I can’t thank you enough for having me, and I blame my antics on the lack of any social structure on the trail. Nat, you looked beautiful, and Dan – you looked somewhat decent, better than I would have thought I guess. Here’s a great article about the wedding, and some pics.

Meg and Bill – awesome baby. Can’t wait to see you guys when I get back. I’m going to come live with you for a few days, so just get ready. And I’m obviously inviting John as well.

Celli and Megan – I hope I ruin the dance floor at your wedding just as badly as I did at Nat and Dan’s.

Everyone – love you all with all my being. Can’t wait for many more years of simply living as part of your lives.

Trail Update #9 – An Unexpected Stop

So right now I am at my aunt and uncle’s house on the computer. A very unexpected stop, but a very welcome one. My Uncle Mark and cousin Taylor met me near Rockfish Gap yesterday and we went to a beautiful campground and did some bbq’ing. We had talked about meeting up somewhere along the trail, so it was a nice little break from the trail.

Unfortunately, the weather was again pretty terrible. So we were in the cold and rain for most of the day. Then Uncle Mark proposed returning to the Richmond area for the night. After some thought, I figured why not? I could get a good sleep, get out of the rain, and visit some family. So here I sit, getting some blog updating in (I updated plants and animals, Beard Chronicles, and added some pics to some earlier posts – check them out). And it appears the weather may actually be turning for the good. I’ll get back on the trail later this afternoon and pull a later hike into the night.

On the way to the house last night, we stopped at REI. A very necessary stop. Just in the past week or so, some of my gear has started to feel the wear and tear. My tent seams are leaking a little bit, so I got some sealant, and then there are my trekking poles. Sadly, I no longer have the same poles I began my journey with. About three days ago, I realized I lost one of the metal tips on a pole, resulting in much slipping and sliding. Not a huge deal, but something I would need to remedy. Then yesterday morning, I awoke only to find what I first thought was foliage on the handles of my trekking poles. However, after closer scrutiny, I realized the “foliage” was the remnants of the wrist straps. Some creature (likely mice) had devoured both wrist straps, nearly in entirety, throughout the night. Might not sound like a big deal, but a lot of your weight is transferred into the straps, so they are very necessary when hiking. So anyway, my trekking poles, in a matter of about 3 days, became a liability.

I went into REI and asked a guy if I could get some replacement straps and metal tips. To my surprise, he said no, and told me to instead just return them for a new pair. Honestly, I didn’t really want to do that – I feel like that’s taking advantage of their awesome policy. But he told me no, go ahead and do it – so I did it. It was kind of crazy, I gave them two delapadated, old trekking poles, and they gave me a pair of perfectly new ones. After being an “owner” of REI for about three or four years, that was the first item I ever returned. So good work REI – you guys did well. The only bad thing is I lost the sentimental value of my old trekking poles. But oh well, I still have over 1,000 miles to put some wear and tear into these new ones!

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Hoping for better weather in the week or so ahead! Next stop is Luray, Virginia!