I had always had confidence in myself and always thought I would finish, knowing that only something I couldn’t control would stop me.
Nearly 20 years of dreaming, planning, training and testing gear had gone into this hike. I had completed more than 80 percent of it, yet now I was ready to quit. I told Stick that as soon as we reached Pinkham Notch I was going to hitch a ride to Gorham, then find my way back home to Tennessee.
As soon as I uttered those words, I knew they didn’t sound right. They felt as you feel when you're driving a car and make a turn onto a different street, then immediately realize you’re going the wrong way.
In that moment I realized I didn’t want my hike to end. I couldn’t let it end.
Yes, I was having a hard time controlling the swelling in my right ankle. It was not stable and I was overcompensating for it.
Yes, I was tired, feeling worn down and beat.
But no, this was not time to stop. This was a situation I thought was out of control, but I could control it. I didn’t have to quit. I needed to see this hike through to the end.
This was an unexpectedly empowering feeling.
Stick and I had expected the climb tomorrow over Mt. Madison was going to be difficult, so we knew we wouldn’t reach Pinkham Notch until the next day. From there, the trail makes several difficult climbs over rugged mountains. It should take two more days to reach Rattle River Hostel, which is just off the trail near Gorham.
I told Stick I had a change in plans. When we reach Pinkham Notch, I want to get a ride directly to the hostel and skip the section that goes over the Wildcat and Carter mountains. If I am successful in repairing myself there, I can continue on with him when he reaches the hostel.
Stick was supportive of my plan, even though it meant he would have to go alone over some of the most difficult trail in the White Mountains.