That evening I texted my wife Kim to check in with her. We talked about how near I was getting to Mt. Katahdin and we started thinking about meeting at Baxter State Park when I reached it.
During our conversation she asked me about finishing the 21.2 miles I skipped in the White Mountains. I confessed to her I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. My answer surprised her.
I told Kim I was feeling worn down and missing her. I was ready to finish this hike.
Besides, I said, I wasn’t sure it was necessary to hike those miles to make my hike a complete thru-hike. The Appalachian Trail Conservancy doesn’t set rules for hiking past every single white blaze.
These words were intended to convince myself as much as to convince her. I should have known she would see through them.
Kim told me she recognized I was doing all of the hard work and she knew I was tired. But, she reminded me, this was her hike too. We had both invested years of dreaming and planning to make this hike possible. Now was not the time to end it. We both needed to see it though to the end.
She was right, of course. This was tough love I needed to hear.
She knew I would regret not making up those miles after summiting Mt. Katahdin. Maybe I wouldn’t regret my decision right away, but every time I looked back on it I would never be able to think of it as a complete thru-hike.
More to her point, though, I would be leaving a dream we shared unfulfilled.
Kim then added that she and our two sons would support me in any way I needed to make up the miles I missed.
I began my conversation with her feeling ready to end my hike as soon as possible. By the end, I was ready to climb any mountain standing in my way.
After 38 years of marriage, I should have known that would happen.