Mile 1804


Misfit sat on the Dartmouth Campus Green. She watched all the muggles in their Sunday best gather on the other end of the park in preparation for the delayed 2020 class graduation ceremony. It was the first time in a while that she sat still. Most people were walking by, ignoring her, so she hadn’t noticed the kind, motherly woman’s approach. “Are you hiking?” She asked.

“Yes, ma’am, started in Georgia on April 5,” Misfit replied.

“Congratulations!” she said. “You haven’t much more to go. That’s quite the accomplishment.”

“Thank you. That’s very kind of you to say.”

“Enjoy the remainder of your journey. I’m off to see my daughter graduate.”

“Thank you again, and congratulations to you as well.”

That was when Misfit realized she was approaching the end of her journey. Less than 400 miles remained. However, despite what seemed like a short distance on paper, hiding in those miles was some of the most challenging terrain she had ever seen. She had some of the best mountain views waiting for her and didn’t want to rush past them. More accurately, she had more elevation ahead of her than behind her. Could she even continue at the pace she was moving?

As the morning slowly faded into the afternoon, FancyFeast eventually joined Misfit in Hanover. The two parked at the college’s all-you-can-eat food hall and began formulating a plan. FancyFeast was ahead of schedule and bought herself an additional week to finish her hike. Misfit, on the other hand, was on schedule for her finish. Unfortunately, the two had a summit target roughly ten days apart. That meant they wouldn’t finish together, but neither wanted to acknowledge that at the moment.

Instead, they planned to gently take on the next 100 miles not to wear themselves out, enjoy some of the most fantastic scenery the trail had to offer, and, most importantly, soak in their remaining days on the trail. They would not race through the green tunnel for the next few days at 18-20 miles per day. Instead, they would hike 10-15 miles per day. They would platinum blaze their way over the white mountains and gorge themselves on town food. They would forego shelters and pick fantastic campsites. The goal was to care for themselves as they approached their final days on the trail. They were stoked!

They sit at the south end of the White Mountains after hiking over Mount Mousilauke. The first few days of their plan were a total success! Misfit had not felt this well-rested since the initial weeks on the trail. Misfit was excited to hike each day and at what lay ahead. She was no longer clocking miles to meet a quota like hiking was a job; instead, she soaked in the beauty of the forest and the mountains surrounding her. She hiked leisurely along the path, observing the exciting things she normally breezed by at a lightning pace. The remaining 370 miles comprised twenty-two 4,000-foot peaks followed by 100 miles of total wilderness before the penultimate peak, Katahdin. However, for now, that was out of her mind. She was present at this moment. She was finally living the lesson that the AT had been trying to teach her all along; It’s the journey, not the destination.

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