It was October 11, 2015, Day 182 of our Appalachian Trail hike, and we awoke to the sound of rippling water in a nearby stream. It was still dark outside on this chilly fall morning but the thought of finishing our hike today was more than enough to quicken the pace of packing up the tent and gear. We were only five miles away from completion.
Six months ago, the very thought of hiking 2,189.2 miles from Georgia to Maine was incomprehensible. How do two retired people who have never backpacked or climbed a mountain expect to undertake such an escapade? We didn’t know what to expect but set out step by step, mile by mile. Our first phase was hiking the A.T. northbound from Georgia to central Pennsylvania. At the end of July, we “flip-flopped” by flying up to Maine to the northern terminus of the Appalachian Trail and then hiked the remainder of the trail southbound. The more we hiked, the better our bodies adapted to the trail. Our finish line was at Bethel, PA Route 501, anticlimactic for most, but for us the location wasn’t as important as the approaching achievement.
By now the reality of leaving the woods and the spectacular mountain views and returning to society was setting in. We have come to enjoy the tranquility and simplicity of the daily hike. Trail life was uncomplicated. We hiked. We ate. We slept. Not much else. So what would “normal life” look like for us when we returned home to Ohio?
If you have followed this blog, you know that we have on occasion shared devotions from the Jesus Calling app that have spoken to us. A recent devotion was quite pertinent and read, “Be willing to follow wherever I lead. Follow Me wholeheartedly, with glad anticipation quickening your pace. Though you don’t know what lies ahead, I know; and that is enough…Sometimes I lead you up a high mountain with only My hand to support you. The higher you climb, the more spectacular the view becomes; also, the more keenly you sense your separation from the world with all its problems. This frees you to experience exuberantly the joyous reality of My Presence… I will eventually lead you down the mountain, back into community with others. Let My Light continue to shine within you as you walk among people again.”
We believe that God has given to us this wonderful hiking adventure for personal growth and to share His glory, but also to raise funds for our dear friend, John Gurney, who is battling cancer. Many of you have already fulfilled a “pennies per mile” pledge and sent a donation to the Gurney family for John’s out-of-pocket medical expenses. Your gift is greatly appreciated!
We are currently preparing to head home for some rest and recuperation. Whatever is in store for us next, we hope to always be…
Shining God’s Light, Chief and Toad