North - Day 0

On the Helon Taylor trail at 6:10 a.m., I carried 35 pounds excess weight on my body and in my pack. Reaching Pamola Peak in 4 hours, and falling behind schedule, I experienced shortness of breath. Sore legs and a body tired to the bone. Dizziness. I conceded defeat at 10:30 a.m., a mile short of my intended starting point on Mount Katahdin. A young Polish couple would have helped get my pack up the technical climbing section on the Chimney, just a stone’s throw away, but I wasn’t feeling well enough to cross the Knife Edge. “Go home,” the trail told me. I stumbled 3½ hours back down the mountain, and started walking on the sandy access road. The same luck, which frustrated my climb earlier in the day, now propelled me home to Massachusetts. To Tricia’s astonishment, I walked in the door at 10:00 o’clock that night.



4. Racing for Life

The loss of my health, the loss of Tricia’s mother, the bad planning, the bad diet, the failed first day of hiking, the two weeks of illness, and logistical frustrations on the trail, all contribute to sadness about this leg of the journey.

Perhaps the mistakes could have been prevented, but nothing could change the downstroke of the cycle. Adversities had to run their course, forcing new adaptations and different ways of thinking upon me.

Stubbornly refusing to quit, I returned to the trail, encountering remarkable people, animals, and a mountain spirit along the way. Yet the experience felt like a losing effort. Upon completing my northern journey, I felt relief, not joy.

The flame of the “idea” had gone out. My enthusiasm was spent. The costs and time committed to distance hiking mounted too high. Passion burned no more.

On the plus side, the experience planted seeds of renewal, for a life plan to live a healthy, productive 100 years. Surely, the time had come to get on with real life, at home and at work.