Yesterday was both a long and incredibly challenging day. My morning started off fine as I continued north on Route 94 towards Carlisle. Then in the early afternoon, snow flurries began to fall. I had become somewhat accustomed to the cold and precipitation rarely bothered me, but the snow flurries gradually gave way to a heavy, wet, and constant snowfall.
As I continued along Route 94, the landscape changed to a rural area comprising of farms and orchards. Additionally, this route traversed up and down the Appalachian Mountains. At one point I even crossed the Appalachian Trail. The sky became dark due to the stormy clouds and the temperature continued to drop.
I continued to walk and the weather continued to deteriorate. The challenge was navigating up and down the peaks and valleys of the mountains. At each mountain peak I’d search, hoping to find shelter or even just a warm place to rest for a few minutes. Yet with each peak I was greeted with disappointment. As if to add insult to injury, large trucks would frequently rumble past me, sending a rushing wind and spatters of slush from the road into my face.
As I was going through those peaks and valleys, it seemed to me that every mountain became harder to conquer. I couldn’t rest and the weather didn’t improve. For the first time since starting the Trail, I had that kind of moment where you start thinking about giving up and wishing you were already at your final destination. Of course in my mind and in my heart, I knew giving up was not an option. I just continued to walk, motivated by the glimmer of hope that upon reaching the top of each peak, I’d eventually find the comforting light of a shelter.
It was a challenge, both emotionally, physically and even to some extent, philosophically. After almost 30 miles of rigid conditions, I finally found a motel in the distance! I was overjoyed at reaching this place of rest. However, I was also beyond exhausted. As soon as I walked into my room, I didn’t feel like doing anything. I was hungry but I didn’t have the strength or energy to get up and get something to eat. I just crashed onto my bed and tried to sleep. Unfortunately, my feet were in such pain, sleep was not easy. Even my excitement to explore Carlisle the following day couldn’t encourage me to sleep.