It is only noon and I’m already at the next shelter after hiking 10 miles. I should keep going, but I have decided to stop for the day. I miss my hiking partners, who I lost in the rain yesterday, so I decide to wait here for them.
I lay out gear to dry, sweep the floor in the shelter and organize everything in my pack.
Then I wait.
The news reaches me before they do.
“You’re Acorn? I have bad news for you. Your friends aren’t going to catch up today. Actually, they are never catching up. They left the AT today to hike the Grand Canyon instead.”
I quickly pack my gear and do the only thing I know how to do anymore: I hike north.
I don’t want to believe it. I linger at a stream, rest a little longer on a log and keep looking back.
I am searching for their voices. I am searching for the jingle of dog tags on Jake’s collar as he races to catch me.
I hear only silence.
It is so loud.
This wasn’t supposed to happen. I was supposed to hike alone and not get attached.. But how can you hike with someone for 5 weeks and not grow attached? We share everything on the trail: food, water, laughs, dreams, good times and bad times.
Also, thanks to all who have sent postcards, care packages, money and kind words.
It means the world to me.
I gotta run. The white blazes are calling my name.