At some point in the night I decided to fly to Santa Fe. Flights were ridiculously expensive, but it would be just as expensive to stay in Tahoe for an indeterminate amount of time. Even the cheapest campground in Tahoe is $35 per night. 

Two buses, a train, another bus, and two planes later, I arrived in Santa Fe. Home. 

I’ve been here for a week now. My knees are okay, still sore. I haven’t rested them as much as I should have, as it’s so easy to get caught up the whirlwind of summer activity. I’ve been to a couple of operas, we’ve been to our friend’s cabin in the Pecos. Dinner here and there, a short hike, errands, unpacking and settling into the house. 

It wasn’t until I got to Santa Fe that I realized the extent to which I had run out of money. I won’t go into the many little things that chipped away at my trip fund. Some of it was me not being careful when I went into towns and some of it was unexpected expenses that I couldn’t have foreseen or done much about.  More than hurt knees, running out of money is a hike-ending situation. 

I’ve been very emotional and doing my best to put on a brave face. I’m still trying to make sense of everything. This thing I have dreamed about for years and devoted all of my time and energy to for the past year just ended very abruptly. That the real reason it ended was ultimately my poor planning, my inability to save enough money to get the job done, is hard to accept and move on from. 

Everyone, far and wide, has been so supportive. I’ve received so many messages, texts, emails, phone calls from family, friends and strangers telling me what an accomplishment this is no matter what, that I’ve inspired them, that I can be proud and that they are proud for me. All of these words have meant so much to me. I hear all of you. I hear what you are telling me. I am taking it to heart as I process my thoughts and feelings about this experience. 

I’ve also heard that this doesn’t have to be over. I can go back next year or the next. I can section hike until I’m done. This isn’t a failure. 

All of this is true, too. Though, I don’t think I would attempt another through-hike at this point. The planning and working to save that I have done over the past year to make this happen took me away from home a lot. It was disruptive to our life in a way I can’t ask Hunter to go through again. But I can section hike and hope to finish the trail that way. We’ll see. But the dream was a through-hike, and that is probably not going to happen, as such. 

For now, I’m going to give myself a few days to be quiet, reflect, mourn, actually rest my knees, try to gain some perspective. Don’t worry, I won’t stay down for long. Who has time for that anymore? 

If there is one thing (and there are many) I can walk away from this experience knowing, it is that I am loved. This makes me a very rich person. So many of the people I met on the trail are out there because they are looking for what I already have- good friends, loving partnership, a happy home, work they love, a life they love. I have a beautiful life, and I am so grateful. 

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch and offered encouragement and support all along the way. Thanks for reading this blog. I have loved writing it every day. It made this journey that much more special to get to share it with so many people I love. I feel a little sad that I won’t have you all to talk to every day, but that I now get to see many of you in person will more than make up for that. 

I’ll try to post a follow up or two after I’ve had a little time to rest and reflect. Until then, you all have my love and gratitude. 

Today’s post was powered by chocolate-red-chili cake and the love of good friends.