I gave up my chance to finish triumphantly, as most NOBO thru-hikers do, with fists raised standing atop the sign at Mt. Katahdin’s summit. In exchange, I gained experiences I could never have expected in all the times I dreamed of how my hike would end.
I was able to keep hiking with Stick in the Woods, and I gained a new hiking partner, Tengo Hambre. These two men provided a constant reason to laugh each day. They were also good people to have on the trail to watch my back. Nothing bad happened on the trail in Maine, but if it had I knew I could trust them to come to my aid.
The other thing I gained when I decided to end my hike with 21.2 miles in the White Mountains was the opportunity to finish with my family. This was a finish I could not have scripted, even if I spent all of those years of planning for my hike focused only on this day.