Contest #181 winner 🏆

Out of Place on the Appalachian Trail

Submitted into Contest #181 in response to: Write about a character who’s climbing a mountain, whether internal, external, or both.... view prompt

299 comments

Adventure Contemporary American

My backpack weighs 31 pounds, and it barely fit into the trunk of Jen and Steve’s Honda. I don’t think they believed I was actually going through with this until I called and asked for a ride up the mountain. Jen gave me that look, that pitying, tight-lipped smile, but she helped Steve and I load up my things, and then they bought me lunch before dropping me off at the trailhead. Jen cried, and Steve gave me a can of pepper spray and an awkward side hug.

So here goes nothing. I’m at Springer Mountain, Georgia, with zero miles down and only 2,190 miles to go.

See you on the other side.  

Mile 8

I can feel my heartbeat in my feet, but I made it to the first campsite. I’m exhausted, but in that good I-did-a-hard-thing kind of way. I had trouble setting up my tent—broke a nail just getting it out of the bag—but there was another group at the campsite and some nice college kid saw me struggling, jogged over to help, and then had the whole thing up in under a minute. He looked at me funny, and I’m sure he was wondering what I was doing all the way out here instead of lounging on my sofa with a glass of chardonnay and an Oprah’s book club novel, but he didn’t pry.

Mile 19

Well, I pooped in the woods today. You would have laughed at me as I hunted for the perfect spot, then deposited and buried my own waste like some dainty, purebred housecat.

I laughed at myself too.

Mile 49

I’m already behind schedule. I wasted hours repacking my bag yesterday to redistribute the weight, as one hiker told me it would be less strain on my back to move the heavier items to the center. So I took everything out and repacked it as tightly as I could, which took forever. The hiker hovered nearby the entire time, obnoxiously commentating on all my belongings, and when he finally left, I sat down to write, only to find I’d somehow buried my journal. So, I unpacked my whole bag again, rummaging through my gear like a madwoman, just to then see the journal had been sitting on a rock next to me the whole time.

Even in the cold spring air, I was red-faced and sweating.

Mile 65

My feet are killing me, but I think I’ve finally broken in these fresh-out-of-the-box hiking boots.

I fell asleep last night listening to the crickets and thinking about you.

Mile 87

I met an interesting hiker today who said this was his second thru hike. He looked at least 10 years older than me and called himself “Pinetree.” All skin and bones with a long scraggly beard, he looked like a castaway stranded in the woods, though I got the sense he liked the solitude. He’d jutted out his bearded chin at me and said, “Nobo?”

“What?” I huffed out.

“North bound?”

North bound? Oh. Yes. I am.” I had to pause and catch my breath after each sentence. “Just getting started.”

He looked me over and clicked his tongue. “You’re carrying too much weight.”

I was momentarily offended before realizing he meant my pack. “How?! I left so much behind. I need all of this.”

He was quiet, chewing his lip. “Give it a few more miles. You won’t feel that way then.”

We continued walking; his stride was twice that of mine, but he slowed and matched my speed, and we hiked in companionable silence until I stopped for lunch.

He kept walking. “When you’re ready to let some of that go, you’ll feel much lighter. Trust me.” Then with a final, “take care out there,” he disappeared around the next bend.

His reprimand irritated me, but the frustration kept me going for a good four or five more miles.

I envied him: so confident and free.

He reminded me of you.

Mile 112

I pulled eight ticks off my legs yesterday. There were probably more where I couldn’t see them, and that thought kept me awake all night, tossing and turning and twitching in my tent until the exhaustion pulled me into fitful sleep. I dreamt that my hiking boots jumped off a cliff, and I had to walk the rest of the trail with my feet covered in orange plastic ramen noodle wrappers.

Mile 148

I met some thru hikers from South Dakota (which I had completely forgotten was a state) who were both in their 80’s! We talked the whole way, and it helped the miles pass quickly.

They told me the secret to longevity is to never stop moving.

Mile 162

I’ve been making better time; today was my record so far—14 miles. A rather uneventful 14 miles, though I did see a porcupine, which was interesting. I always thought they’d be…spikier…?  

At the shelter, I removed three shirts, a book, and a tube of lotion from my backpack and left them in a giveaway box. It made a surprisingly noticeable difference.

Mile 169

Well, those 14 miles about killed me. I slept late today, then took two ibuprofen before even getting out of my tent. My back hurt, my feet hurt—even my earlobes hurt.

The last thing I wanted to do was put those boots back on my swollen feet and walk.

Mile 202

Regret tastes sour and so do the dry ridges of my dehydrated gums.

What am I even doing out here?

Mile 327

I hiked 18 miles yesterday but took today off. I needed to replenish my food, as I guess there’s going to be a good stretch before I reach another town (I’m still learning how to read maps and plan ahead). I bought groceries and some new clothes, as my pants are starting to hang on me, then checked into a motel and took the first real shower I’ve had since leaving Georgia. I stood there until the water ran cold, then laid down on the sheets and passed out until my grumbling stomach woke me up. I ordered a large pepperoni pizza and ate the entire thing myself.

Then I called the pizza place back and ordered another one.

Mile 463

Made it into Virginia. It’s been raining for three days. The trails are slush, my boots are filthy, and I feel like a wet rag.

I want to go home.

Mile 567

I made a small group of friends who have sort of pulled me into their circle and let me tag along the last 50 miles or so. Melons is a vet tech from Florida, whose cleavage makes introductions before she does. Huckleberry is a lanky 22-year-old who wears his pants rolled at the ankles and hikes in crocs. Seems impractical to me, but he says it’s comfortable. Aunt Jemima is a hulking middle-aged Norwegian man who loves breakfast food and lugs around a flat top campfire griddle. He’s made us pancakes almost every morning, and it’s become one of my favorite parts of each day. Easily the largest man I’ve ever met, Aunt Jemima often smacks his head on low hanging branches as we hike, eliciting a string of game-like sound effects from Huckleberry like “doink” and “boing.”

Their company has changed everything, and I’ve laughed more in the last few days than I have in years.

Mile 653

Today was HARD. The terrain was rugged and uneven. I made a game, tracking how many hours ago I could go without tripping.

I never actually made it a whole hour.

Mile 713

Melons, Huckleberry, and Aunt Jemima decided to take a detour; Huckleberry’s family lives nearby and invited everyone to stay for a few days, but I wanted to keep going.

We all exchanged contact information, then parted ways.

Mile 806

You don’t feel the blisters until you stop.

Mile 878

I’m tired of hearing my own breathing, tired of TREES, tired of freeze-dried soup, tired of having nothing but time to think about everything I should have done differently in my life.

I don’t know who I thought I was, why I ever thought I could do this.

Mile 900

I almost quit yesterday, and then I met an angel.  

I was 7 miles into the day, feeling like there was no possible way I could make it to the next shelter, nevertheless all the way to the tip of Maine, when I walked straight into a spider web, tripped over a rock, then faceplanted in a patch of ferns. I was so angry, I hurled my backpack against a tree, pulling a back muscle in the process. Then I sat down and just sobbed.

Everything hurt; I was sunburned, hungry, and ready to call it quits and admit to the world that I couldn’t do it.

Then the next thing I knew, I was on my back, staring up at the floppy, wet tongue of a gigantic Great Dane. I struggled to sit up, and when I did, it nuzzled its massive head into my shoulder, and without thinking, I draped my arms over its neck. I realized then it was the closest thing I’d had to an embrace since Steve’s stiff-armed goodbye hug.

Shortly after, I heard someone whistling and calling for “Karen,” then saw a gray-haired woman heading down the trail. She took one look at me—at my pack thrown into the ferns, my scraped-up knees, and her dog (which was indeed named Karen) with its head on my shoulder—then looked me right in the eye and asked if I liked lasagna.

She introduced herself as “Zippy” as we walked a side trail up to her place. I could smell oregano before I saw the cabin. She’d made two bubbling-hot pans of the best lasagna I’d ever had and never asked if I wanted seconds of anything, but just continued to load food onto my plate the second I’d cleared it.

After dinner, we sat on her couch and talked about the hike—the solitude, the friendships you make, and the boredom too. I’d gone a few days without really talking to anyone and when she asked why I was doing it, it was like a dam broke within me, and I cried—ugly, shaking sobs that rattled our teacups on the side table. She let me cry, let me talk.

I told her that hiking the AT was never my dream, that I never wanted to put my life on pause to traipse up and down mountains and live out of a backpack for half a year.

Then I told her about you—how this was always your dream, your adventure, how you begged me to hike it with you…bought me my own gear and everything…because I had told you I would.

Then I told her how every time you brought up the hike, I shut you down—put you off with a “maybe next spring,” and “things are so busy with work right now,” or “how about when we retire.”

How naïve I was to think time would wait for us; sometimes hearts stop beating, and they never start up again.

I know I can’t blame myself for that, but I blame myself for giving you the false hope that I’d join you when I never had any intention of looping my arms through that purple backpack you hung in the garage next to yours. You waited for me, and now it’s too late for you. We should have been doing this together, and now you’ll never have the chance.

This hike has been hard—the hardest thing I’ve ever done in my life, but you would have loved every minute of it. And I would have loved to do this with you.

I felt lighter the next day than I had the whole trip. Even with a belly full of lasagna.

Mile 989

How am I STILL in Virginia?

I left a multitool, some too-big hiking shorts, and an extra flashlight in a shelter box.

Mile 1057

This muggy dog-breath summer air is making my skin crawl…

I dropped the gasket of my water filter in a creek today and stood staring into the brown trickle for several minutes trying to find the thing before I realized I was standing about a foot away from a coiled-up copperhead. My blood turned to ice—a momentary reprieve from the suffocating heat—and then I spun myself away from the thing with the agility of a woman 20 years younger.

So, I didn’t get bitten by a snake, but I never did find that gasket.

Mile 1132

You wouldn’t believe who I ran into today: Melons, Huckleberry, and Aunt Jemima.

I must be that slow of a hiker.

Melons gave me a big hug, squished me right in between her giant bosom. Huckleberry was wearing real boots—said he’d lost his crocs in a river and had to walk a mile and a half in socks before he could buy new shoes. Someone made Aunt Jemima an apron with a picture of a giant backpacker flipping pancakes. He said he wears it every morning.

Mile 1281

Almost through Pennsylvania.

I know I’ve complained a lot, but today was one of those days where all the blood, sweat, and tears felt like they were worth something. I woke up before sunrise, made hot coffee, and climbed to an overlook where the valley stretched below, still shrouded in shadow. I watched the sun rise and shed light on each curve and dip of the land. Birds chirped all around me, leaves danced in the breeze, and I felt you there with me.

For the first time, I couldn’t wait to get moving.

Mile 1359

Did I tell you I’ve been given a trail name?

Scribe.

Mile 1422

We’ve made it to New York! Melons and I hitchhiked into town today and got pedicures, mostly just to see the looks on the beautician’s faces when they saw our feet (that and I was dying for a foot massage). I picked out some bright red nail polish and sunk down into a massage chair, but when I peeled my socks away, my left pinky toenail came clean off and landed right in the sudsy water.

I didn’t feel a thing.

The poor lady painted the nail-less stub of my toe anyway, and now you can hardly tell anything is missing.

Mile 1614

The terrain has been fairly steep the past few days but absolutely gorgeous. We’ve made it into Vermont, and the gang and I stopped for a much-deserved night at a motel. The motel served scrambled eggs at the continental breakfast the next morning, and between the four of us, we must have eaten two dozen eggs. Aunt Jemima wasn’t impressed with their pancakes, but he still ate enough for a football team.

Mile 1736

I’ve made it to New Hampshire. From Georgia. WITH MY OWN TWO FEET. I can hardly believe it. There have been so many days when I’ve wanted nothing more than to give up and go home, but now that I’m getting close to the end, I’m almost afraid. What happens when it’s over?

Mile 1901

I beat my own record and walked 24 miles today. Every muscle in my body is screaming, and I barely have the energy to hold up this pen, but I just had to say one thing: I’m sorry.

I’m sorry you never got to see what I’ve seen or walk where I’ve walked, but I hope you know that I have carried you with me every step of the way. I know it doesn’t change anything, but wherever you are, I hope you know that you are what has pushed me through these mountains.

Mile 2032

We’re in Maine! We celebrated crossing into the last state with way too much beer, and Huckleberry, in his inebriated condition, forgot to pack up his food. Well wouldn’t you know, around 1 in the morning, I started hearing this huffing and rustling, and I thought maybe it was Huckleberry getting sick, so I ran out of my tent to check on him and came nose to nose with the ugliest black bear I’ve ever seen. It was missing one ear and had a ragged scar across his eye.

I froze, panicking—what was I supposed to do again? Run? Play dead? Scream? I just knew I was about to be mauled to death, when suddenly Aunt Jemima stepped down from the shelter, walked up to that bear with his chest puffed out, and started yodeling. Yes. Yodeling. Deep, reverberating, melodic howls. I’d never heard anything like it in my life, and that bear must have thoroughly hated it, because it took off.

I slept like a rock knowing that ugly bear was off telling all his friends about the terrible yodeling monster I call Aunt Jemima.

Mile 2178

Tomorrow, we hike Mount Katahdin—the last leg of the Appalachian trail!!

Mile 2191

It was a grueling trek up 4,000 feet of rocky elevation, but I made it.

I MADE IT!!

There’s a picture of me, Melons, Huckleberry, and Aunt Jemima, our arms outstretched at the big wooden “Mount Katahdin” sign, and I’ve never seen such a wide smile on my face.

I looked confident—free.

The four of us lingered at the top for a while, reveling in our victory, then the others left me alone:

So you and I could have a few moments to ourselves.

And that’s when I set you free.

I lifted the cap on the small, cylindrical urn I’d carried with me through sunshine and rain for the past 2000 miles, and I sprinkled your ashes into the wind. You spread your wings and flew over the mountain, settling yourself in the rocks and rivers and valleys of beautiful, wild Maine.

We’re thru hikers now, you and me.

And I couldn’t have done it without you.

January 20, 2023 16:06

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299 comments

Justin Hyatt
17:17 Feb 07, 2023

First, bravo! Incredible story that pulls on the heart strings and reminds us of what's important in life. Second, I just wanted to share that I'm a Young Adult educator (helping young people get their GEDs), and I shared this story as a Group Read with my class. They absolutely LOVED it in all its entirety, and if you've ever worked with young people, it is difficult to keep their attention. Thank you for sharing this with us, and I can't wait to read more of your incredible writing.

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Aeris Walker
01:26 Feb 10, 2023

Justin, Your comment *completely* made my day. Thank you so much for taking to the time to read, to SHARE with your class, and leave your kind comment. It truly means a lot. I don’t know how to talk to high schoolers anymore, so I’m glad to hear your class enjoyed it ☺️☺️

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Carla Ward
05:17 Feb 05, 2023

I was crying at the end, but it was a good cry. The AT has always been a fantasy of mine. When my kids were young I was an assistant scoutmaster for their Boy Scout troop and loved the outdoors. We often hiked and camped on portions of the AT. In Virginia, of all things, LOL. I used to tell the boys we'd hike the AT when I turned 60, but here I am years past that, overweight and sometimes struggling to cover 3 miles before the plantar fasciitis and bunions start barking. Maybe when I'm in my 70s? But still the fantasy lives. You've t...

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Aeris Walker
01:20 Feb 10, 2023

Carla, it sounds like you still have some incredible stories to tell! We just got our 5 year old into a local troop and have already seen how much he’s come to love the outdoors/camping. Even if I never do the whole thing, I hope to at least cover sections of it someday, and maybe as a family. I genuinely appreciate you taking the time to read and share your comment. ☺️

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Carla Ward
22:26 May 16, 2023

I'm only just now reading your reply. Camping with my kids was always an adventure. Not just the Scout trips, but the times with the family, when I was able to get my very resistant daughter to tag along. She was always convinced that sleeping outside would lead to us being murdered in our tents, even in a KOA campground, LOL. You've done the right thing getting your son to love the outdoors. He'll find comfort in long walks through the woods long after he's grown, because they will become associated with childhood happy times. Some day ...

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Amanda Lieser
01:54 Feb 03, 2023

Hi Aeris! Congratulations! And this is such a well-deserved win! I loved the way the story was written. The format was brilliant. One of my favorite lines came right at the beginning: Even in the cold spring air, I was red-faced and sweating. It felt so very vivid to me. I think that entry for mile 806 was a very close second, though. I also really loved this person’s nickname. It was such a great ode to all of us writers. Nice job!

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Aeris Walker
13:15 Feb 06, 2023

Hey Amanda! Thank you so much for reading. Yes, I’m so glad you caught the significance of the trail name-I know it was kind of a small detail thrown in with everything else. Thanks again 😊😊

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Karin Cavanagh
11:01 Jan 29, 2023

What a wonderful story. I love how you recorded events by the mile and not just by the day as many diaries do. Being an Australian, I am unfamiliar with the territory, but you painted the picture very well, I particularly liked "tracking how many hours ago I could go without tripping. I never actually made it a whole hour." It illustrates not only the terrain but how exhausted she was. I am not a hiker (a wannabe perhaps) but the way you have written this gives me the impression you have first-hand experience with long hikes. You highlight...

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Aeris Walker
13:08 Feb 06, 2023

Sorry for the belated response, but thank you so very much, Karin, for reading and leaving your sweet comment!

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Rama Shaar
05:11 Jan 29, 2023

Absolutely brilliant, Aeris! Not much more I can say that hasn't been said. You have such an engrossing style that even the slowest, most unfocused reader can't stop reading! Well done.

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Aeris Walker
14:13 Feb 01, 2023

Hey Rama! Thank you, I really appreciate that 🙂

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Jamie Gregory
16:10 Jan 28, 2023

This was such a beautiful story and a well deserved win! I love the transformation of the MC along this journey and the quirky characters she met. The ending was just breathtaking. Well done!

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Aeris Walker
12:59 Jan 29, 2023

Thank you so much, Jamie! ☺️

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Philip Ebuluofor
08:06 Jan 28, 2023

Aunty Jemima, a bulky fellow. Congrats on the win.

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Aeris Walker
12:59 Jan 29, 2023

Thanks so much, Philip!

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Philip Ebuluofor
07:30 Jan 30, 2023

Welcome.

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06:41 Jan 28, 2023

As a trail runner, I relate to so much of this story! (Esp the oddness of not having any pain when a toenail falls off.) So many fun details and characters in a short story, this is great writing. Happy you won. I think my favorite parts were when the reason was her trip was revealed, and watching her have fun the obvoiusly good natured Melons, Huckleberry and Aunt Jemima. Congrats!

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Aeris Walker
12:58 Jan 29, 2023

I think I knew you were a runner, but I didn’t know you did trail running! That’s on a whole other level. Thanks so much for reading, Scott, I really appreciate it.

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David Sweet
18:29 Jan 27, 2023

Wonderful read, well done! You were able to do so much with the limited 3,000-word format. Congrats on the win! This reminds me of "AWOL on the Appalachian Trail" by David Miller. This is an adventure I've always wanted to do, but not sure I would be up for it because it is so grueling as your story attests. Thanks for sharing. I will now look forward to reading some of your other works as well.

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Aeris Walker
12:34 Jan 28, 2023

Hi David! I remember reading your winning story a while back. Historical fiction is one of my favorite genres to read/write in. I’ve not read that, but I enjoyed reading hikers’ blogs and hearing their stories. My kids are too little to leave for that long, but I’d love to do the whole AT someday. Thanks, David!

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Story Time
17:57 Jan 27, 2023

Congratulations Aeris! I'll be by with chocolate!

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Aeris Walker
22:39 Jan 27, 2023

🍫🍫🍫 Thanks Kevin 😉

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Michelle England
17:49 Jan 27, 2023

This story made me want to do this hike, just so I can meet people like your characters. I read this while sitting pool side at my gym and got some odd looks, because there were a couple parts of your story that made me teary eyed. I love this!

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Aeris Walker
12:27 Jan 28, 2023

Aw, well I’m so glad you liked it! Thanks for reading, Michelle ☺️

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Daniel Allen
16:30 Jan 27, 2023

I really enjoyed this, Aeris. Your descriptions of the trail were smooth and immersive, which, given the geographical scope of this story, is really impressive. I also liked the protagonist's development throughout the story, from frightened 'noob' all the way to pro. This is a great story that fits the 'external and internal' aspects of this prompt perfectly. Well done!

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Daniel Allen
17:11 Jan 27, 2023

And also, congratulations!!! Well deserved!

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Aeris Walker
22:40 Jan 27, 2023

Thank you so much, Daniel! Yes that’s exactly what I was going for—touching on that internal as well as external “climb.” Looking forward to getting to your story this week! You know I love some historical fiction.

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Jim Firth
11:23 Jan 21, 2023

Oh, this is right up my street, Aeris! I recently read someone's PCT blog and you captured everything so well here; the trail names, the trail angels providing trail magic, the camaraderie, the humour, and you added in a very poignant motive for the thru-hike. I CLUNG to the funny parts, because I could sense that the 'you' in the story was a lost loved one! 'I dreamt that my hiking boots jumped off a cliff, and I had to walk the rest of the trail with my feet covered in orange plastic ramen noodle wrappers.' --still laughing from this.

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Aeris Walker
13:16 Jan 22, 2023

I also really enjoy reading/watching peoples’ trail stories. It’s amazing what they accomplish all on foot— though I can’t imagine hiking the PCT—straight up DESERT for the first hundreds of miles. It’s so funny you pulled that line out: I channeled my own inner “humorist” and totally thought of you and your writing when typing that lol! Thanks for reading, Jim—always much appreciated 😊

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Jim Firth
14:01 Jan 22, 2023

Channelling your inner humorist, eh? Very nice! Straight up desert for 100 miles is a lot different than straight up dessert for 100 miles (Insert joke about calories/hiking here). Doing the PCT is a dream of mine, and I love to nerd out about that kind of stuff, but it does seem very, very tough! I used to maintain footpaths as a ranger in the Yorkshire Dales and we had a few long distance routes, but nothing on the scale that you have in 'Murica. I was going to attempt a similar story (but about the PCT) at some point, but I'm bowing out, ...

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Aeris Walker
16:29 Jan 22, 2023

100 miles of cake and icecream...how terrible...*buys new hiking boots*...who would ever do such a thing...*loosens belt buckle* LOL. A Yorkshire Dales ranger? What a cool job! From the pics I googled, the land looks so beautiful. I've only done very short day hikes along parts of the AT that are in my state, and the terrain is mostly forested, but it's gorgeous and really pleasant. I'd love to do the whole thing some day. You can have the desert ;)

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Jim Firth
17:16 Jan 27, 2023

Coming back here to say congratulations on the win! 👏 😁 BOOYAH. You deserve it!

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Aeris Walker
19:13 Jan 27, 2023

You’re the best, Jim!! Thank you ☺️

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Suma Jayachandar
06:40 Jan 21, 2023

Aeris, What a magnificent hike! The strong undercurrent of emotions apart, what I found truly astounding was the DETAILS- simply breathtaking! Thanks for sharing this journey.

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Aeris Walker
12:36 Jan 21, 2023

Thank you so much, Suma! There was plenty of material to pull from blogs, state park websites, YouTube videos, and my own little bits of hiking experience. Thank you for reading ☺️☺️ ** and congrats on your recent shortlist!!**

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Suma Jayachandar
13:44 Jan 21, 2023

Thanks 😊

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Michał Przywara
21:38 Jan 20, 2023

That's a heck of a commitment! Great use of the prompt though. Naturally, the wise-but-irritating mysterious old man ended up being right: it's easier going when you're not carrying so much. She first leaves some of her belongings behind, and then unburdens herself further with Zippy. It was regret that was her biggest challenge. Regret they couldn't do this together, that she kept putting it off when they had the chance. A very believable kind of character growth, as evidenced by her wild smile at the end :) I like how the days are up...

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Aeris Walker
04:06 Jan 22, 2023

Michal, I see our brains were sort of hovering around similar themes and ideas for this week’s prompt! Old wise man, exhausting hike, too-heavy pack, wild dreams haha. Thanks for taking the time to read, I always value your feedback!

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Michał Przywara
22:04 Jan 27, 2023

Woo! Congrats on the win! :D

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Aeris Walker
22:37 Jan 27, 2023

Thanks, Michal 🙂

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Lily Finch
19:50 Jan 20, 2023

Aeris, I surmised early on in the writing/journalling that the MC was addressing a spouse. Such a loving memorial and tribute to a deceased spouse whose dream was to hike the trail through. The love of the MC, and perhaps guilt, are powerful motivators. Well done. LF6

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Aeris Walker
20:05 Jan 20, 2023

Hey Lily! I am glad that was clear relatively early on, as I was worried it was too obscure. Thank you so much for reading! I look forward to having a chance to catch up on all of my Reedsy reading and head over to some of your stories! ☺️

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Lily Finch
20:20 Jan 20, 2023

Yeah. You did an awesome job! :)

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10:57 Nov 29, 2023

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Luis Felipe
16:16 Nov 28, 2023

I logged just to say: I crying. Seriously, I can't say pretty words to tell you that this is beautifully written. But I'm crying as a little child. Thank you for writing this.

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Aeris Walker
18:52 Nov 29, 2023

Luis, that means the world!! Thank you :)

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N W
08:01 Nov 18, 2023

First online short story I ever have read in my whole life and absolutely loved it with tear jerks. Your perseverance through 2k miles journey in AT, why you did so, was remarkable; will remain empowered many of us deeply in our hearts. Thanks for sharing your moments and your experience.

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J. Ouyang
18:39 Aug 11, 2023

hi aeris - i loved everything about this story! the journal format was unique, the character development was brilliant, and the ending was the perfect closure for the protgonist and the readers! you totally deserved this win! the message of your story is something that i will remember to keep in mind - life is too short for regrets!

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Aeris Walker
19:47 Aug 11, 2023

This story was one of my favorites to research/write. It took me the whole week to really get it right—the emotions, the character growth, and the timing of when to reveal certain information. I’m so glad the underlying message had an impact on you. Thanks so much for reading and commenting!

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