Scoobie, Nasty Noodle, Low Branch and Boogie on top of the world!

Climbing Katahdin was surreal. We woke up at 2AM and hit the Trail shortly after. There were huge thunderstorms the night before but everything had cleared out by the time we started hiking. The sky was clear and a huge moon hung low in the sky. The climb itself was a blast. It is a challenging series of boulder climbs and rock scrambles leading you up to a flat area that looks like the moon before getting to the summit. Once we got above tree line, the views were stunning and we were hiking under crystal clear skies above the clouds. We timed it perfectly to watch the moon set and the sun rise. We each wanted to hike alone to be with our thoughts so we gave each other space to try to process the last four months and to think about what all this really meant. When I finally saw the famous Katahdin summit sign, it was pure joy. We were the only four people on top of the mountain and we cried, laughed, screamed and stood around saying “Wow.” We ceremonially ate our last tuna packets.

The descent off the mountain was as fun as going up and Bryan showed up shortly after I got back down to the campground. He had an incredible gift for me. He printed each of my blog entries and photographs and had them neatly organized in binders. I’m so excited to go through these when I get home. It will be a great chance to see the hike again with some perspective.

We all came on this journey for some pretty intense reasons and this was our chance to let it all sink in and set in place. For me, I came out here to work on some things in my life that I was stuck on. I wanted to understand why my father took his own life and to see if I could get my brother back in my life. These were tasks on my checklist. Things to be fixed. Surely, this Trail and these four months would sort these out for me.

I worked hard on these things. I journaled, read, talked with my therapist, listened to music and podcasts and made notes along the way. I got really angry that I wasn’t finding the solutions. I felt like I was wasting this opportunity. I was in the middle of Pennsylvania when something very different started to come together for me. I started to hear the same lesson from each of these teachers. Pema Chödrön sums it up perfectly for me. Pema is an American Buddhist monk that wrote When Thjngs Fall Apart. In her chapter on how to find healing, she wrote these amazing words.

“[T]he truth is that things don’t really get solved. They come together and they fall apart. Then they come together again and fall apart again. It’s just like that. The healing comes from letting there
be room for all of this to happen: room for grief, for relief, for misery, for joy.” I heard this for the first time listening to On Being and it literally stopped me in my tracks. I took my pack off, sat down and just felt so relieved. It sounded like such a radical idea to me. I’m a fixer. I mark things off checklists.

Maybe I can’t fix this stuff. Maybe it’s time to surrender this fight and let this journey itself be part of the healing. I downloaded her book that evening and read these lessons over and over. I started messing around with this new way of thinking. I can let life be messy and sad at times – I just need to give myself the time, space and room to let it happen. This was a big moment for me and I feel like I have a cool new toy to play with. The ultimate ultralight piece of gear for life.

This was also my lesson with the Trail itself. I tried over and over to beat it. I set time goals, new personal distance records, attacked climbs and chased the hours. But my happiest times on the Trail were when I surrendered to her. She was way bigger than me and when I finally realized that each day I felt at peace. I slowed down and looked for frogs or smelled the woods. For me, the lesson of this adventure wasn’t about conquering or fixing anything but learning to slow down and be present. That is what I want to take with me as I take this short break from long distance hiking.

I can’t thank each of you enough for all the kind words and support you have poured over me. You literally kept me going at times. I really struggled with whether I should continue during the pandemic but it turned out to be the right decision for me in the end. You all supported me in that and I am so grateful. I am also so grateful for the care packages and trail magic that you provided along the way. It was so special to stumble out of the woods and receive such kindness.

Bryan and I are going to enjoy a relaxing day in Portland and then I am going to visit some friends in Maine before heading back to the Trail to do some trail magic on my way home. I’m anxious to return that sweet kindness. I’ll be blogging that for sure. I’ll leave you for now with a video I made of our summit day.

12 thoughts on “Surrendered

  1. Drew, my heart is full after reading your blog post today! Love what you have learned and so happy you were able to open your heart and soul to surrendering. This is your true Trail Magic! Of course, these photos and video are amazing and wonderful! Thank you for letting us be a part of your journey and sharing so much of yourself with us over the last few months. Hope you and Bryan have a wonderful time in Portland! He is a really supportive and loving husband. Lots of hugs to you both from afar! Much to say, I am very proud of both of you for your last few months, respectively! Love you two! Betty

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Drew not only are you an amazing human being and writer but this journey helped you realize that by letting go and surrendering to your feelings you are finally at a place of peace in your life❤️I know you have many more adventures in your future and the tools to truly enjoy what ever happens!! Thank you for shRing🙏👍

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  2. Thank you Drew for letting us be part of your journey. Enjoyed every blog and every picture. Hope you and Bryan have a wonderful time in Maine. Love you both

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Drew, I’ve been binge reading your posts along the way, but I had to skip ahead to see this one. Congratulations to you on completing the journey on the trail and the journey in your thoughts. In case you hadn’t heard, Ryan is also in Maine (Camden area) to sequester for the summer. I hope to see you when you return!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Such a lovely, emotional and honest expression of your heart felt feelings. Facing and exploring unexplained sadness and tragic events takes courage, self examination and sharing. Reaching out to those who cherish us and listening to those who have sound, instructive and loving advise gives us strength to forge ahead. As we all know sometimes there are no answers, just acceptance. Your journey has been instructive and remarkable. Seems like you were ready to experience all that nature and solace had to teach you. As you frequently mentioned in your blog “the trail always provides. You were a excellent student. Take these valued lessons with you as you continue your exciting journey. Your photos and video are such a beautiful gift for all of your loyal followers. Thank you for sharing this rare experience. Enjoy your day. Love Bryan’s gift. So thoughtful.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Drew – I cannot find the words to express how I am feeling after reading today’s blog and reflecting on what you have body is filled with so much joy and admiration. I am also going to miss your blogs – as they have been incredible inspiration. I am concerned you may find re-entry a bit tough with how our world has turned upside down in such a short time…important to hold on to hope. Don’t hesitate to reach out to me anytime – we are all hunkered down in Suches for the indefinite future. with much love – xoxo, Julie

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  6. I am so glad you are finding that some situations are not for solving but must just be accepted as “the way it is now”. I am watching my mom slowly decline. I keep trying to “fix” her but try to keep remembering that this is just nature taking its course and we cannot change that. It’s best to realize that and enjoy today as it is. Loved the cover of the Brandi song in your video.


  7. Drew, it has been amazing to watch you along this journey. I am so overjoyed for you and what this experience has brought you. Now get home safe.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Congratulations Drew. You have completed a special endeavor. I hope you have found the clarity sought.

    Also, please come back to what society you want to be a part of slowly. Distancing is now in vogue and you have a new super power.

    Randy Ashley USATF Level 1 and 2 Endurance Coach c (828) 280-0439 ________________________________

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  9. Your post brought tears to my eyes and joy to my heart. Pema Chodron has great wisdom. The AT has given you a tremendous gift. So happy for you and so proud. ❤️❤️

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Reading this part of your blog made me feel much joy. You discovered so much kindness along the way and the trail gave you some big answers to some of your biggest Life questions. The things that weigh us down and keep us up at night can rob us of The joy that is meant for each of u. It seems that that the answer you found was a simple one. Not sure why those simple answers to our questions can be so difficult to find. I’m inspired that you kept looking until you found it. Such a powerful blessing! I Love you! As you complete this journey and remove the heavy pack you have been carrying you are also removing the heavy burdens you have been carrying at the same time. That’s the real trail magic❤️

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