5/26 mile 513.6 The journey ends

Although it looked threatening and I put up my tent, no rain fell. I got up at 5 AM

It was 21 miles to Cuba NM. I had been doing 21 miles for the past few days to insure on my last day I’d get to Cuba today. My water stop was in 6.6 miles – piece of cake. I was on trail hiking at 6 AM. That’s a little late, but today I sat and ate my Clif Bar and Granola Bar while enjoying my MIO Energy (with caffeine). I thought that should give me a little energy boost and brighten my spirit.

As I typically do I calculate the time it takes to complete some mileage using 25 minutes/mile. My water stop should be in 2 hours and 45 minutes or 8:45 AM. So off I went. I can do this.

The trail goes from mesa to mesa. Between them you typically hike down to a saddle and back up to the next. I thought I was making good progress, but I wasn’t. My thoughts kept drifting to quitting. I was pushing to get to the water yet it wasn’t necessary. I had already decided to end my hike so why was I pushing. Then I kept thinking about all the miles after the water stop that would take me hours and hours. I realized I was done, kaput. It was the end. I just couldn’t push any more. Maybe I could get to a road and hitch into Cuba. I had hit my wall.

At 9:15 AM I finally got to the spring. I filtered one bottle, added Crystal Light Lemonade flavoring, shook it and chugged it down. Bliss. Then two guys wander into the spring. I say hi, but they don’t look like hikers. They have small backpacks and are carrying shovels and other tools. I come to learn they are the trail maintenance crew for this section and they have come to work on the heavily-silted spring’s trough. Hmmm, that means they’ve driven here and their truck is nearby. I ask if I can catch a ride to Cuba and they say sure after they do their work here and some more trail work somewhere else.

Then I realize that this is how my adventure will end. Today will be my last hiking day. Right here I can relax. I am done. It is officially over.

Over the next two hours I try to help them shovel muck, silt, sand, and make the spring’s trough good for hikers for another 10 years. Their names are Charlie and David. Around lunch time we are done so we pack up and leave. At the truck Charlie says he’ll drive me to Cuba while David stays behind to eat his lunch. The truck is small and the cab fits only two people. So off we go and Charlie drive me into Cuba, drops me at a motel, and heads off.

I am sad, but the pressure is off to make those daily big miles. I contact my friends and family to tell them where I am. As I do it hits me. I miss those special people who have helped me in this journey. I need them so much. My voice breaks and a tear forms. It really is over. All the months to prepare. All the gear I bought. All the energy expended to get to the start. And most of all my long distance hiking is over. The end of a part of my life.

13 thoughts on “5/26 mile 513.6 The journey ends”

  1. Tartan, I know it must really hurt to call it quits. However you are making the right decision and I am glad to hear you are not trying to continue when you should not.

    I have followed your posts along your trek and though I was not physically with you I was with you in spirit. You have a gift and I appreciate you sharing your adventure with all who have been following you.

    — Cheers

  2. It’s been an amazing journey and one you can be proud of–almost no one could do what you have done!
    When things settle out, we can talk about my latest robot project 🙂

  3. Brian, you’ve accomplished what most of us wouldn’t or couldn’t even dream of doing and those experiences will last a lifetime. There will be other things ahead of you, maybe not hiking dozens of miles a day, but whatever it is, you will give it your all. For now, safe travels home to the ones you love and who love you and a speedy recovery.

  4. Brian:
    Greatly enjoyed your reports. I admire your sense of adventure and determination. Not many people would even think about the adventure you pursued, so you should take comfort in the fact you dared to reach, not knowing if you could grasp. Looking forward to visiting with you when UT SAGE resumes.

  5. Still an amazing journey.. you continue to defy odds even now.
    And on your very last day, you left behind work on the trail to benefit hikers for years to come!
    Way to go. Fitting task for your last bit of the trail.

    Rest. Heal. Reflect. Write!

    1. Beth, thanks. I hadn’t thought about it that way. I was just trying to earn a ride. By the way I gave Charlie $20 on the way to town so he could buy David and himself a McD’s burger and help with gas too. The kindness of strangers has always been a hallmark of our national trails.

  6. Tartan. Elisabeth and I have been away from cell service the last week but are very sad to hear that you have ended your walk. I know from my experience that it was not an easy decision to make but the right one and one that takes courage to make, you should give yourself credit for having that courage. Remember there are few people our age who can do what you have succeeded in doing the last couple of years. Also there are so many beautiful places a 3,4, or 5 day backpacking trip can take you, I had to remind myself of that fact after last year. Remember you are member of a very select club Tatan. We both send our best wishes. Papa Kiwi and Bangles

  7. 514 miles! Still an amazing accomplishment! Hope to meet you someday, Brian, through Justin and Stephanie maybe! In the meantime, virtual hugs!

  8. Even if this hike may be in the books now, I have a hard time believing your long distance hiking is truly over.

    If it really is, I’m looking forward to hearing about how you throw yourself into your next passion.

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