Now that I'm back in New Jersey (for about a week or so before moving to Vienna) I've had some time to think about the past seven months and what I will really remember about the hike. Of course, I'll have a lot more time to think in the coming months, as I put my recollections into book form, but for now a few things bear mentioning.
First, I lucked out unbelievably with the weather. There was a well-nigh unprecedented drought in the Southeast this fall and winter, which, while not kind to farmers certainly helped me out. Last summer was also rather dry up in New England, at least while I was up there. In fact, throughout the hike there weren't more than maybe twenty five days out of over 200 during which it rained at all, and of those twenty, there were maybe only about 5 washouts. And due to a rather flexible schedule, I only hiked through one of those. Also, as far as temperatures go, I never experienced temperatures colder than the upper twenties (in Virginia in November- though on my last day in Georgia, the wind chill was in the teens at most) or warmer than the upper eighties. Of course, given my route and timeframe which was designed to avoid temperature extremes, this wasn't as fortuitous as the lack of precip was.
Secondly, there were a number of questions I got in all spots I hiked through which I'll repeat here: "How many shoes have you been through?" (Ans. five, although I hiked 80% of the hike in just two pairs- my favorite being the New Balances I bought at the New Balance factory up in Maine) "How much weight have you lost?" (Ans. only about five pounds- remember, I wasn't hiking the Appalachian Trail for most of the way and had ready access to junk food, fast food, and sit down restaurants alike) "Have you had any bad experiences?" (Ans. There was one guy up in southern Maine who almost sicced his pit bull on me even though I wasn't even on his property, but one bad apple hardly spoiled the hike) and "How long did it take?" (Ans. 7 months and two days and about 2600 miles, though I lost track of the miles after Connecticut or so)
Finally, what impressed me the most was both the diversity of the places that I hiked through (the mountains of Maine, New York City, Amish Country, Washington DC, the rolling hills of Virginia, rural South Carolina, the beach in Florida) and the widespread generosity of people to both me and the Fisher House Foundation. While I'll save my formal thank yous for my final post this coming week, it suffices to say at this point that I experienced kindness in all corners, whether from Honduran immigrants in the Bronx, skateboarding teenagers in North Carolina, backwoodsmen in Maine and South Carolina, US Senators in Washington, old friends, new friends, the Fisher House Foundation itself, and of course my family. Not only would my hike not have been possible without you, but it wouldn't have been the grand adventure it was.