The next two miles took a great deal of mental toughness. Those two miles felt like four. The ruggedness of the terrain was discouraging not to mention physically taxing. As we crossed another boulderfield, we came upon the logs pictured below and began discussing how hiking is sometimes like following a treasure map...a treasure map to nowhere. When you are deep in the woods, walled in by trees and rocks with no one else around you, you often begin to wonder just where you are going and why. You think, "Why am I putting myself through this?" "What's the point of walking across all of these rocks?" "Where is the X that marks the spot, that makes the journey worthwhile?"
At Pulpit Rock, we took our break and mentally prepared for the descent to the Hamburg Reservoir. We had been walking for over 6 hours and had completed approximately 8 miles of our journey. We had two more miles to go on sore and tired legs. We knew we had one more boulderfield to traverse, and a good bit of down-hill hiking before we would reach our final destination. These last two miles were the most mentally taxing of the day. We were nearing the end, yet it took an incredible amount of energy to keep on walking.
Over the course of the day, we talked about many things, often times making references to Lord of the Rings as is our usual custom; but on our descent back to the Hamburg Reservoir, we discussed how blessed we were to be out hiking on that gorgeous Saturday afternoon. We not only saw beautiful vistas, but observed many of God's creations. Ferns were covering the forest floor, sweet azaleas were in bloom, a butterfly perched on a branch, and we were even lucky enough to observe a Scarlet Tanager in the canopy of the trees. We were out, completing a task that for many is impossible, and for others would be compulsory in order for them to survive. As we walked, I thought about the innumerable people in the world who would have to walk 10 miles or more just to get to a water source, only to fill their containers and have to walk 10 miles back with the heavy water that surely carries waterborne illness. I thought of countless others who like Nathan and Bennett would not be able to complete our day's task because of the ruggedness of the terrain. As we discussed the blessing that it was to be voluntarily hiking on the A.T., our aches and pains from 6 + hours of walking had no hold on us. We drew upon the blessings and completed our 10 mile adventure in under 8 hours time, thankful that we had no run-ins with any slithering creatures, suffered no injuries, and grateful for the opportunity afforded to us to embark on such and incredible journey.