No Regrets and There Is No Place Like Home

March 15, 2016  Bobo Hollow Road, Tennessee

It’s hard to tell you … but my pursuit of a thru-hike on the Appalachian Trail ended at Fontana Village (mile 164). For nearly three weeks I have been unable to get the sleep needed to continue this physically demanding hike. I hoped that my body would adjust to sleeping on the ground, in a sleeping bag, and the surrounding environment. But it has not happened and I feel it is unsafe to continue. I found that fatigue was beginning to affect me more each day.

I have been home for four nights and have slept soundly and restfully, without sleeping aids. My doctor has confirmed that there is no physical reason to prevent me from sleeping so it remains a mystery why I did not. Therefore, I am ending my hike. (btw – my stumble last Thursday produced a right ankle sprain that is healing quickly.)

It is very humbling to receive so much support from so many people. You have all been so kind and encouraging. I shared my thoughts on being out of my comfort zone while being on the trail.  But, that which was most uncomfortable was “separation “.  Separated from things that often are taken for granted in my everyday life; a moment shared with a loved one, enjoying time with friends, established routines, and the warmth of sharing a happy home with someone, I love dearly.   My beautiful wife has always supported me. She really is “the number one fan of the man from Tennessee!” Thank you, Catherine. And, while I may miss the challenge of climbing another mountain or a steep and challenging descent, I am glad to be home.👫

Off The Trail,
Pilgrim

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30 Responses to No Regrets and There Is No Place Like Home

  1. M E Mattox says:

    I have truly enjoyed your daily post while on the trails. You gave it your best effort, Health and safety comes first. I have great admiration for anyone who would hike through rain sleet, snow and many other obstacles. After all is said and done there’s no place like home. Thanks again for all your posts and photos while on the trails.Welcome back to the daily comforts that we all take for granted. Margaret

    Sent from my iPhone

    >

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  2. SlimTim says:

    I’m so proud of you, Lee!!! Even with the daily updates I think it is hard to understand just how tough your hike was. I witnessed first-hand your inability to get restful sleep. I have no doubts that without that obstacle you had the stamina and drive to make it to Katahdin. Although we were on the trail together a short time I feel blessed to have the months we spent planning for the hike. And …. I will never forget the storm on Blood Mountain. I feel I’ve made a friend for life. God bless you and Catherine and Alice. Thank you so much. ~SlimTim

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Tim, good to hear from you! It was a tough decision to quit, but I believe it was the right one. We both have a better appreciation of what the challenges of hiking on the A T are like, and you have to be at your best physically and mentally. I was really running on empty the last few days and my stumble, while not serious, was an awakening. I totally under estimated my ability to adjust to sleeping in a bag,on the ground,or in shelters. We did have some memorable moments, and you are right blood mountain will always be with us.Thanks for going with me and giving me an opportunity to get to know you better. Hope to get together for golf some time soon.Lee

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  3. Jim Davis says:

    Your my hero for being strong enough to start this particular journey and my hero for knowing when to stop. You have plenty more journeys ahead. God Bless you in all of them.

    Jim

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    • Pilgrim says:

      JIM, Thanks for your kind words. I appreciate you following the blog and offering so thoughtful and insightful comments. Hope you and Naomi have a great time in Vegas. Lee

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  4. Michael says:

    Glad you are sleeping well. And glad you had the chance to chase the dream.

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  5. Toni Davidson says:

    Your adventure was fun to follow and I’d get that “uncomfortable” feeling in the pit of my tummy everyday until I read that you were safe. I’m so thankful you are able to rest and sleep in comfort of your home. Thanks for showing me something I had no idea existed. God’s richest blessings to you and Catherine and Alice❤️

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Toni,Thanks for following along with me on the trail. I appreciate your encouragement and input it was important to me. I too am glad to be back home and also so very,very glad to be sleeping again.Hope you and Ken can visit us some time soon. Lee

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  6. Surely, a hard decision Pilgrim, but, you nevertheless completed an incredible journey– not just the 164 miles, but all the planning and experiences along the way! And you took so many of us along with you…(Did you allow for that extra baggage? No wonder you couldn’t sleep! Ha!) What a grand chapter in your life book. Kudos from this camp for chasing it down, allowing us to live vicariously on the trail with you, and giving us all a lot to talk about! Best thoughts to you three. Glad you’re home safe.

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    • Pilgrim says:

      J&J,Thanks for your encouragement and support it meant a lot to me. Glad you followed along even though it was for such a short while. I am glad to be home again and really glad to be sleeping again. We hope ya’ll will be able to visit soon! Lee

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  7. Pamela Jones says:

    An amazing achievement Lee – you must have tussled with the decision but it is obviously the right one, sleep deprivation is a form of torture and takes its toll on our physical health! I wouldn’t have lasted a day!!!! I absolutely loved reading your blog and admit I will miss that. Take care and lots of love Pamxx

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Pam, Thanks for your kind thoughts and input. It was encouraging to hear from you while I was on the trail and struggling to get some sleep. Although I will miss the challenges of hiking the trail I am glad to be home and sleeping again. Lee

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  8. Eileen Waddington says:

    Glad to hear from you again Lee, I have looked each morning to see if there was news. I’m glad you have listened to your body and your emotions and made the right decision for you. You walked a long way in some terrible conditions but I bet you have some wonderful memories and you should feel justly proud of yourself. You have inspired me to walk the Northumberland Coastal Path with a chum in July. Considerably easier, beds each night and only a day pack to carry and only around 70 miles!
    Thanks again for sharing it was a priveledge to get such a personal insight into a famous walking trail. Enjoy home and love to Catherine 😘😘👍

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Eileen, Thank you for following our blog. I appreciated your comments and thoughts. I especially liked hearing that you would be making your own trip in July, please keep us posted. Righty o, hope to hear from you soon. Lee

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  9. agent 314 says:

    Well done Pilgrim! You took us all on adventure very few of us would ever attempt. What a grand and glorious feat! Thank you for your courage, your stories, and your pictures. Be well, God bless, and rest!

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Agent 314, thank you for insights on our blog. Your words were encouraging and appreciated even though the trip ended rather quickly. It is good to be home and sleeping again. Pilgrim

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  10. Dusty Stephens says:

    About the only trail I hike down these days is Verbosity Road. However, this time I’ll not go there. Donna and I know those two incredible ladies (who so effectively ran Command Central HQ), are very glad to have you safely back home. The Hollow missed you. And your garden needs you. Blessings, my friend

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Dusty, Thank you for all the encouragement, your poetic words still echo in my mind and give me solace even if though the trip has ended for me. It is good to be back home in the hollow and sleeping again. Lee

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  11. Dewey says:

    Welcome home! Your journey provided me inspiration to travel this path one day too.

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  12. Sandy Boyer (and Jim) says:

    I have to agree with everyone else — your journey was truly inspirational, as was Slim Tim’s. I think you’ve made the right decision, and while I’m sure it was not an easy one to make, we can ALL sleep better now knowing you’re safely at home. I’ll miss your daily messages, but I’m so proud that you attempted to follow a life-long dream. Many of us don’t get THAT far, so take heart and put to use the lessons learned on your journey. Sending hugs your way —

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Sandy and Jim, I appreciate hearing from ya’ll your words were encouraging and meant a lot to me. I enjoyed sharing the experience although it was brief! I glad to be back home again and sleeping (finally).Thanks again Lee

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  13. Rootbeard says:

    Sorry to hear about this, but you have to do what’s best for you and I respect that. It was a pleasure to spend time with you. Good luck on future adventures!

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  14. hikeminded says:

    I wish you all the best! Greetings from Berlin

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  15. jennyraynes says:

    Well done Lee. Have so enjoyed your blog . What a fantastic achievement . What a tough decision you have made . Thank you for all your thoughts and photos . take care now and hope you are feeling rested xx

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    • Pilgrim says:

      Jenny, Thanks for all your feedback. I will miss the challenges of the trail and the beauty of such remote places, but is good to be home and sleeping again! Your thoughts were encouraging and appreciated. Lee

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  16. Cindy says:

    Staring this adventure takes a lot of planing. Taking the first step on the trail takes guts. You did both. When you first start the journey, you wonder will I find water, will I have enough food, will my body hold out, will I survive the elements. What sites will I see. The wonder of nature will never let you down. But the wonderful beauty you find is you. Your strengths , your lows & highs & what really matters in your life. I highly value toilets, hot showers & the ability to turn on light by flipping a switch! Or you may find you value having coffee in the morning with a loved one or crawling in bed with the love of your life & getting a good nights sleep. For some it takes over 2000 miles, others a 1000 & some 164 miles to find this out. When some ask you did you complete the trail – you should answer … Yes my friend I completed my journey! Well done my friend!

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