July 5th was Stephen’s birthday. It’s also Mitch and Heidi’s, Happy Birthday Mitch and Heidi! We woke up after a fantastic day on the 4th in Williamstown, MA. Just 4 miles from the Vermont border. We had some birthday brunch with Stephen, and Tide gave us both some really awesome, customized bandanas. It was a fun morning, but we got a really late start out of town. Tide decided not to push as far as us, since she was feeling a little sick. So, for the next few days, it was just Stephen and I.
I could tell something was on his mind for a while, but didn’t press it. Then, one afternoon, he caught up to me and said there was something he needed to talk to me about. He admitted he’d decided to quit the trail. I could tell it was a really tough decision for him, and that it was what he really needed. I was taken aback, but in no way disappointed. I told him I was proud that he wasn’t doing it just to do it (if that makes sense), and that if spending the rest of his summer with his family was what he wanted, then that’s what he should do. The next morning we hugged goodbye, and he took off to the next road, to find his way to his grandparents house, near Norwich, VT, his happy place.
We’re with him now at that place. He’s really happy, and looks handsome with his beardless face. Watching him drop out taught me that my heart must really be in this. Because, even though I sort of envied the relief in his eyes, knowing it was his last night in the same sweaty clothes, I knew it wasn’t what I wanted. I want Katahdin’s magnificent view. Then, I’m burning my nasty hiking shorts! 🙂
Bon Voyage Stephen! Thanks for the memories, and stay classy.