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“And… don’t lose heart,” she said as she walked away.

My eyes immediately began to tear up as I told her, “I really appreciate you saying that.”

We walked North and she walked South.

She was a retired kindergarten teacher from Georgia doing a section hike in Maine. We didn’t converse long as we passed each other on the Trail. The weather. Trail names. Where we’re from. Small talk.

She asked how the hike was going, and I told her, “Great.” But if I was being honest with that question I would have told her how I was at an all time low.

I did not know how I was going to get through this day let alone this thru-hike.

KitFox took over my pathetic answer and opened up a bit.

“You know, it’s been really difficult lately. I think we’re starting to hit a point where we’re ready for it to be over. It’s been great and rewarding, but it’s hard.”

“Yeah,” I agreed completely.

The former kindergarten teacher gave some last words of encouragement, and we trudged on. For a moment I recalled my own kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Keenan. I remember her being sweet, just as this lady was.

And that’s when I heard her voice come again from behind us.

“And… Don’t. Lose. Heart.”

The words came out distinct and precise.

She smiled, turned back around, and continued walking.

I’m not exaggerating (though maybe I’m a little ashamed)… I cried for the next ten minutes.

For some reason, those words in that moment, were exactly what I needed to hear. Those four simple little words spoken at the last possible moment in a random human interaction. It might be that she will never know the impact that had on me or this hike.

But I am thankful for her and that moment and for Anna and for everyone else who continues to encourage us along the way. Not just on the AT but in life.

The day began as an ultimate low point for me on the Trail, and with a last-minute word, it became one of my favorite days.

With renewed vigor (after the crying, of course) we charged up the next mountain and made good time the rest of the day despite difficult terrain.

We came to a lake a few hours before sunset. A beautiful, picturesque, MAINE lake with clear cool water and surrounding evergreen trees.

Next thing I know, Anna is wading in and I’m sprinting in!

It was surreal.

To be so blissful and joyful splashing around in the refreshing water.

What a change.

“And… don’t lose heart,” she said.

Micah Goldberg a.k.a ManCub recently hiked every mile of the A.T. with (then-girlfriend, now-fianc├ęd) Anna a.k.a KitFox. Read all about their awesome A.T. adventures right here.
And thanks for sharing with the Sasquatch Micah!

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