Saturday, October 8, 2011

We are happy to announce that Tom arrived home off the trail on Wednesday, October 5, 2011.  We still don't have a total hike mileage to give out yet, but it is about 1400 + miles.  While he didn't finish his thru-hike this season, he had a grand adventure for the last 6 1/2 months that he was out on the trail.  He's already planning to get out there next season and finish up his hike.  We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts, prayers, and encouragement to Tom and to us as we followed his progress over the last several months.  Tom has lots of awesome stories and tales to tell, so when you run into him, ask him to tell you one. 

Tom came off the trail near the Mount Washington area in northern New Hampshire.  He decided he was done hiking and called to let us know on a Saturday.  We needed some time to arrange transportation home but by that evening he had made his way to Vermont by hitching a ride from one of the trail towns.  On Sunday he was able to catch another ride to Springfield, Mass where he caught up with some family friends. A great big thank you to the Cummings family for welcoming Tom into your home.   Once we had him nailed down to a location we were able to arrange a ride home for him.   A dear friend of our family, Linda  Orr, was visiting a new grandson in Lexington, Mass and on her return trip she was able to pick Tom up and deliver him to our home.  (Thanks Linda!)

We've received lots of questions over the last 6 months and the ones that we were asked the most were:  Aren't you worried about him?  Is it safe?  Is he hiking with a group?

And the answers are, yes, we worried about him.  But while we worried, we also knew our son very well.  We knew his strengths and weaknesses.  We knew he was capable of taking on this adventure.  Our greatest challenge as parents was stepping back and allowing our son the space to go out on his own and hike his own hike, to allow him to set the pace, to go as far as he wanted to go.  Our job was to be his support when he called home and needed some encouragement to go on, to transfer money into his account and then allow him to figure out how and when to spend the money, to send him seasonal equipment as needed, and to remind him that we missed him and loved him and that we'd be here when he returned.   And when he didn't call for several days, we were trusting that all was well.  We learned to let go and to have faith.

Is it safe?  Yes, as long as you adapt to the trail, follow the long established routines and use your common sense.  Hitchhiking scared us.  But it is an absolute necessity when you hike the Appalachian Trail.  The local residents are so used to the hikers and so generous with their time, transportation, food, shelter, etc.  Our son learned to receive kindnesses from lots of strangers and these greatly enhanced his experience.

Is he hiking with a group?  The answer is no.  He did not start out with a group.  He started with his younger brother who came home after 400 miles.  Tom eventually hooked up with some other hikers who formed a close alliance and they spend lots of time together on the trail.  Together they went to Maine and hiked south.  Even though they were together, they still spent the day hiking alone sometimes as they all were hiking at their own pace.  Sometimes they would only gather in the evening at a shelter or would part for a few days if some of them went into town.  Tom was 100% responsible for his own food, shelter, and medical needs. 

One day, your child may come to you with some wild dream or crazy them, let them go, and sit back and watch your child transform themselves into a new and better and more responsible and capable person ready to take on all the challenges of adulthood, college, and more.

Thanks for following along.  And stay tuned for more adventures!

About Me

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Welcome to our blog. Come and visit and get to know my crazy busy family. First there is me, Tammy, also known as the MOM. And then there is Hank-the Dad. We are the proud parents of 5 wonderful and wacky kids. In order of birth-Nicholas, Thomas, Benjamin, Eleanor, and Maxwell. We are a homeschooling family and we love to explore, travel, and create dynamic family traditions and rituals with our children.