A. T. & T(im) J#16: Finished!

The journey is over and done! I finished up my trek of 2,189 miles over 6 months on September 4, 2017 and what a day it was. I started my climb up Mount Katahdin at 7am and within a couple hours Baxter State Park closed the trail to any new traffic because the weather was so bad. There was crazy powerful winds, fog, rain, hail, freezing temperatures all coupled with the grueling climb up. What a way to end! Here are a few pictures:

 

Finally reaching the summit and end was surreal. The final hill up, the fog ahead slowly breaking for the summit sign to take shape, and the immense and almost explainable satisfaction of physically touching the end of your thru-hike. Though it was freezing cold I couldn’t help but stay up there for a good while offering prayers of thanksgiving in the silent shock of completion. Still, more than a week later, all I really have to say about that moment is I am blessed beyond measure and thankful with ever fiber of my being for being able to hike this trail through, with, and in Christ.

It’s taken me a little bit of time to write this last Timchi-A.T. Reflection. Mostly because finishing this hike is truly a shock and it takes my brain a while to catch up and process. I have 6 months of puzzle pieces to put together and I’ve never been great at that. Even now I still have only grasped a fraction of my experiences but I thought it was time to have a final address.

I feel like to understand the end I want to go back to the beginning. In my first post, many months ago, before I had even set foot on the A.T. as a thru hiker I laid out my pre-trail thoughts and what I hoped to gain from this trip. Now, looking back, I still stand by those thoughts, specifically: Boasting in Your Weakness. If I had to boil my hike down to one lesson I learned it would be: “Boy, am I weak.” This is not some romantic or humble reflection on the nature of humanity and myself, it is a raw, real, painful, joyful, and necessary realization to understanding life as a created human. Yes, I did hike 2,000 miles in every kind of weather and stretched myself spiritually, physically, mentally, socially, and emotionally to my absolute limit but I did not do that on my own. In fact I could NOT have done it on my own. I was, more than I would care to confess: sinful, lazy, afraid, and unfaithful to the laws of Our Father. I am SO weak and that has never been more evident to me than during my A.T. thru hike. BUT! But, but, but… That is part of the beauty of being a child of God. HE KNOW US. HE KNOWS WE ARE WEAK. He knows everything we do and everything in our hearts. AND through it all, no matter what, He speaks the truth:

“But He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.'”

This is it. This is the base layer, the bedrock of our lives. Understanding that we are weak and flawed but in that is were Christ’s life within us is made perfect. Oh, happy fault! That won for us a mighty Savior! I think it is also necessary to add, though I am weak and saw that weakness displayed all the more, I was also strong and conquered many things, and was brave, true to myself, true to God, true to His laws, and experienced joy and happiness beyond belief. God is good all the time!

I don’t think I shared this with you all in any of my posts but about half way through my hike I had made up my mind to quit. Like actually quit. To just go half way and call it a day. This was prompted by a brush with death in the form of a lightning storm on a mountain top, many existential questions being asked, and the point is that for weeks I prayed and prayed and had my mind and heart set on stopping after getting to the halfway point. When I got to Front Royal, VA I came home for the weekend to see my siblings perform in a play. I will never forget it was Saturday, driving to Mount Saint Mary’s and I was looking out the window pondering life when suddenly as clear as day God said to me: “You’re not done.” That was it, just a simple three words, but that was all I needed. I knew, for sure, then and there that I was in fact meant to finish this trip. And now here I am, in a truly miraculous way, an A.T. thru-hiker. I guess going along with boasting in your weakness, I would love if my story could help others to say yes in their own lives. Maybe your going through something unbelievably taxing or you feel prompted to go towards something scary or seemingly unconquerable. Trust in Him. Give Him everything. And DO NOT HESITATE TO SAY: YES!

Life is too short to be afraid!

I also want to say thank you to EVERYONE who helped my in anyway on this trip. To all those who I met and stayed with. To all those who gave me food and drink. To all those who gave me spiritual hope and encouragement. To all those who prayed unceasingly. And to all those who join me in desiring to live a life of radical resolve. I thank you all so much!

Well, I think this is it for now! I have the last blast of pictures attached and I hope you enjoy them. This is Timchi/Pilgrim signing off and though my Appalachian Trail Thru-Hike is now complete, my life of adventures has just begun… PEACE!







Also!!!! I took before and after pictures of myself! Here ya go: ***caution! Shirtless pics ahead:





Not too much difference but still fun! 

Peace! 

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A. T. & T(im) J#15: The Final Push 

The Journey Thus Far: 

I have just hit 2,000 miles!! Wow!! What an indescribable feeling. I am truly blessed. The trail since my last post has continued to be utterly breathtaking. Here are a few highlights: 

Woke up at 4 am for a sunrise hike up to Mount Washington, the highest peak in the Northeastern United States: 


I’m now in Maine, the final state: 


I saw my first Moose (mom and a baby):



Also, I tried to get pics of the eclipse but they didn’t turn out great. You can see it in the lense flare: 


It ”twas also the feast day of Saint Maximilian Kolbe, my all time fave saint, on the 14th: if you don’t know much about him or his life, look him up. He is an incredible example of total, selfless Love. 


And finally it was my 21st birthday on the 19th so I was able to spend that day resting, eating, praying, and drinking (but not that much drinking)

I really don’t have much more to say other than I feel so energized and excited to be in the last leg of this journey and I am so thankful to God for His faithfulness and His Laws. 

Psalm 119:97-98 says: “Oh, how I love your law! I meditate on it all day long. Your commands make me wiser than my enemies, for they are ever with me.”

I pray His laws and commands will remain with us always. 

The next time you hear from me I will be DONE! Less that two weeks now – 188ish miles left. Pray that I might finish well. 

Annnnddd pictures: 







Keep on praying! 

Peace, 

Timchi

A.T. & T(im) J#14: Beauty 

The Journey thus far: 

Happy Friday! Let me start off by saying that it has been awhile since I’ve updated you and I am sorry. It’s been a busy past few weeks. 

This moment I am once again enjoying the hospitality of The Yellow Deli aka The 12 Tribes. In addition to their hiker hostel in Rutland, VT they also have one in Lancaster, NH right outside of the Presidential Mountain range. That’s right, I’m in New Hampshire and tomorrow will be conquering Mount Washington! At mile 1,843.7 I am more than half way done with New Hampshire and have only 345 miles to go before I reach the ever elusive Mt. Katahdin!

The title of this post is beauty because that’s what I’ve been experiencing profoundly and abundantly these past three weeks. (As well as my whole trip) I kept thinking about what I wanted to write regarding beauty but then decided that beauty is better experienced then understood. So, through images I will try to give you a glimpse of the beauty I have been faced with. I will only say these two quotes that I think of often while climbing these mountains. 

1. “Late have I loved You, Beauty so ancient, so New.” – St. Augustine 

2. “Beautiful things don’t ask for attention.” – Sean O’Connell in ‘The Secret Life of Walter Mitty.’

Apply these phrases as you will to these pictures: 

From VT: (not so much these, though still down right purdy.) 



NH:










Also, I was blessed enough to spend time with my family on vacation in Nags Head, NC. Here’s are couple pics: 






Thank you all for your continued prayers and support. Please keep praying and let me know if there’s anything I can offer up for you. 

Peace,

-Timchi 

A. T. & T(im) J#13: Reality 

The journey thus far: 

It has been 143 days since I started this trek on Springer Mountain. I am now a mile marker 1,700 only 46 miles away from finishing Vermont. Thank you God! It is only in Him and with Him that I have done what I have done, though there is still more to do. I only have 488 miles left. Keep on prayin’! 

As I write this I’m staying at the Yellow Deli & Hiker Hostel in Rutland, VT. This is a by donation Hostel and eatery run by a sort of Neo-Christian/Biblical community called the 12 tribes. They have communities all over the globe and live lives of complete generosity and shared community. If any of you know me you know I love discussing  Philosophy, Theology, religion, etc… so, needless to say there have been many hours I’ve spent here discussing with the members their doctrines and where we are alike/different. A bit of discourse is never bad. All differences asides, these are some of the most generous people I have ever met. 

Recently I’ve been listen to the Audiobook version of Walden by Henery David Thoreau which simply in itself mixes so well with what I’ve been experiencing out here but also is deepened by literally walking through New England, where Thoreau lived and divined much of the content for his writing. It was also a special experience to be taking all this in while the world remembered him on what would’ve been his 200th birthday. (July 12) 

While there’s much I do not agree with Thoreau on I have found a theme in his writings as with other outdoorsy/adventury/man’s men (people like Ernest Hemingway or Teddy Roosevelt for example) that I do largely agree with or at the very least, see the value in emphasizing. In Chapter 2 of Walden, Thoreau writes: “Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous. If men would steadily observe realities only, and not allow themselves to be deluded, life, to compare it with such things as we know, would be like a fairy tale and the Arabian Nights.” How much of our lives is spent trying to escape reality? We try every possible way to escape the inevitable truths of life. Pain, accountability, responsibility, duty, sacrifice, simplicity will always catch up with us, it is foolishness to wish them away. What these men found and put into practice is that it is not enough to simply stop running from reality but to actually run towards it, with open arms and/or clenched fists and to take whatever life had to offer with bravery and purpose. Roosevelt has countless quotes and personal testiments that echo these rough but all too true ideas. He once said: “A soft, easy life is not worth living, if it impairs the fibre of brain and heart and muscle. We must dare to be great; and we must realize that greatness is the fruit of toil and sacrifice and high courage… For us is the life of action, of strenuous performance of duty; let us live in the harness, striving mightily; let us rather run the risk of wearing out than rusting out.” Hemmingway once said: “The world breaks everyone, and afterward, some are strong at the broken places.” These men are calling us to be people of and in the Arena. To face life and the fullness of reality with our whole selves to become the best-version-of-ourselves. 

Here’s some pictures: 





“It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

Thank you all! Keep praying and living that Strenous Life!

Peace,

-Timchi

A. T. & T(im) J#12: Discipline 

“At break of day, when you are reluctant to get up, have this thought ready to mind: ‘I am getting up to do man’s work. Do I still resent this it, if I am going out to do what I was born for, the purpose which I was brought into the world? Or was I created to wrap myself in blankets and keep warm? But this is more pleasant.’ Were you born for pleasure – all for feeling, not for action? Can you not see plants, birds, ants, spiders, bees all doing their own work, each helping in their own way to order the world? And then you do not hurry to the demands of your own nature. ‘But ones needs rest too.’ One does indeed: I agree. But nature sets limits of this too, just as too, just as it has to eating and drinking, and yet you go beyond these limits, beyond what you need. Not your actions, though, not any longer: here you stay below your capability.”- Meditations of Marcus Aurelius

Happy Independance Day! The birth of this great and exceptional nation. What a beautiful and grace-filled two weeks it has been! 

The journey thus far: 

Today I hit mile marker 1,512.6. That means I only have 676 miles to go! I just recently left Bearded Woods Hostel near Salisbury, Connecticut and now I’m in Massachusetts!  That means 10 states down and only 4 to go! The most challenging trail is yet to come in NH and ME but I am beyond excited for it. The trail even in New York and Connecticut has been getting tougher and rougher and as I move along it will only get more so. Some days it’s been a wee bit disheartening because I can’t do the mileage I’ve become used to in the middle States. Dealing with these longer/tougher days and struggling with discipline and my spiritual life/it really hitting me that I’ve been out here for more than 4 months has givien me the modivation to recalibrate myself and “shed my skin” so to speak. 

I’ve been thinking/praying about discipline often. We need it, we should cultivate it, but too often we like to go without it. I love the way that opening quote illustrates that discipline and living a life of action is necessary to bring the purpose of our lives to full fruition. 

“Without discipline, we are confined to soulless living and must content ourselves with work, food, momentary pleasures, and anything that can help distract us from the misery of purposeless living. Without discipline, the soul dies. Slowly perhaps, but surely.” (Matthew Kelly in Rediscovering Catholicism, Page 81) I can’t remember if I shared this quote already but it’s something we need to hear over and over again. Without discipline in every aspect of our lives we are confined to soulless living. That’s a message I’ve been reminded of many, many times this week. Please join me in striving to be more disciplined in following God and His commands to us.

And pictures: 



View from Bear Mt, NY. If you zoom in you can the the NYC skyline.
My first rattler!

 

In the middle of New York there is the headquarters of the Franciscan Friars of the Atonment. Their facility is a short walk from the trail so they let hikers come and camp out in their recreation field. It has restrooms, outlets, and an outdoor shower. I was so thankful to be there, the campus is beautiful. 



Also my sister Meredith came up and hiked with me a bit: 


I also got the chance to go into New York City. The trail literally walks right by a stop on the tracks that go into the city:






Annnnnd some more trail pictures:



Some from the Hostel:

Did some work for stay at the Hostel. 5 hours of retrieving logs from the woods
4th of July picnic!

Thanks for checking in! Keep on walking the walk!

-Timchi

A. T. & T(im) J#11: Ad maiorem Dei gloriam 

The Journey thus far: 

I am now 1,335 miles into my trek! I have conquered 7 states!!! I just recently finished Pennsylvania aka Rocksylvania, went into New Jersey and am now finishing it up. New York up next!  

Here are a couple photos that capture Rocks: 


That’s all I can show, anything more will trigger my PTSD… just kidding! The rocks weren’t much! I was fortunate to escape them without injury. I can’t say the same for my shoes though:

 

As the days continue to fly by and I get closer and closer to my destination I find myself being more and more thankful for the little things. For the past week or so I’ve been hiking with a sort of Tramily and it’s been awesome! There are some really cool people out here and it’s always great to be able to share in the day to day joys and sufferings with others:



This past Sunday was Corpus Christi, the feast of Jesus’ Body and Blood. Many of my experiences these past two weeks have made me think about Christ’s Body in relation to us. We are the body of Christ. Together, all of us make up his Body here on earth. We work together: one body with many parts, and we are to be Christ’s Hands and Feet: physically living out His commands. Another thought that I had and often have came during the consecration. When Jesus/the priest in the person of Christ say: This is my Body, given up for you (paraphrasing here) obviously that is Jesus saying it is literally His Body given up for us to consume and be in full communion with Him but also I take it as a motto to follow in our everyday lives. We are Christians. That means we try to, as closely as we can, immitate Christ. I feel like everyday we should be saying back to Him: This is MY body given up TO You. In the way we eat, the way we take care of our bodies, when we are tempted with impurity, in the way we dress, when hardship on the body is necessary or imminent ALWAYS we should be saying: Christ, here is my body, I give it to you. **THIS IS SO HARD, For myself especially. But we are called to do hard things. Being a Christian ain’t no walk in the park. Jesus tells us to repent and believe in the good news. Let’s start living it! 

Pictures: 








This app won’t let me caption any of these but you know what they say: a picture is worth a thousand words. Thank you all for your continued prayers and support! A special shout out to Fr. Jack and the Pilgrims in Italy walking 100 miles for you, me, and religious freedom. They sent a video to me, from Italy, with songs, prayers, and encouragement. It gives me such hope and joy to be walking and praying in solidarity with people like these. Thanks y’all, you’re awesome! (You can check the vid out on my FB page if that floats yo boat) 

Keep on praying! 

-Timchi

A. T. & T(im) J#10: Everything is Grace

The journey thus far:

It has been 99 days since I began my trek. As of now I’m 1,146 miles in. That’s more than half way! I’m currently kicking it at the legendary Doyle Hotel in Duncannon, PA. 6 states down 8 to go! It’s been a bit since I’ve posted. These past three weeks have been filled with so much grace. 

Where we last left off was in Harpers Ferry, WV. That Monday I got back on I was accompanied by a train of hikers. My mom, grandma, little siblings, Mrs. Johnson and her younger kids, and my friend TJ all hiked with me for about 5 miles through Harpers Ferry. From there TJ hiked the entire Maryland section. Along the line we were also joined by two of my very good friends Brandon and Sam. Fr. Jack Lombardi also joined in for a few miles. What a blessing it was to hike with some of the best people I have the pleasure to know. After we finished MD and stepped into PA I was fortunate enough to go to Ocean City, MD with my brothers and some friends. A welcome recharge before tackling the second half of the trail. 

Getting back on the trail I still wasn’t done with seeing friends. My brother Peter hiked with me for one day. As I walked into Boiling Springs, PA I was greeted by the  Tayler Howie and her family who were gracious enough to feed, house, and take me to confession. Not too far after I was able to spend time with Cat Imholte, her fiancé    Peter, and the Imholte family. They too fed me, sheltered me, and took me to Mass. Miles after that I was picked up by the Duiduch family in their big, black, 15 passenger van. I stayed at their house for a couple days where I enjoyed the company of a loving, faith-filled, generous, and hilarious family. Also, I’m certain I saw Bigfoot somewhere on their property. Here in Duncannon I am meeting Mr. and Mrs. Harper who are kind enough to drive up here and treat me to dinner. 

It is times like these where it is made unmistakably apperent how blessed I am to be supported by the community I have. My family, especially my Mom and Pop, are one the greatest gifts God has given me. Unending Faith, Love, and support flow from them. I love you all, thank you for all you do! 

Thank you so, so, so much to everyone who took time out of their lives to lend support to me. YOU are the Body of Christ furthering His Gospel of unconditional Love. 

I admit, for me, being served (especially this frequently and fervently) can be at times uncomfortable. It’s a humbling experience when someone gives to you without measure and there’s really no way for you to pay it back. I think in these moments I catch myself believing that I am the last on a list of people who deserve a community like this. I feel inaiquate of unconditional love. 

There’s a song by the band “Relient K” called “Be My Escape” in which a line goes: “the beauty of grace is that it makes life NOT fair.” We could argue all day about what people deserve or don’t deserve but when it comes down to it, grace: God’s free gift to us, does not discriminate. The beauty of Love and Mercy is that it makes life not fair. We love all because Christ loved all. Everything is Grace! (Also a great song by Matt Maher)

So even though I don’t deserve wonderful friends like you, guess what? Life isn’t fair! I’m so glad that life isn’t fair! Thank you all! I have less than halfway to go and can now begin counting DOWN the miles. Keep on praying! 

And pictures: 











Until next time! Peace!

-Timchi