I smiled the smile of a relieved man. I would soon arrive in Neels Gap. A few beers, a big feed, a hot shower and a semi-comfortable mattress awaited me. Perhaps I would linger there for a day or two; take stock, organize transport, maybe even go for a day hike!

As I began the final descent from Blood Mountain, the weather had taken a turn for the worse. Temps were in the mid-teens and dropping fast, the wind was howling and the exposed rocky slabs on the aforementioned peak resembled an ice skating rink. I chuckled. Mother Nature was giving me a send-off to remember! The sun had set and the final two miles of my journey would be made in darkness. Sort of appropriate considering how much night hiking I had done over the past few months. As I made my way down, I suddenly encountered a day hiker by the name of Mark. He had become disorientated, had no headlamp, little in the way of gear and was becoming justifiably concerned as to his welfare. Over the next hour and a half I shepherded him down the mountain, cracking jokes, assuring him that all would be OK. We finally arrived at Neels Gap around 7.30 pm, just in time for dinner at the Walasi Yi Hostel. Mark was a very relieved man. He called his wife to assure her that all was fine and he would soon be driving home. I had helped to save someone’s life. Perhaps this was the real reason why I turned around and walked those extra thirty miles? The final and perhaps most important serendipitous encounter of my entire journey.


Epilogue 2: SERENDIPITY — 6 Comments

  1. Wow! Seriously, what are the odds of that hiker running into you like that? I’m glad you were there.

    I’ve loved reading your blogs, and selfishly I’d love to see you yo-yo the grand slam. That said, I understand your decision to move on, at least for now. Every few years of our lives have their own pleasures; if you miss some, they’re gone. You can try to do them later in life, but the experience will be different. Enjoy catching up on the things that you’ve missed while you’ve been on the trail. More trails will await when the time comes.

    The hiking community is in awe of your accomplishments.


    • Thanks for your kind words. One of the things I’m most looking forward to in the coming weeks is simply catching up on all the movies I missed over the past eighteen months. Finding a lost hiker on Blood Mountain definitely made for a memorable final night of my journey!

  2. It is so important to realize when it is time to move on to the next chapter. Listening to your inner voice has undoubtedly played a huge role in your successful adventure. Congratulations on living the dream. No one can ever take that experience away from you.

    • Thank you. It was a wonderful journey on many levels; a unique opportunity to experience the natural wonders of North America from the inside out, rather than the outside in.

  3. I love your perspective Swami and I hope I get to meet you someday! I can totally relate to everything you’ve said in your epilogues. You are on to your next amazing journey and I’m sure you’ve saved many more lives through this journal. You are an inspiration!

    • Thank you for your kind words. Putting all the information together for the website and blog was very much a labour of love. It’s always great to hear feedback from people who have found it helpful. In regards to meeting up, I think there is a good chance of it happening. I plan to be hiking for at least another 57 years, and with the long distance hiking community being as small as it is, I think the odds are pretty good that we will run into each somewhere along the line!

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